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My Top 5 Avoidable College Regrets

College is about learning. It’s about growing. And making some of our biggest college regrets is part of that. But there’s a difference between making mistakes and really regretting is, aren’t there?

I’m not talking about regretting drinking too much the night before you have a big exam or presentation. That’s something most of us do (don’t we? no? just me?). I’m talking about the big regrets that you continue to think back upon when you’re a year, two years, five years, ten years, etc. removed from college.

So don’t be afraid to make mistakes in college. It’s the time to make mistakes. Just keep them small mistakes.

Biggest College Regrets

Biggest College Regrets Means Biggest Lessons Learned

Learn from your own mistakes. But learn from the mistakes of others too, like mine. Here are the things that I still years removed from college look back on and wish I did – or didn’t do. You may want to think about them and considering doing them – or not doing them – too.

1. I Missed Out on Spring Break

I did spring break my senior year and during grad school. But why didn’t I do it earlier in my college days? Sure, I didn’t have the expendable income – but no one did. And isn’t figuring out a spring break on a budget half the adventure, anyway?

Again, I took for granted the flexibility I had in college. This is one of my biggest college regrets because I was given an entire week off, without needing to ask for it. All my friends had the same week off too – super easy to have all gone away together.

Fortunately, I didn’t have many responsibilities and many bills. I really could just go on spring break, relax, and enjoy without having to worry about anyone else or anything else.

I had so much fun the two years I did it, and I really wish I did it more. Getting a group of friends together for a week off at the same time just isn’t as easy once you enter the working world like it was when we were all on spring break together.

2. Not Studying Abroad

I had the opportunity to, as my college offered a bunch of different options for credit. But I didn’t take advantage of any of them. There were a few reasons I didn’t.

And honestly? At the time, I didn’t think I really needed to study abroad. I had already spent summers in Greece, even working in Greece. I had traveled a bit. Why did I need to study abroad and live in another country for a semester?

After hearing from my friends who studied abroad, and hearing about their experiences and all the ways they learned and grew when they studied abroad, I immediately regretted not doing it. Plus, when you’re in one European country, it’s so easy to get to another one.

I could’ve checked off a bunch of different countries off of my travel bucket list, all during a time where I didn’t have many responsibilities and many bills. But I move through college and just didn’t – I just assumed that I could travel post school.

And I did, but it’s definitely not the same, especially when you need to keep PTO in mind and you can’t just take off for a month and explore Europe. I had the chance to immerse myself in a different country and a different culture, and I didn’t take advantage of it. Now, I wish I had. Not studying abroad has been such a significant college regret.

Study Abroad College Opportunity Mistake

3. Poor Internship Variety

I pretty much interned at the same place all throughout college. I knew I wanted to enter in the world of nonprofits, so why would I have interned anywhere else? Well, needless to say, when my senior year came, I kept being told by the place I interned out that they were looking for a spot for me, but none opened up.

I did stay in the nonprofit world for five years post-grad. But then I entered corporate America and I wish I had entered it sooner.

If I had switched up my internships during college and tried new things, I likely would’ve realized sooner that corporate America isn’t as bad or scary as I had thought it was. I could’ve changed my entire career trajectory, and that likely would’ve helped my growth, too.

Use internships as your trial and error, to see what industries you like and which one you don’t. This way when you graduate, you already know.

4. I Was Naive About Friendships and Planning

When you’re in college, you and all your friends are pretty much on the same playing field. You’re on the same schedules, you’re in the same stages of life, and so on.

This will never happen again and is why this is one of my biggest college regrets. As much as a part of me knew that, it didn’t really hit until after I graduated college and my friend group would try making plans and it just wasn’t so easy.

Once you graduate college, everyone is on a different schedule thanks to work, relationships, living situations and locations, and so on. Everyone meeting up in someone’s dorm room spur of the moment to pregame going out just doesn’t happen anymore.

Everything takes planning, and that planning needs to happen in advance. Friendships take a lot more work outside of college, and that’s something I wish I had realized while I was still in college.

College Regrets in Friendship

5. I Didn’t Prioritize Relaxation

Relaxing? In college? Yup, I wish I did it more. In college, you’re so stressed about your grades and papers and work and social life and dating life and what not.

In the moment, it all seems super stressful and even overwhelming. But then I entered the real world, I realized that even though my grades and paper worries were gone, I now had to figure out how to balance everything else all while working 40+ hours a week and while paying bills!

Talk about real stress! I think back to when I was stressed during college and can’t help but laugh to myself. I want to tell my younger self to relax more but I can’t do that, so I’m telling you all instead. Take your studies seriously, but also have fun, take a deep breath, and relax, too.

Final Thoughts on My Biggest College Regrets

Sure, there are many other things that I could consider regrets or mistakes throughout college however these really stuck with me over time. I’m glad to have learned the lessons I did through these realizations and hope to carry the growth throughout life.

Do you find yourself looking back on college with any long-lasting regrets? Tell us in the comments which are your biggest college regrets.

More Resourceful College Posts:

Top 5 College Regrets
Top 5 College Regrets

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts '13 and a Master of Arts '14. She's currently working in corporate America with a side of freelance writing. She wants you to learn from her experiences and mistakes so your 20s can be your best decade. When she's not working, she's likely planning her escape to a tropical island.