BY RICK RIDDLE
Regrets are horrible things. Not only do they make you feel bad, you can’t fix them. All that you can do is live with them, and occasionally satisfy yourself with the opportunity to warn others. When many people look back with regret, the sad truth is that many of those regrets are focused on the college years. You might think it won’t happen to you. After all, in the moment, you are probably quite happen with your life and feel good about the decisions you are making. The question is, how will you feel looking back in the future? Why not avoid regret altogether and check out the 10 things you will regret not doing in college.
- Widening Your Circle of Friends
You’ve just arrived at school. You are overwhelmed by everything that is new, and likely feel a strong desire to connect with something familiar. So, you do what comes naturally. You seek out people that you perceive as being members of your tribe. These are the people who are most familiar to you, and resemble those who have long been part of your social circle. This is understandable and safe. It is also something that you will regret.
Get to know people with different pasts and perspectives than yours. The college years are ideal for stepping out of your comfort zone and getting to know people from different cultures, different regions, or who simply live different lifestyles. Remember that the world is getting smaller. You won’t be prepared for that if you stay insulated and isolated.
Now that you are in college, you will probably be given many opportunities to travel. If you are able to, take advantage of them. Study abroad for a semester. Go on weekend road trips and explore. Join a foreign language club that plans a yearly trip abroad. Take that spring break trip to the beach, but be smart and careful while you are there.
Traveling is a perfect way to meet new people, learn about the world around you, and see breathtaking sites. It’s also an amazing way to learn some important life skills. When you travel, you learn time management, budgeting, improve your communication skills, and how to think on your feet.
- Exploring New Interests Without Fear of Failure
They say that college is a good time for experimenting, and ‘they’ are correct. This sentiment doesn’t ring any more true than in the college classroom. If you are picking electives that are safe, easy classes that you know will help to pad your GPA, that‘s a shame. You are missing out on the opportunity to explore new topics, learn new skills, and uncover what could become a lifelong passion. What’s the worst thing that can happen, a bad grade or enduring a boring class? You’ll survive! Besides, who has made a mark on the world that always went for the easy A.
- Learning Basic Life Skills
What do you do when you get hungry? Do you order a pizza, hit a drive thru, or head to the nearest dining hall? Can you balance your bank statement? What about checking your oil, sewing on a button, or making a doctor’s appointment when you’re sick? Independence can feel great when you decide to go that all night party or that eating nachos for breakfast is a perfectly fine thing to do. Unfortunately, too many students leave school having experienced all of the freedom of adulthood without learning the life skills that they need.
- Making a Contribution to The World Around You
As mentioned above, you’ll have many opportunities to travel. Some of these opportunities are made available by various organizations who need student volunteers to help them with a variety of missions. If you have a charitable heart and a desire to see the world, some of the best charitable programs would love to work with you. Just do a bit of research, you’ll find volunteer programs that you can join during summer breaks, and programs that require shorter stints.
If traveling doesn’t appeal to you, you can still give back within your own community. In fact, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities right on campus.
- Becoming Politically Active
As a whole, college students are very passionate and outspoken about political issues. Unfortunately, that passion is rarely used to evoke activism. Sadly, it doesn’t even seem to be enough to get students into the voting booth. This is a shame, because in order to succeed, your favorite candidates and causes need your help.
So, learn about the issues and vote at the very least. Better yet, find a local candidate that you believe in and volunteer in their campaign. Go door to door. Help people register to vote. Start a petition drive. Even if your views change as you get older, you’ll never regret being an active part of the political process.
- Getting Involved on Campus
Yes! You will regret not joining clubs or finding other ways to get involved. This means you, mr. or ms. ‘I’m just not the rah-rah, school spirit, type.’ There are dozens of groups, teams, clubs, and organizations on campus that cater to a variety of interests, talents, and passions. Find at least one that appeals to you. You’ll meet people, learn new things, and best of all you will make fond memories.
- Changing Your Major
How early did you declare? Are you still happy with that choice? If you aren’t, do yourself a huge favor and change your major. Yes, it’s a tough thing to do. It might even mean delaying graduation. For some students switching majors can also mean facing parental disappointment, or even losing a bit of their own identity. It’s certainly not an easy choice to make. However, as difficult as it can be, it is much easier than graduating with a degree in a field that you are no longer interested in.
- Getting to Know Your Professors
If you’re only seeing your instructors in class, you are really missing out on some great opportunities. First of all, your professors want to get to know you and to provide you with the assistance and insight that you need to do well. This is why they have office hours. Go see them, get to know them, and let them get to know you as well.
When you get out into the real world, the instructors that you connect with will be part of your network as you begin looking for work in your field. While you’re still in school, creating familiarity can be beneficial as well. Professors tend to judge students more positively if they have taken the time to get to know them.
- Not Playing Sports
If you aren’t playing sports in college, you could really be missing out on some great opportunities. When you play sports, you become a member of a tight knit community. You learn self-discipline. You get into shape.
Does this sound like a recruiting video for your college’s sports teams? It doesn’t have to be. Chances are, your college offers a variety of intramural sports to students who want to play without being obligated to official school teams. If that isn’t your scene, keep looking. You’ll probably find a bunch of hashers, disc golfers, or recreational kickball players to join.
Rick Riddle is a head content manager at SmartPaperHelp and an up-and-coming blogger whose articles can help you with self-development, entrepreneurship, career, and digital marketing. Feel free to follow Rick on twitter and LinkedIn.