Nobody goes through college without making a few mistakes. Learning from mistakes, is all part of the process.
I spent 4 years at Eastern Illinois University (2003-2007), majoring in finance. I enjoyed my time in college, but two years later, I see ways I could have made my college experience a lot better. Here are ten regrets I have.
10 College Mistakes
- Not studying abroad – This is the biggest regret I have. Once you’re out of college, there are a million and one excuses not to travel abroad.
- Didn’t read non-fiction along with textbooks – I couldn’t stand to read textbooks. To get a better understanding of any subject, I wish I had read classic non-fiction books instead. Not to mention, many times textbooks are outdated. For example, our marketing professor never mentioned blogging or podcasting the entire semester.
- Thought the professor was always right – A professor has an opinion just like you and I. Don’t be afraid to challenge his opinion to start a discussion. Just make sure you know what you’re talking about or you will look like a fool. Professors love discussion. One of my favorite classes I can remember was a debate on weather we should be able to use Wikipedia as a source.
- Not belonging to more organizations – I dabbled into a few student organizations, but never built any great friendships because I was very inconsistent.
- Not starting an Internet Business in my free time – I had one semester where I had Wednesday and Friday off. Instead of starting an Internet business, my concentration was on getting in the top 100 in Madden 07. (I did accomplish by the way)
- Played way too many video games by myself – Video games are great to play with friends. Don’t mistake talking through a headset to someone next-door as socializing.
- Started investing in individual stocks – Since I majored in finance, I thought I knew what I was doing. It could have been a lot worse, but I now know to never again invest in individual stocks.
- Not paying a small bill – Due to a miscommunication with the uninsured driver I was in an accident with, I ended up not paying a small hospital bill from a car accident. The hospital ended up sending the bill to a collection agency. It’s still on my credit report this day. That little mistake cost a lot of money and time when applying for a mortgage 5 years later.
- Not investing in a Roth IRA– My first investments were outside of a Roth IRA. I would have been a lot better off dollar cost averaging into a Roth IRA with my summer earnings.
- Overspending on my meal plan – I underestimated how much I would dislike cafeteria food. Most of my meal plan money was going towards a tray of cereal for lunch and dinner.
10 Things I Did Right
- Visited other schools – I have great memories from going to visit friends at other colleges. Visit your friends on a special occasion that college holds to get the full experience.
- Lived on and off campus – Living both on campus and off campus was a great experience.
- Didn’t open a credit card to get a free t-shirt or pizza – I had a credit card in college, but I capped my limit at $50 a month. I made sure to pay it off in full.
- Not going to a really expensive school – If you’re not going to school for a specific purpose, it doesn’t make sense to waste money.
- Graduated in 4 years – Even if you switch majors, complete your undergrad in 4 years max. If you have to, catch up with classes in summer school.
- Took classes like weight lifting and golf – The classes outside of your major should be as interesting and fun. The majority of your time should be concentrated on your major.
- Went on alternative spring break – Last minute, my roommate and another friend went down to Bessemer, Alabama. We did maintenance work on a local church and a pre-school, read to and interacted with pre-school kids, ate southern food, and met a lot of interesting people. We had very little idea what we were getting into but ended up having a great experience.
- Took a random road trip – For a weekend we drove up to Windsor, Canada. Where the drinking and gambling laws allowed us to live like kings for 2 days.
- Took early classes – The one semester my classes started late, I noticed a huge decrease in productivity. Having an real commitment makes it a lot easier to get out of bed.
- Had a Girlfriend – She ended up being my wife, so this one worked out really well.
In the comments, please discuss any college mistakes you had. What are specific ways you would have improved your college experience?