Joining college life and getting a degree may sound like a dream for most Americans these days, yet it takes more than passing the exams with flying colors or partying all night long. College is a serious choice in life that comes along with student loans, career perspectives, new responsibilities, and trying to adjust to unforeseen challenges. Although every case is different, more than half of college students have painful regrets as they wish they could do something differently or abandon the college degree idea completely. According to a survey conducted by Psychology Today, the first regret that usually comes up relates to education choices, which reveals how challenging it is to choose a major that reflects one’s skills and aspirations. The reasons for regrets are multiple, including impulse choices, following the crowd, being unable to cope with financial student loan burden, and dealing with socio-cultural aspects of college life.
What American Students Regret About
Some college students would happily choose a different major or avoid getting into a fight with the strict lecturer, yet there may be other stuff like college relationships or campus bullying that forces even successful graduates to look back at their learning experience with a sense of regret.
Turning to Gallup and Strada Education Network's survey, one can see that nearly 90,000 participants or 51% of students involved in a study regret their major choice, while 36% wish that they could choose a different discipline.
The survey also shows that students with technical degrees are less prone to such regrets, which can be explained by the practical applicability of their skills.
Now only 28% of former college students regret the choice of an institution. It reveals that the general regrets are mostly related to educational choices and not the college per se.
The reasons for that, according to various research reports, relate to a lack of understanding of the employment options, potential income inconsistency, and dealing with a student debt, which places certain limitations concerning additional courses or understanding of what a successful completion may require.
The underlying ground for the most popular regrets may differ from person to person but it is obvious that there are psycho-social and peer pressure factors at play.
Top 30 Painful College Regrets of Students
1. Wrong Major to Study For
There is always a fine line between following one’s passion for a particular major or planning to build a successful career in a global environment. Most students fail to understand that there are obvious changes that happen to their perception of a world and the business environment, which is why any degree can and should be adjusted to the latest demands and job requirements.
2. College Undermatching
In some cases, it is related to a lack of good internship opportunities or a student loan debt that seems unrealistic. However, one can always visit the College Scorecard website to check various graduation rates nationwide to see what indications make some college graduates more successful and happy with their degrees.
3. Non-relevant Degree
It is a serious issue, which reasons often lay in the lack of proper employment and ever-changing professional requirements. A possible solution for that is to apply for an additional certificate to pump up your skills and gain a different taste of things. Just give your brain a long-needed emotional boost!
4. Student Debt
Although statistics may say otherwise, it is one of the most painful college life regrets for most American students. Since an average college student faces a debt that exceeds $37,000, it is no wonder that most students wish they could have approached the payments differently.
5. Not studying hard enough
According to Pew Research Center’s poll, 64% of students born after 2000 wish they could have studied harder with more focus on less easy subjects, while 43% of respondents regret not studying relevant job opportunities as they chose additional subjects.
6. Dropping Out of College
In truth, the majority of those who drop college and do not finish their academic duties do so because of serious circumstances that go beyond lack of interest. These examples include family issues, health concerns, mental disorders, financial burdens, army service schedules, and more. Thankfully, there are various scholarships for challenged students that offer due assistance.
7. Not Making Friends
While it represents a psycho-social issue, a lot of students regret not being more social and active while at college. Good friendships in college is a crucial aspect that helps to cooperate and learn together.
8. Not Participating in Community Work
This regret is not only a fault of the students per se because some colleges may engage in its community life more than others. Some of the institutions like famous Rutgers or Berkeley College are praised for their community work and charity initiatives.
9. Not Reporting School Bullies
It becomes more common lately that college students regret not reporting the school bullies and the harassment cases. It may not only result in a mental trauma but also affect the grades.
10. Romantic Relationships That Affect Studying
Some students confess that they regret having a relationship during college studies because it has made their life a mess and took away the focus from the studies. Even though love and romance cannot be avoided, it is still an issue!
11. Not Travelling Enough
Most of us regret not travelling enough during the breaks or not joining an opportunity to go abroad while being a college student. Thankfully, there are things like Couchsurfing for students where you can travel cheaply and see the world!
12. Missed Opportunity of Studying Abroad
There is nothing like being an exchange student, yet it is also challenging, so not every student takes on an opportunity. In the end, it brings up obvious regrets of what could have happened.
13. Living in a Shell
As one gets older, things look different and not as hostile as they did before. It is a reason why shy students often regret keeping in the campus room most of the time and not interacting with others, going to the cinema, or a party. However, you can join ex-graduate parties and communities.
14. Missed Chance of Internship
It is what helps to get a good job position, so never ignore the opportunity if it comes your way. Presenting one of the biggest regrets among those who are not happy with their state, an internship is a bridge that jumpstarts a career!
15. Stressing Over Exams
An obvious regret that comes with failing an exam and taking it too close to heart. Even with a successful degree, most people remember their failed exams years and years later.
16. Lack of Social Skills Training
College is a great platform to train one’s social skills, yet some people just ignore the opportunity or do not know that the help is out there to become better at public speaking. There is no need to feel sad about it as there are always public speech courses online and diverse opportunities to join social work.
17. Ignoring Campus Mental Health Support Groups
We all feel depressed and go through a lot of personal issues while coping with college studies. Some students regret not turning for help earlier as their college experience was darkened by certain psychological issues.
18. Not Teaming up With Roommates
We may not be the same with our college roommates, yet teaming up with a person who is next to you when you are not at the lectures is a must. Always team up with your buddy and make the most out of it!
19. Missing on Interactive College Resources
It is especially relevant for engineering or computer science degrees where students either stuck with the lecture notes or follow the book exercises. By doing so they may miss out on innovative labs or simulations that some colleges have on board. Take a chance to utilize what your college has to offer. It is what you pay for!
20. Not Playing Sports
Okay, soccer, basketball, or tennis may be miles away from your interests, yet keeping yourself in a good shape if you only run around the campus facilities is crucial. It is not surprising why so many students wish they could use this secret key to good health and popularity!
21. Lack of Self-discipline
Some students regret working too hard because it took away all the fun. Indeed, some of us study with too much effort, which is not only wrong but also represents serious health hazards.
22. Abandoning Hobbies
Do you know these famous stories of someone being a rock star or a great athlete but then joining college and giving up on it all? Do not forget that most colleges have music bands, recording studios, and quite a lot of opportunities for sports. Do not ignore them and choose your college wisely!
23. Not Having Enough Fun
You work hard, study hard, but do you party hard? American students complain about not having enough fun and leisure in college. You have to have fun while you’re young!
24. Not Taking an Extra Course
Coming back to serious regrets, some college students regret not taking an additional course that could help them achieve better career choices and resume entries. Still, it is never too late to improve your professional qualification!
25. Following the Mass Trends
College is all about who is popular and the trends that float in the air. Be yourself, create your unique image. Stand your ground to never be just another face in the crowd!
26. Missing a Chance to Learn a Foreign Language
While it is not a common regret, learning a foreign language (as an exchange student, for example) is a great opportunity for an international career in a chosen degree. Never ignore a chance to broaden the borders!
27. Spending Too Little Time With Family and Friends
An understandable regret that no student can avoid even when living close to home. The key is planning your time and learning schedule wisely to meet family and friends with every chance.
28. Not Participating in Seminars and Conferences
Never ignore college seminars, teamwork, and conferences even if they may sound pointless and boring. Sometimes they provide more explanation than entire course materials.
29. Failing to Start Research
Some students regret not participating in college research due to bad timing or not having a good partner. Contact your college for research opportunities.
30. Falling Into Addiction
Quite a serious college life issue that most ex-addict students regret. If you suspect a drug or alcohol campus abuse, contact school counsellors in private or visit The Recovery Village for more information.
There are rarely such impactful and defining choices as those made throughout student years. Attending college is a pillar of becoming an adult and going on to a dream career. We often see it as a stage of personal growth, a chance to make connections, and take the right turn in life. You can always make a positive change you want to see. It is never too late to take your student life under control and bring in some corrections to daily life and habits. Cooperate with others, listen to what people say, ask questions, and go against the flow if it rocks your college satisfaction boat!