Make the most of college; don’t graduate with regrets

Matt Shenker
Guest Columnist

I recently was involved in a dinner-table discussion with recent college graduates. The sentiment of the conversation was a bit cliché, but thought-provoking. Graduates have real jobs in the real world and real regrets.

It’s a typical cliche to point to people “missing their college years,” but if you’re thinking that you couldn’t possibly ever be one of those people, think again.

For starters, once you have entered the workforce, summer vacation isn’t quite the luxury it once was. On average, most U.S. employers give out eight paid vacation days a year. Comparing those eight days to the free time the majority of college students have in their schedules, there is a considerable drop-off.

Suddenly, you are immersed in the workplace that you’ve worked toward, you no longer have the free time to take a leisurely vacation to the beach or to your favorite summer getaway at least not if you want to have vacation days during the rest of the year.

Summer vacations aren’t the only thing that fade away when the college years end. Along with a newly adopted real-world schedule come many new privileges and opportunities, along with many opportunities that may have been left behind and unexplored. While enrolled in school at VCU we have tremendous study abroad opportunities.

In college, there are reduced rates to travel across the world and immerse one’s self into another country.

At VCU, there are various program opportunities that include 30-40 different trip options during any given year. Then program option are faculty-led international trips. Many of these trips are offered at a reduced rate, even incorporating financial aid.

While you may be one of those people who would rather focus on your studies and take an international vacation once you have a stable job, remember that on average, you may only get those eight vacation days and there may not be an opportunity presented like the ones that are available to you as students.

The biggest thing that was complained about around my dinner-table discussion with recent graduates was the lack of free time. All of them expressed how much they missed the free time to take naps or see their college friends. A lot of us take this aspect for granted. If you’re not one of the college students who also work part-time, then that means you have an incredibly flexible schedule with your life. That means you are afforded the luxury to build in considerable free time for leisure whether that be among friends or just some personal time.

Along with that, it’s more difficult within that schedule to build time in for new friends. Twenty-eight percent of Americans meet their future spouse in college. If you don’t happen to meet your future significant other, then the places to meet potential dating partners shrink tremendously. You are no longer immersed with potential matches who are around your same age.

VCU is known as one of the most diverse universities in the state. There are over 31,000 undergraduate students. This means that you are surrounded by 31,000 different personalities who may be seeking any of the more than 200 degree programs the school has to offer, all encircled around each of our daily lives available for new friendships and potential dating partners.

Not only are we all faced with tens of thousands of people who are similar in age to us, but we are also faced with potentially the greatest diversity of personalities in large number that we will be faced with our entire lives, raising the probability of us finding our potential soul mate or long-term dating partner.

If you are one of those students who decides to simply keep their head down and not socialize or attempt to meet a dating partner in college and would rather wait until after graduation to meet someone, consider this: Once you enter the average workplace, you begin spending more than 50 percent of your time in the workplace.

Life after college certainly has its advantages and there are many doors available to walk through and many things to enjoy, but there’s a reason that it’s a typical cliché for people to miss their college years once they’ve graduated. Although you may, miss things about college, there doesn’t have to be a long list of regrets.

We all have goals when we go through school, get good grades, socialize, and preparing yourself for life after college, may be some of the example goals. Regardless of your goals, remember to enjoy the moment and don’t let opportunities that may be a good fit for you pass you by.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply