5 Things I Would Have Done Differently in College


As a tour guide at Berkeley, I spent hours each week telling students and parents just how amazing college is; I think doing that job for over two years is a big part of the reason I miss college so much now. Though I can’t regret too many things from the incredible four years I had, there are definitely a few things I would have done differently. Here are five of them, in no particular order. (Keep in mind this is a list purely from the perspective of a Humanities major). Please share yours!

5. Studied abroad sooner: While second semester junior year is the most popular time to take a break and party abroad for a few months (I went even later and took my first semester senior year off), I wish I had gone much earlier, and I think colleges should promote studying abroad sooner in college careers. It is often a very impactful experience for many of the students who go; I know some of my goals certainly shifted during my time in South Africa. However, coming back with only a semester or a year left leaves little time to apply any of these things learned from study abroad to a change in major, minor, or extra-curricular involvement.

4. Done less reading: This is not a euphemism for saying I should have slacked off more in class; I did plenty of that. But I definitely wasted more than enough time trying to absorb 100 straight pages of academic article in one sitting. I finally had a professor my fourth year that gave us advice beyond “do all the reading for my class.” Because all good academic writing is front-loaded (and he only assigned us good academic writing, of course), he told us that to understand an article, we only needed to do the following: Read the first 5 pages (or so) of an article. Read them slowly and read them multiple times – however long it took to understand those first 5 pages. Then read the conclusion. By then, you should know everything important about the ideas in the article and why the professor assigned it. This works incredibly well.

3. Picked all of my (optional) classes based on professor and not topic: At the start of every semester, I would inevitably read a really interesting sounding course, decide that it was so fascinating that I didn’t care who was teaching it, and sign up anyway. Sometimes this worked out well, but many times it did not. Any topic is boring with a boring professor, and any topic can be interesting with a good one. Looking back, I really don't regret missing out on classes of a certain topic, but I do regret missing out on a handful of well-known and incredible professors whose classes I passed over because they didn’t fall into my major or usual realm of interest. 

2. Auditioned for The Vagina Monologues: I did very few things throughout college that was not related to politics, and I do regret that. Every year, The Vagina Monologues was a phenomenal performance done by women who mostly had no previous acting experience; I have friends that took on the challenge and said it was the best thing they did in college. I'm sure I would have felt similarly if I had taken on such a unique and challenging experience for myself. I think it is so important to get involved in a purely non-academic way, and in a way that is unrelated to your usual extra curricular activities; people predominately stay involved in college with the same sports, groups, and activites they did in high school even though there are myriad new opporunities available. Which brings me to my last one...

1. Joined the Quidditch Team on my campusSeriously, that would have been awesome.

Photo Credit: John-Morgan