Parkin: What College Graduates Wish They Had Known


The Daily Utah Chronicle

By Natalie Parkin

“College is the best time of your life. When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night?”

This quote by David Wood, a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, may be funny, but I think many can relate. College is the best time of your life. There are so many opportunities available to you right now that you may not have once you graduate.

It’s not uncommon for college students to graduate with regrets, wishing they had done this or not done that. We all have regrets in life. Luckily for us, some of those regrets can be passed on for others to learn from.

Since my time at the University of Utah isn’t quite over, I sat down with several college graduates to inspire a list of what I think people most commonly wish they had known during their time in college. Those I spoke with had some surprising responses, especially since none of them commented on wishing they had higher grades or studied harder in class to get on, say, the honor roll.

Focus on Learning, Not Grades

When we get to college, our main focus is often on our GPA and succeeding academically with A’s across the board. This is not a bad thing, especially if you plan to go further in your education than a bachelor’s degree. However, most college graduates have discovered that in — for example — the business world, once you graduate from college, your grades mean absolutely nothing. It doesn’t matter if you got an A or a C. What’s important are the skills you developed and what you can bring to a company. Don’t worry too much about a grade percentage. Focus on learning and growing in and out of the classroom.

Take Advantage of Office Hours

Your professors and TA’s are not just there to hand out papers and give lectures. They are there to help you do succeed. It’s their job, so just ask for help. It may be scary to ask for help at first, but if you’re struggling in the course, you may need to get over that fear so you can learn the material. Take advantage of their office hours to utilize one on one attention.

Discover Internships

Internships are your best assets in the professional world. The contacts you develop through professional development and networking opportunities are your gateways to getting good jobs out of college. Not only do they provide hands-on experience in your field, but they look great on résumés. Talk to your counselors about internships in your field of interest. They’ll help find the best one for you.

Get Involved on Campus

We’ve heard this concept a million times over, but oddly enough, many college graduates regret not being more involved. Clubs, sororities, campus activities and programs provide friendships and lasting memories for students. There is more to college than just grades and an overloaded backpack. College is a great time to get a little crazy and live out of your comfort zone. So get involved, take risks and dive into life.

Study Abroad

When else are you going to have the opportunity to travel to a foreign country with the help of scholarships and grants and all for college credit? Money can be an issue, but scholarships and study abroad grants help. Out of all the college graduates I interviewed who went abroad and drained their bank accounts in the process, not one regretted it. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to study different cultures, learn new languages, develop interesting skills for your career and explore the world’s beauty. Take advantage of those travel opportunities now. Once you graduate college and life begins, you may not have those opportunities again.

Your college chapter of life is not long, yet it’s a big part of your life. If there’s one piece of advice you can take away, take advantage of your time at the U. Enjoy every day, learn, grow and take risks. There’s no better time.

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