When I moved to a new apartment a few months ago, I spitefully hung up my diploma in the downstairs bathroom. People usually come out chuckling, and I usually tell them something like “It can come out when I finish paying for it.”
I went to school for writing, which was at once a stroke of brilliance and the mark of a madman. Writing is a thrillingly useful skill to have for a number of reasons, not the least of which is being able to give my friends a verbal thrashing when they misspell or mispronounce something.
So my time in college was not without its merits. Even so, I’ve come away with some pretty significant regrets, and so I hope to inspire some of you who are – or who soon will be – immersed in your own college experience. Here are the four biggest mistakes I made.
1. I didn’t save my money
I could have known I was in trouble when my roommate left unceremoniously one anonymous evening halfway through our sophomore year to take time off for personal reasons. When he did, he took his 42-inch plasma TV with him. I pretended to deliberate for a whole two days, but in the end I ended up justifying my purchase of a similar television with the weak-ass argument that I needed it to watch movies for my Film Studies classes.
2. I lost track of my high school friends
Some of my college friends stayed in touch with their high school friends while others did not; your mileage may vary. Still, I do wish I’d kept in touch with them a little better. Technology robs us of a new reason to be out-of-touch each day, so I’m more than a little bit embarrassed that I still haven’t picked up the phone or even sent a Facebook message to try to rebuild bridges with my former best friend from grade school. The occasional birthday wishes on our Timelines will have to do until one of us either gets married or dies.
3. I didn’t diversify my classes
As I mentioned, I studied writing in college. There’s no question that I’m a better writer for it, but I have yet to find what we colloquially refer to as my “calling,” which for me is now known as: “the best of limited options.” If I could do it again, I’d have gotten a dual major in finance or something else I wouldn’t have to justify to my judgmental aunts and grandmothers.
4. I didn’t find an affordable school
What I mean is that I’ll be paying for my education until I’m 40. I got an impressive handful of scholarships and grants, but you know what they say: even if you buy a $1000 television for $600, you haven’t saved $400; you’ve simply spent $600.
I fell in love with the artistry of the landscaping and the quaint brick buildings. There’s no question that it was the best school I could have hoped to attend, but even a cursory glance at the more profitable investments I could have made with all that money is enough to lose sleep over.