Lifehacker and The Simple Dollar have been posting more content than usual geared toward college students, and it got me thinking about my own college experience. It was a great one. I worked hard, but I didn’t work smart at all, and because of that I’m not sure I lived up to my potential.
This isn’t intended to be a list of regrets. I’m reflecting on a path I set out on when I was 17, and my perspective on it from my mid-twenties is understandably a little different.
What I Wish I’d Done In College
Basically, I wish I’d scheduled my time as though college were my 40 hour per week job. Mind you that when I was in college I’d never had such a thing as a full-time job. Still, I don’t think it would have been beyond me to:
- set a regular (reasonably flexible) work schedule, planning to spend about 8 hours a day either in class or involved in studies;
- spend time at the beginning of each semester marking not just mandatory class times on my calendar, but also project due-dates and my own draft due-dates;
- make it my business to go to each prof’s office hours at least once;
- treat class time more seriously (like it was a meeting or a conference) by taking notes and behaving in a more openly friendly way to my classmates.
I also wish I’d done a few less serious “school is your job” -type things, such as:
- joining a club that would take me off campus on a regular basis;
- sleeping more consistently;
- spending more than one semester taking a karate class.
And honestly, I can’t help but wonder if taking a year or two between high school and college and doing AmeriCorps or some such work would have made the above wishes realities instead.
Again, no regrets. I took interesting classes, did respectably well in them (except chemistry), made incredible friends, enjoyed participating in music programming, and reached out to some profs and acquaintences I hope I’ll still be acquainted with years from now. I was also introduced to life in the Twin Cities and have continued living here since graduation. I think of it all as a success. And I’d have a different kind of success if I started it in September 2009 instead.