People Are Revealing What They Regret Most About Their College Years, And It's Really Eye-Opening

·17 min read

Regardless of whether you went to a community college, private college, or big state school, the college experience varies from person to person — and it's really what you make of it.

Students tossing graduation caps into the air
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I recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community if they have any regrets about their college experience, and the answers varied a lot. Here are some of them.

1."I regret the field I went into. I should have stuck with my original field of nursing, but the drive was too much, so I did photography at my community college just as smartphones were coming out."

Nurses gathered around looking at a laptop
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2."I met a guy my first year, and we were inseparable. We stayed together for six years, all through college. I knew he wasn't right for me, but we had been together for so long that it just seemed to make sense to stay together. We had bought a house together and got engaged. We split up eight months before the wedding, when he broke things off. I wish I had done it earlier and actually got to experience more of college single — rather than in a long-term relationship."

—Anonymous

3."I really wish I had gotten out of my comfort zone more socially and tried to socialize with people I normally wouldn't have. I was so caught up in 'morals' and trying to live by my parents' values that I never really made the effort to explore other social groups."

A group of college students sitting on the grass reading
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4."I wish I had gone to a community college and then transferred to a four-year college. Now that I’m buried in student loan debt, I think about how much money I could have saved if I'd taken my prerequisite courses at a community college. I think I thought that people would judge me if I didn’t go to a four-year university right out of high school."

—Anonymous

5."I wish I had been more social. I started at a two-year college with the plan to transfer to another school to save money, and while there, I had a falling out with someone I thought was my best friend, who wanted to spend more time with more popular people. I felt so burned that when I transferred to another college, I didn't participate in any social activities. She had done this to two other people in our friend group, so I'm not sure why I didn't realize that she was a social climber and I was just her friend until she found 'better' ones.'"

A young woman studying

"At my new school I had no social life, and I regret missing out on what could have been some really great friends at the second college I went to. I wish I had joined some clubs, but I already had two strikes, being a transfer student and living off campus. My biggest bit of advice would be to step out of your comfort zone and know that your 'people' are out there. You might just have to look for a little bit!"

TrishaB

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6."I was the only Jewish kid in my department, and as a result, there were often stereotypes used and jokes made at my expense. Rather than be ostracized or be called too sensitive, I went along with it and in some cases made the jokes myself. Not standing up for myself and joining in will be something I regret for the rest of my life. I should have been proud of who I was and brave enough to call them out for it."

—Anonymous

7."Honestly, my biggest college regret is going at all. I am now in so much debt, I will never be able to pay it off (thanks to interest rates). Salt in the wound: I cannot get a job in the field I studied, so now all that crippling debt is for an education I can't/don't use."

A stressed-looking young woman staring at a laptop
Damircudic / Getty Images

8."I wish I had joined more clubs and societies. I found my group of friends early on and got lazy with trying new things. But now, post-university, a lot of people seem to have far more uni friends from the sports teams they were on, and it makes me sad that I don't have those lifelong connections too."

—Anonymous

9."On the last day of recruitment week, I was torn between two sororities. I decided to go with the 'cooler' one that had the better and more popular reputation, rather than the one I actually liked more. I believe it was because of this that I never found 'my people' in college and didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have."

The exterior of a sorority house

AB

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10."Not following my gut about what I wanted to study. I've always been very interested in the arts, but only ever okay with STEM subjects. I got talked into entering college as a science major because of the potentially better job prospects. This led me to have a bad time with my intro science courses because I wasn't that interested in them. I trashed my GPA and switched to an arts major anyway. I'm several years out now and about to start law school. Sometimes I think about all the things I could've done/been if I had just done what I wanted to from the start."

—Anonymous

11."I was dealing with figuring out my sexuality and having crippling social anxiety — so I kept to myself and never made any friends. Now everyone I meet has a core group of friends from college, and I regret that I’ll never have that. I wish I had known making friends as an adult would be so much harder than doing it in college."

—Anonymous

12."I regret being pressured into going to university. I chose a terrible course at an okay university, in a city I’ve been to a hundred times. It wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. I didn’t move out of my parents' house, never went out or socialized, never got a job or joined any societies. After one and a half years, my grades were good, but my mental health was so bad that I had no choice but to drop out. Now, several years later, I’m back as an undergrad at a university that I love with great courses, teachers, and friends in a brand-new city. My advice to people thinking about college is, don’t just focus on what you want out of university; think about what you DON’T want in a school too!"

A group of college students together
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13."Transferring colleges. Got the first-year experience at one college but then had to relive all the 'new experiences' at the second one."

—Anonymous

14."I regret rushing to finish my degree. I took dual credit in high school, so by the time I went to university, I had to pick a major and take major-specific classes. My entire time there, I was never sure of what I wanted to do, so I just studied what I enjoyed (no regrets about that). I was so depressed at my school that I took a full course load every semester as well as summer classes, thinking I wanted to be done as quickly as possible. Now I’m unemployed and still depressed, and I really miss school. I wish I had enjoyed it more and taken my time."

—Anonymous

15."I regret going to school near my home. I was one of the first in my family to go to college, and it was hard for my family members, including my mom, to understand that I didn't just change addresses — I was in a demanding school trying to build a life. They would pop up at my dorm regularly (including being in my room unannounced, which made my roomies uncomfortable), try to insert themselves into my college social life, and get upset if I said I had a club meeting or needed to stay on campus to study. It wasn't just embarrassing. It stunted my ability to become fully enmeshed in campus life, as I'd hoped."

Student with family moving their things into college
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16."I went to a school where everyone was really, really wealthy and the image was everything. It became kind of a bubble, and you just felt you had to be so perfect. I wish I had stayed true to my authentic self and not tried to be anything I wasn’t, but I was vulnerable and 18 and just wanted to fit in. It took such a toll on my mental health trying to live up to these impossible standards and compare myself with others. I just had absolutely zero self-esteem and started drinking too much, blacking out, making terrible decisions involving not-good people, and not taking care of myself, and I fell into such a dark place."

"I eventually left that school after my sophomore year. It was so hard, and I was so embarrassed about what people would think. After lots of therapy, self-reflection, and time, I realized there’s really nothing wrong with exactly who I am, and the only person I ever had to prove anything to was myself. I regret letting outside opinions get to me to such a dark level that my mental health was compromised."

—Anonymous

17."I'm still in university, but I regret not looking into master's programs at universities other than where I did my BA. I now see that for the field I would like my PhD in, I need a slightly different degree, but no way can I afford another two years at uni."

M.

18."I transferred schools sophomore year — after making amazing friends my first year — to be with my high school boyfriend, who 'couldn’t live without [me] for another year.' He proceeded to unceremoniously dump me five days into the first week. I got to watch firsthand as he rebounded with a bunch of girls, while I was left devastated and without any friends."

A girl leaning against a shelf reading

"It affected me so much that I dropped out, floundered for a few years, and was pretty self-destructive. I finally did get my act together, finished a degree, and now have a successful career, but it ruined the 'college experience.' I wish I’d been stronger and knew better then."

—Anonymous

Rudi_suardi / Getty Images

19."Being worried about money and not traveling more. My roommate was from Japan. Why didn't I visit her and have a free place to stay?! Or skip on going to the Bahamas and splitting a hotel room with five other people? Now I have the money to do these things, and everyone is boring and busy with their families or jobs. I think you should have fun while you're young. Don't worry about the money!"

—Anonymous

20."I regret ever applying for and receiving a credit card. There was a table set up on campus with people actively persuading freshly legal adults to sign up for these credit cards. I got one with a $10,000 limit! Needless to say, I was not responsible for all that money and credit, and that debt followed me for years. If you’re gonna get a credit card that young, be smart about it."

Stressed student in class with their hands over their face
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21."I regret not changing my major. I went in choosing English because I’d had years of excelling at it, but I’d taken my first psychology class my senior year of high school, and it absolutely blew my mind. I enjoyed it more than any English class I’d ever had and really wanted to choose it as my college major. However, my mom wanted me to be an English teacher because it was what she had always wanted to do, and I was so severely afraid of disappointing her that I stuck with English even though I could barely stand it. I did well in all my English classes, but I enjoyed the psych classes so, so much more. Now I’m stuck with a virtually useless English degree, not wanting to be a teacher."

Cats4EverBoysWhatever

22."I regret not studying abroad. I was too busy in every student organization, and when I looked up, it was time to graduate!"

Airplane flying with a low sun in the sky
Jaroslaw Kilian / Getty Images/iStockphoto

23."I was so concerned with finishing school and getting a job that I forgot to have fun."

trgreen1711

24."I regret going away to school. I’d never been away from home for that long, and I really crashed and burned. My anxiety and depression were so intense when I got to college. I ended up leaving by Halloween with a medical withdrawal. Went to a community college that January, and it all worked out."

katiem4493674a4

25."Picking the wrong friends. They weren’t bad or unkind, I just learned a lot about who I was sophomore year. It turned out I didn’t fit in my first-year friend group, but it was too late by then. Everyone’s group had solidified."

jillannk3

A girl in bed at night looking at her phone
Oscar Wong / Getty Images

26."I regret not studying more and taking my major seriously. I met and dated a toxic guy and spent all my time on our relationship. By the time I graduated, I had no idea what to do with my life — my grades were so poor that I could not even consider going to grad school. Eventually, after doing a yearlong stint teaching English in China, I found out what I was truly passionate about and enrolled in a college to pursue my early childhood education diploma. Having learned my lesson in university, I took things a lot more seriously this time around. If I could repeat university again, however, I'd do it without hesitation and focus more on my academics."

cobrakaineverdies

27."I regret switching my major now because my interests changed. Originally I wanted to be a forensic biologist, so I was on track to get a BS in biology. However, I lost interest in forensics and took some time off from college. I returned and instead obtained a BA in art."

"I am still very much into art, but I didn't actually need to make that my major to be able to do it. I could have made it a minor instead or just taught myself. Over the last six to seven years, I have become far more interested in wildlife and conservation. I watch a ton of wildlife documentaries, and my focus in photography has shifted to wildlife. I would love to do something with that, but all of those jobs require at least a BS in biology.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would major in biology, with a focus on wildlife, and minor in art. But I'm in my mid-30s now, and I just don't want to do another four years of schooling."

doofenshmirtzevilinc

28."I wish we could get rid of the 'dream school' idea. It has too much pressure and financial expectation. Pick a school that has qualities you like, including price."

College enrollment papers
Designer491 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

29."I wish I had gone to an HBCU instead of the school I chose in the '90s. I think it would have prepared me better for life as a Black woman."

arickas

30."I wish I could have done my general education classes at a community college. Would have been a lot cheaper."

Yes

31."I really wish I had taken the time to join a fraternity. I think it would have enhanced my college experience a lot and would have helped me make friends. And it would have given me a community to connect with at subsequent reunions. I feel like I missed out by not having the Greek experience. I know Greek life gets a bad rap and it’s not all fun — but it would have been nice to be a part of something like that."

The exterior of a frat house in a city
Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

32."I regret not exploring the city I went to school in more. I went to a school in an urban area because I prefer cities and didn't want to feel too isolated or too 'in a bubble.' I did get to know a good part of it, but during senior week, I went barhopping and visited some cool restaurants and realized how much I missed out on — but it was too late. It's hard to make time for everything in college because there's so much to do, but I feel like it's worth it to get to know the city you're living in."

An empty city street
Albertpego / Getty Images/iStockphoto

33."I went to a small, religious college because I got a free ride, and I really wanted to be far away from my family for a while because my father and I were butting heads so badly."

"I was already a pretty liberal atheist when I started and had been for years, and I had trouble forming close relationships and just generally being comfortable on a small, conservative, religious campus. I wish I'd gone to a state college, where I still would've qualified for scholarships and had more opportunities, both academic and personal. Also, I wish that I'd studied abroad for at least a semester."

lifegivesmemelons

34."I really regret not taking a gap year or years during COVID. Two years of my college career were stolen from me — which was a major bummer because I go to school overseas. I obviously understood (matter of fact, I welcomed) the safety precautions taken, such as the government lockdowns and quarantining. However, because of societal pressure to finish uni straight after high school, I decided to continue university online instead of holding off until the lockdowns ended and we resumed in-person classes. I wish I had had the strength to stand up to my parents and their traditional beliefs and tell them that taking a year or two off is what I wanted so I could fully enjoy my uni experience."

A man with headphones on working in front of a laptop

"Make your own choices regardless of what people say, because at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to live with them."

kombuche

Vanessa Nunes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

35."I wish I'd taken the academic side of things more seriously. I ended up in a major I didn't really care about, and as a result, my grades dropped. I lost a couple of scholarships I'd had, and I had to take out loans that I'm still paying off over a decade later."

"If I could go back knowing what I know now, I'd probably major in something boring and practical that would lead to a job that wouldn't drain me creatively so I could focus on doing creative things outside of work."

werewolfandswearwolf

36."I regret comparing myself and my academic path with other students. I have no aptitude for STEM, and I wish I'd just accepted my natural abilities and interests instead of envying the premeds so much. I tried so desperately to fit myself into some sort of prestigious 'mold' all the time that I never gave myself the opportunity to try to discover who I really am."

hiitsnicetomeetyou

37."I regret starting university with a long-distance boyfriend. It stopped me from socializing as much as I should have done because of scheduled calls and feeling the need to prioritize him. I would have made more friends and gotten involved more had I started university single (or at least with someone less needy)."

Llama

Do you have any college regrets? Share them with me in the comments below!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.