If you’ve graduated recently, chances are you’re looking back longingly at your college career — the freedom to pursue love and art, to sleep in and wake up near your friends.
But you probably also regret something you did. Whether your regrets involve the classes you didn’t take or the friends you spent your time with or the experiences you didn’t make time for, we can now pass that wisdom onto everyone who’s still in school.
So to all you keg-standing, friend-making machines still partying it up out there, save yourself some trouble. Take these regrets-turned-tips to heart, and you’ll leave college six steps closer to a lucrative dream job and fulfilling life:
1. Dump that dude
Or chick. Chances are, that phat honey who totally has a car freshman year is not your soul mate. And if he is, you’re still better off being friends until after college.
Not only have you got dating (and making out) to do, but more importantly, now is the time to network. Because trust me, the fish in the post-graduate friend-making sea are not especially fresh and if there is any time to be single and social, it’s when you are 19, relatively hot and sans partner.
2. Join a team
Athletic, academic or inter-or-intra-varsity, it doesn’t matter.
Work out with the triathlon club. Show up for chess competitions. Meet people. Revel in the glory of the 24-hr IHOP with people who are actually up to going any time of the night.
Now is the time to get exercise, meet friends, and figure out what you like to do, because someday you will feel old at the bars and tired after 11 p.m.
Plus, if you want any chance of learning what dream job will make you excited to get out of bed in the morning, you want to try out a few hobbies.
3. Go to office hours
Professors are a) interesting, b) interested in talking to you, and c) incredibly important to keep in touch with for the rest of your life. Don’t be a nameless face in a crowd (which is too easy nowadays, with rising class sizes).
Go to office hours with a few questions (make them up, if you have to) and get to know your professor. Get involved in your field on a social level to reap the professional and academic rewards later in life, when you’ll really need to know how to ace a tenure interview or publish your book.
4. Minor in your passion
Major in some money.
Here’s why: You can read Dostoyevsky and think about the plight of the farmer in sixteenth century Russia on your free time, at the gym, while drunk and on the way home from your high-paying corporate job. But you won’t have that job if you major in your passion.
Save your artistic interests for your minor while you major in something that will guarantee a paycheck, like business, finance, technology and media.
These fields will help you find a job right after graduation, gain valuable experience (and savings), and provide you with the perspective you need to identify, pursue, and attain your dream job down the line.
How much did you make at that summer job in college? Maybe $5.15 or $6.15 per hour?
The paycheck may as well been called “gas fund,” but just imagine if you had saved those measly paychecks instead of complaining about how small they were. Chances are you wouldn’t be in debt over a couch several years later.
Every. Penny. Counts. So save them all.
And here’s another little tip: saving does not mean putting money in your bank and thinking about all the things you’ll spend it on in the next month.
Saving means putting it in the bank and dreaming of the day you give two weeks notice to your 9-to-5 job (plus commute) in favor of jumping on an opportunity that came your way. But none of that can happen if you spend your cash on PBR tonight.
6. Live it up
Take an obscenely large number of photos of everything, everyone, all the time.
Sleep in til 1pm. Skip a class or two. Then take an 8 a.m. class and be up at 5 a.m. for a few semesters.
Try everything once, and the good things twice.
It is only through experiencing the outer reaches of lifestyle that you will figure out who you are and what you want as an adult. So the best possible scenario is to try it all out in this relatively consequence-free environment instead of waiting for the volunteer campus police to be real-life cops.
Oh, and thank your meal-plan lunch lady. Because shortly after graduating, you will have to shop for groceries, and then take those groceries and cook them, and those first few tries will not be pretty.
Sarah Greesonbach is a Content Management Specialist with a lot on the backburner (if you count lolcats and Words with Friends). She manages and writes for the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc and is studying to be an Accredited Personal Financial Counselor.