3 Biggest Regrets Recent College Graduates Have

July 15, 2015

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Ideally, the time after a student graduates from college is largely positive. However, even if life is generally good for a recent graduate, most of them carry one or two regrets. So, what is it that college graduates wish they would have done differently? Not every college graduate has the same set of regrets, however there are 3 that are very common among recent graduates. Let’s take a look at them, explore the impact these regrets have on the lives of students, and how they can be avoided.

  • Accumulating too much Debt

When a student turns 18 it is inevitable that they will begin receiving an onslaught of credit card offers. These offers come in brightly colored envelopes, and contain lots of marketing lingo aimed at appealing to the young adult’s desire for financial independence. They also take aim at the naturally impulsive nature of young adults and their desire to live a fun and exciting lifestyle. Clearly these marketing tactics work because the average college student graduates with a credit card debt of more than 4k. Sadly, this is only part of the often unfortunate financial picture for recent college graduates. The average student financial aid is almost 30k. This is bad enough when these aids are federally funded, but if students have taken this debt on through private lenders, they may end up paying astronomical interest rates.

So, what can be done to prevent this? First, students must be financially literate, and high school is the best place for this to happen. Simply teaching students the actual amount of money they will pay on a credit purchase of 1K can open their eyes to the dangers of credit card debt. Financial literacy classes can also be places where students learn about student financial aids, how to avoid high interest rates, how to pay down interest while they are in school, and ways in which they can survive their college years while taking on as little debt as possible.

  • Failing to Select a more Marketable Major

Unfortunately, when students select a major they often do so during the first year of school. Many students simply don’t have the maturity and foresight to make this decision. So, they end up making a decision based on what seems as if it would be “fun” or what is currently trendy. What they don’t often take into consideration is the likelihood that they will find a job in their chosen field, the amount of money they are likely to make, or whether or not their chosen major matches their natural talents. The result is that students graduate without any good job prospects, or they cannot make enough money to cover their expenses.

How can students who feel so passionately about their majors at the ages of 18 or 19 be encouraged to take a step back and think long-term? One way is to have students simply look at the numbers. Another potential solution is to encourage students pursuing 4 year degrees to take a variety of liberal arts courses their first two years and then waiting to declare before they enter their junior years. This was once the standard at many colleges, and it allowed students to mature and learn more about their own talents before making this important decision.

  • Not Making the Most of Their Opportunities

Internships, positions in student government, studying abroad, athletics, student organizations, community service – nearly every college student has the opportunity to participate in at least a few of these. Sadly, many of them do not. Instead, they busy themselves with studying, working, and hanging out with their inner circle of friends. Do they enjoy their college years? Many of them do. However, after graduation it is natural to realize that many great opportunities were wasted and to regret that. After all, it is rarely possible for people to go back and have those experiences again.

Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to avoid this regret. The only thing that can be done is to make sure that advisors are telling their students about the opportunities that are available to them, and helping them pursue these opportunities if they wish to.