If I could go to college all over again, here's what I'd do differently
So a few weeks ago I was in Disneyland, having my picture taken in front of Monsters University. I was sitting on the stoop, frowning on purpose in my Mickey Mouse ears and making this joke aloud: this is the only college I could make it through!
I always joke that I majored in everything in college, and it’s partially true, and maybe even a leading cause as to why I never finished—my practical head and impractical heart kept screwing it up. That’s right, dear reader: I am a college drop out, much to my mother’s disappointment. There’s probably a few reasons why I didn’t finish, but a major one is my unwillingness to take/retake a lot of math (why do math credits never transfer?), and to pay out of state tuition when I moved to California.
Let’s just say I’m going to be paying for those 3 years of college for a really long time.
Anyway, they say that college is that special time in our lives where we learn important life skills, such as critical thinking, dating, drinking, and botany. I spent my fair share of college time casually studying all of these things, with a side of obsessive coffee consumption.
For the most part, however, I was a very dull student that showed up to class on time, and then went home. I feel like I missed out on some of the standard college-life experiences, and if If I could go back and do it over again, there are so many things I would do differently.
I would be more open to new friendships and experiences.
I was nothing if not a creature of comfort during my college years. I was still dating (and living with) my high school sweetheart, and we were so wrapped up in “being together forever” that neither of us cared about campus life or meeting new people outside our circle. This was a huge mistake: not only did we inevitably break up, as the months and years went by, time became more scarce, and it was harder to establish new friendships or be as carefree.
The truth: eventually you have a semi-serious job, and unless you’re lucky enough to interact with different people every day, you’re stuck with your coworkers for better or worse. There’s no trading them for new ones every semester, and by the time Friday rolls around you’re too tired to hit up so-and-so’s art gallery opening.
I wouldn’t change my major approximately 125 times. I would listen to my gut.
I spent 15 minutes in nursing school. I’m not even kidding; after a year of taking advanced Anatomy & Physiology classes, memorizing how to spell sternocleidomastoid, and getting fitted for student scrubs—I had a panic attack during Intro to Nursing and bailed from the building. I had no interest in being a nurse, but as my parents said, an English degree had no utility.
So I spent a lot of time and a lot of money fulfilling requirements for various degrees including,, but not limited to: health information management, sociology, funeral science, psychology, computer and web development, marketing, and more. If I’d just stuck with my sweet little darling English major the whole time, I don’t think this would’ve been a problem. (Although those funeral science classes were fascinating).
I would’ve spent more time talking to the professors, less time resenting them for making me wake up at 6am.
One of the things I realize now, especially since I work in a high school library, is that teachers are humans, too, and they probably are just as irritated as you are that they had to get up at 6am. Now that I’m older and have no problem talking to professionals that are trained in their area of expertise, I wish I’d spent more time in college taking professors up on their open door policies. I was always too intimidated to go talk to a teacher about a certain paper or topic, even if it was something I was really interested in.
In my defense, I never really understood the open door policy. I saw it as: if we’re talking, it means my grade is bad and I need help. It never hit me that it would probably be delightful for a professor to actually talk to a student (dare I say geek out?) about their class. Whenever one of my high school library patrons wants to talk to me about Haruki Murakami, it brightens my day.
I would live in a dorm.
Yeah, I said it. I would live in a dorm, and share a bathroom with a dozen other girls (do they still make dorms such as this?), and we would all hang out and be friends; or we’d annoy each other—but at least that would be a life experience, right?
I lived all of my college years in cheap Birmingham apartments with my boyfriend, and then once for a semester with my cousin who burned too many Yankee Candles. (They smelled delightful, but still.) I feel as though this is a rite of passage that I completely lost out on. Plus, not having to move/park your car because you lived on campus, in hindsight, sounds like a dream come true, you guys.
But above all else, I’d actually finish college.
I have a good job now (with health insurance! What!) that I obtained purely through job experience and the fact that my boss liked the bright red purse I carried to the interview. Still, I’d give a lot to actually have the extra time to go back to college and just finish the darn thing. However, the question has been raised: is experience just as good as a college degree these days? Maybe.
But not being able to put a graduation date on a resumé really drags down my credentials and my heart. Maybe I’ll go back; I’ll take night classes and power through all that torturous math, hating and loving every minute of it. Until then, there’s always Monsters University.