5 People Told Us Their Biggest Regrets From Uni (So You Don’t Make The Same Mistakes)

Slow down and take it all in.

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When I was at uni, I spent my time worrying. Worrying about the future, about assignments, about getting to my 2.30pm shift on time. So many things were happening all at once and I felt like I was always looking forward instead of calming down, being in the moment, and enjoying myself.

In order to squash any fears, doubts or uncertainties about the days that are supposed to be our best, we asked some grads* (*grown-ups) what they wish they had done while they were still studying.

Here’s what they reckon you should do to avoid having regrets about your uni days

Not Doing The Readings

As a recent uni graduate, I think I should come out and confess my silliest regret. During my arts degree in English, I hardly read any of the prescribed novels or readings.

I love reading — which is why I did the course in the first place — but instead of reading the books I was supposed to, I read ones I chose for myself. This meant my essays were half-baked ramblings based entirely on SparkNotes summaries. Whoops.

Now, a year or so after graduating, I’ve read most of those “boring uni novels” in my own time and loved them. In fact, I loved reading them all so much that I wish that I had someone (an expert professor, perhaps) to listen to my detailed thoughts and feelings on them (much like, say, in an essay format).

Geeking out is really fun and uni is the perfect time to explore your passions. Don’t miss out on your chance.

Worrying About What People Think

Amelia Marshall, 30, described herself as a “sheltered goody two shoes from the suburbs” when she started uni and felt seriously overwhelmed by all the “uni speak” and intellectual concepts. “I was intimidated by everyone and everything,” she told Uni Junkee. Feels I’m sure all of us can relate to.

“I felt like my tutors and lecturers would find out what a fraud I was, so I was reluctant to speak up in class or knock on their door during office hours,” she says. “As I continued in my degree I began to feel more sure of myself and realised that confidence begets confidence.” In other words, tell yourself that everything’s fine, and everything will be fine.

She adds, “The worst thing that someone can say to you is “no”. But it’s a real shame to tell yourself no first.”

Not Going To Class As Much As You Should

While missing the odd tute or two for a cheeky beer at the pub is basically a rite of passage, Osman Faruqi, 27, found himself deeply regretting it once he realised just how much his degree cost.

“Here’s the thing about your HECS debt that’s messed up,” he told Uni Junkee. “When you’re at uni, you don’t even think about it. You just press a button, some numbers flash up on the screen and you go to class. It’s like Monopoly money.”

“Fast forward four years and you realise you’ve clocked up a $40,000 debt with nothing to show for it other than an extremely intimate knowledge of the uni pub.”

He advises that skipping class is fun at the time, but it’s not so fun when you realise how much money you wasted. Noted.

Not Interning Sooner

Another big regret that popped up is a lack of experience. Nadia Nawaz, 30, wishes that she focused on getting more experience while she was at uni, instead of graduating a little… clueless.

“I wish I had interned more during uni and got practical experience,” she told us. “I didn’t start interning until my last year and I feel like it would have helped me get a job sooner if I had.”

Learn, experience, rinse, repeat.

Not Making It To Graduation

For Sarah Jones*, 29, the biggest regret was not making it to the finish line and graduating with that shiny piece of paper.

“After five years of law, I accepted a cadetship in the radically different field of journalism,” she says. “I tried to manage study and working full time in a busy newsroom but it was nearly impossible, so I deferred a few years in a row.”

It makes sense. You go to uni to get a job, so why would you keep going if you’ve already got a job? Once she was in the workforce, Sarah was promoted quickly and frequently, giving her no real reason to head back and finish off her remaining subjects. And since 10 years have passed since she began the degree, she’s not eligible to complete it.

“Now, eight years into my career, I realise that not having a degree knocks me out of the running for any government or ABC jobs, and limits my options going forward.”

Uni feels really hard while you do it. Actually, what am I saying? It is really hard. But powering through and getting it done is much better in the long run.

*name has been changed.

(Lead image: Ronny Chieng International Student/Facebook)