College is all about learning. You learn how to drink six coffees in a day, you learn how to do just enough research that you can claim you properly sourced your essay, and at the end of it all, you (hopefully) learn how to be an adult. You know, someone who can do their own laundry, hold down a full-time job, and carry on a civilized conversation with a member of the opposite gender.
But one of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, whether it’s forgetting your calculator for the big test, falling in with the wrong crowd, or going to the wrong school and ending up with the wrong career and realizing it ten years too late.
But there are some mistakes that just about all college students make–things that just didn’t seem that important at the time. Cleanliness was overrated. Your health, who cared? But in retrospect, you now realize you should have thought things through before you did them. Why did you live there? Why did you fail that test? Why did you go out with that person?
You might have been ushered off after high school with delusions of grandeur, but at the end of the day, college is all about figuring out the person you were meant to be all along. And often, you can’t know what decisions you want to make until you’ve made all the wrong ones first. In college, you were like a blind mouse making its way through a maze. Nope, not that exit. No, not that one either. You kept going until, a little worse for the wear, you finally made your way out (maybe).
They warned you that college wouldn’t be easy. You just didn’t realize until far too late that they weren’t talking about the classes.
15. Pulled Four Straight All-Nighters
All-nighters seemed like a great idea back in the day. Whether all you wanted to do was party, hook up with your next-door neighbor, watch movies all night, or write that perfect essay, sleep always seemed to come in second place. But who needs sleep anyway, right? A few hours of wandering through the halls bleary-eyed supported by three cups of watery coffee was a small price to pay for a night of unforgettable fun or an extra half-grade on your term paper.
But now, you’re a couple of years older, and you just can’t get those black circles under your eyes to go away no matter how many extra naps you take. And how come you’re so tired all the time?
While you might have thought that you could make up for those all-nighters by spending the following weekend in, researchers say that it can take several months to catch up on lost sleep. Sleep isn’t like a measuring cup, where you can skim an inch off the top and add it back in later. It’s a complicated human process that’s all about body chemistry. So, in a way, your brain will never really recover from all those hours you lost in university.
14. Skipped All Those Classes
When you started out at college, you made a promise to yourself: I’m going to take this seriously. This isn’t high school anymore where you can just screw off for all of fourth period and get away with it. I’m putting my own money into this, you said. I’m investing for my future! I’ll never skip!
And you held that promise…for about a week. Then you woke up one day a little late and realized as you thought about getting out of bed that the prof would never even know that you missed his lecture. You told yourself you’d catch up online later.
Then the next thing you know, you’re sitting in an exam room answering multiple choice questions and trying to figure out what happened to the units you actually remember studying. Then, you remember that this final is worth 50% of your mark and you wish you’d held up your end of that frosh week bargain.
13. Spent All That Money On Liberal Arts
Everyone told you go to university. It’ll be good for you, they said. You’ll make better money and have a successful career, they said. And for a while, you went along with it. You attended your English Lit classes and felt like a more educated individual. There weren’t any real co-op opportunities, but that didn’t worry you because you knew you were getting an education. You were going to be the life of the cocktail party with your understanding of Derrida. Eventually, once you finally got that perfect job that fit right into your passions and paid you a decent salary.
But now you’re thirty and flipping burgers for minimum wage and still paying back a thirty-thousand dollar debt and you have to wonder…was it really worth it? All that time spent studying and writing mind-numbing essays about Nietzche and post-modern lit, all for this?
12. Tried To Pick Up High School Girls
It was college, and you still felt young. You still felt like the coolest cool kid in high school—the one that could play at being an “adult” around all your friends who were still mucking through Grade 12. So it didn’t seem so bad when you went back to your old high school just to check out how the niners filled out. You didn’t mean anything by it; it wasn’t serious. You just had to find out if your “college-guy” charm would work on the type of high school cutie who wouldn’t even look your way when you were a pimply junior.
But now you’re a couple years older and you actually feel like an adult, and looking back, you realize how gross and pervy that whole situation was. You had no business flirting with 16-year-olds after you turned 19 because not only was it wrong, but it was also illegal. Besides, there are lots of cuties in first year now.
11. Failed Classes
You spent all that time buffing up your Grade 12 marks to get into a good school. They said your high school marks mattered so much, and so even though you skipped half of Grade 11 English, you made sure to lug your a*s to class for almost every day of Grade 12 just so you could get that 80 on your transcript.
But now that you’re here, you feel like you’ve made it. You put in a good effort for a semester or two, and then you slowly start to let things slide. You don’t need these grades to get in anywhere else, so what’s wrong with letting that one essay run a few days late? Or a few weeks late…or maybe, actually, you know, I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate with finals coming up, and it’s only worth 10% of my grade after all.
It’s all well and good until you’re sitting there on academic probation and you have to make that dreaded phone call. “Mom, I just blew 5 grand. Can you cover my tuition for next semester?”
10. Moved Away From Home
God, you couldn’t wait to get out of your Mom’s basement. If there was one thing that was holding you back in the world, it was living with Mom. Mom, who told you to take out the garbage and do your own dishes and not spend all day playing Mario and smoking weed?
But then you went to college. And the freedom was exhilarating at first. I’m going to let my garbage pile up for three weeks if I want to! I’m going to spend the whole weekend playing video games and not eat a single vegetable!
But now you’re a month into the semester, your bedroom smells like a homeless person’s, and you still haven’t figured out how to do your laundry. You haven’t done any of your homework and you might be failing all of your classes, plus the cafeteria food stinks and you could really go for some home-cooked roast beef and mashed potatoes right about now…
9. Skipped Club Day
You always planned to go to Club Day, but you never quite made it. It was too early in the semester and you went out drinking the night before, and by the time you woke up, it was already 1 in the afternoon and you figured you didn’t have time to get through all the booths by the end of the day. Besides, clubs are for losers, anyway—people who didn’t have real friends on campus and had to join a club to feel popular. Maybe there was one club that you wish you had joined, but you could always go back and join later if you wanted to, right?
But now you’re in your last year, you’re looking for a co-op placement, and you’re trying to fill out a resume. And you’ve got…nothing. There’s that part-time fry cook job you had when you were sixteen and after that, it’s crickets. If only you had some kind of club or organization to put on there to make it look like you had something resemble work and leadership experience. If only you’d joined that club that was basically the perfect preparation for your field.
8. Tried To Play Tough
You were cool in high school. You were the man in your friend group, and no one tried to mess with you. And now that you’re in a different environment, you’ve got to show tough and be that alpha male. So when someone gets in your face, you’re going to get right back in his face to show how tough you really are.
Except, really, you’re just a suburban frat boy with some lame friends, and the guy who’s getting in your face is a kid from the street who means business. You were just trying to be a real man, but now you’re in the hospital waiting for them to stitch your head back together as you wonder if maybe you were a little too drunk and stepped over the line. Maybe you should go back to being the “tough guy” around your lame-a*s friends who would never even try to challenge you and not worry so much about what everyone else thinks.
7. Hooked Up With Someone From Your Friend Group
You’re young and you’re hormonal and you’re hanging out with a new crowd, so there’s no doubt that there’s going to be attraction. Joe and Cindy were a couple when you met them, but now they seem to be having problems and you secretly have huge feelings for Cindy, but she’s actually more into Mark and…
Romance is complicated; and more complicated when you’re just starting out at university. It always seems like there’s a crew that forms and everything’s chill until someone sleeps with someone, someone else gets jealous, and suddenly when you all hang out, it’s not so cool anymore. Relationships break up and things get awkward. You guys used to all go out to Burger King together and then wind up at one guy’s place afterwards to play Settlers of Catan. But now, there’s a girl who refuses to go over there because of some personal business. Suddenly, everyone has his/her own agenda. Someone wants to get drunk, someone else wants to go to the movies, and someone else just isn’t all that interested in hanging out with him anymore. She’d rather go clubbing and try and pick up some cute frat boys, and she doesn’t need her loser guy friends hanging around interfering with her game.
6. Used Residence Bathrooms
Dorm residence bathrooms are some of the grossest places on the planet. Let’s take a bunch of hormonal teenagers who have never lived away from home, cram them all onto one floor, and let them use the same washroom. You can only pray that those showers get cleaned every day. But judging from the fact that you’ve only seen the janitorial staff twice since you’ve moved in, you know that’s highly unlikely. So you’re stuck showering in a dank stall covered in god-knows-what kinds of bodily fluids.
And that’s even before some frat boy gets drunk and decides it’s a great idea to toilet-paper the boy’s bathroom, so now you have to take the elevator down a floor to share the girl’s which, if anything, is even worse. If there’s one thing grosser than a tampon disposal bin, it’s a tampon disposal bin that isn’t getting used…
You’re better off to find that one friend who was smart enough to rent a house off campus and use his shower as much as you can. While it’s still probably got empty beer cans instead of bars of soap, at least you know you’re only sharing germs with 5 people instead of 500.
5. Eaten Cafeteria Pizza For Every Meal Of First Year
Cafeteria food was gross, but they couldn’t screw up pizza, right? No one can screw up pizza. Sure, it was a little greasier than the good stuff, but it still looked, smelled, and tasted like pizza, and no one likes pizza more than first year university students.
At the time, you knew it was kind of bad for you, but you were young and healthy and just really didn’t care. You figured you could work it off at the gym later.
But now, you’re a few years older and a few pounds heavier. You’re trying to fix your diet, and you can’t even handle the smell of pizza, let alone the taste. You’re reading up on heart disease and realizing that yup, you have all the risk factors. And you’re wondering what exactly they put in that pizza to make it taste so good back in the day. Hmm. Maybe, just maybe, you could have handled stuffing down a plate of veggies every once in a while.
4. Dropped Out
High school was easy enough, but then you went to college and you just weren’t feeling it, man. You took some major that sounded like it had a good career at the end of it, but two semesters in and you could barely be bothered to do the work. So you decided to see the world instead. You dropped out, bought a plane ticket to Amsterdam, and spent six months studying at the school of life instead. You dropped acid in hostels, saw the cathedrals in Paris, and met loads of beautiful boys and girls.
But then you ran out of money and had to go home. All your friends are getting high-paid office jobs in major metropolitan cities and now you’re stuck working as a mechanic for your uncle’s shop back in your hometown. Or, you can spend a huge wad of money (which you don’t actually have) to go back and study with a bunch of random kids who are all a decade younger than you. And even if you go, you know you’ll have no social life to speak of because all the frat boys will see you as that weird older dude, and you know they wouldn’t appreciate hearing about your “life experiences.”
3. Gotten That Little Extra Excitement…
You were having a great night beer bonging in Jack’s room, so you went downstairs to the girls’ floor and got them to come up and join you in your wild Friday night fun. And it just kept getting better—Tina was looking real hot in that outfit, and the next thing you knew, you were making out with her and now you’re awake in her room and pretty sure you got lucky last night…
But wait, there’s a catch. Your junk just doesn’t…feel right. It’s all itchy and gross and now you’re worried that Tina had something that she didn’t tell you about. And what are you supposed to do about it? To be honest, you guys had never even shared a word before last night, and you don’t really want to go back there now that you’ve done the deed.
2. Lived There
The rent was cheap, they said. It’s really close to the school, they said. It’ll be fine, they said.
You never thought of yourself as a particularly anal-retentive person; you let little messes pile up. Your room in high school was a bit of a disaster. But this place, this place was something else. First, it was a couple dirty dishes, then it was the beer bottles from last weekend…and suddenly, you found yourself in a roach-infested, mice-infested crack den with more room allocated for liquor bottles than for the people who actually paid rent on the sh*thole. Maybe even as you milled through the mess to get to the Chinese takeout in the refrigerator, pushing aside 40s and pizza boxes, you still thought the place had a little “charm.”
But now you’re older, and you know you should have known better. It was just that there was a little voice in your head insisting that you wanted to be the life of the party and that you wanted to live in the most popular house on campus. But that voice was wrong; horribly, utterly wrong. Never. Again.
1. Partied Too Hard
When you were in school, you were young and dumb and down for anything. Every Saturday night, there you were with a mickey in your hand or down at the club getting handed a tab of god-knows-what. You don’t even care what was in it. You were here to party, man! Then you were hanging out with your rez buddy on a lazy Saturday afternoon and he found out you’ve never tripped out so he was like, “Let’s have a totally psychedelic weekend.” And you went along with it because…hey, why not?
But now it’s ten years down the road, you have problems getting your serotonin levels back above suicide levels, everyone at work has to whisper “AA” whenever you leave the room, and you’re having acid flashbacks in the middle of a stockholder meeting on Wednesday morning. In retrospect, maybe you realize that those few hours of weekend fun weren’t really worth ruining your entire life for. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but maybe you should have taken it easy once in while.
Oh, well. Hope you don’t regret anything.
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