Do college students have regrets they would like to address and overcome?
Indeed they do.
Mary’s biggest regret is that she did not attend college right after high school. Instead, she chose to work. Her parents never pushed her educationally; they simply assumed that she was doing her best. That was not enough. She got a decent job at 19 that allowed her to make more money than the typical 19-year-old does. However, when she turned 22, she realized it would never be enough for her to live independently. “I was shaken by this realization and decided I wanted to further my education. I enrolled in a community college. I decided to work part-time and become a full time student. I made school a priority.” Mary has found that she loves to learn and is good at it, with the exception of math in which she hasn’t fared well. She plans on attending San Jose State in the Fall of 2013 and is planning to major in hospitality. “This training will help me get the salary and the promotions I deserve. I have worked in the hospitality industry for 7 years now and without a higher education, I am afraid I will never be able to move up the economic ladder.”
David’s biggest regret is that he delayed completing his education. “I have taken such a long break between my general education and my higher education that I find it most difficult to get back into the rhythm of school life. Life catches up quick when you are not looking. I am now forced to work full time to take care of my family and me.” David is supporting his family with two jobs but is struggling with his class load. He is determined to see through his studies, though, no matter how challenging that may be.
George regrets not taking his education seriously in high school. “I took my high school years as a joke because no one explained to me how important it was to do well in high school. What I take heart from is that I have learned from my mistakes. This is my first semester at college and I am working hard. The past is past and I am glad I learned some tough lessons. I thought hanging around with friends was more important than studies. Now I find education the most important thing in life to get ahead.”
Tony’s biggest regret is quitting child league sports. “I became fat and out of shape and began to lose focus on education. After I quit sports, I become more of a hooligan, staying out late after school, coming home after midnight, and engaging in various illegal activities.” From the ages of 12 to 16, Tony did things he now wishes he could go back and change. If he didn’t quit playing football, baseball and basketball, he could have possibly earned an athletic and academic scholarship. His GPA could have been much higher. However, Tony is making amends through hard work. He is planning to play football for San Jose City College’s Jaguars. He is working on increasing his current GPA of 3.0. He is not taking any breaks in his studies and is participating in football training so that he can bring a focus to his life and succeed.
Jordan regrets getting hooked on online games at a young age. “I started using computers and playing online games in the 8th grade and that marked the time when my interest for school went downhill. I became so addicted to one particular online game that I would miss school. I never found time for homework.” Jordan continued his habit for several years until he finally recovered from his addiction. He spent almost 7 years playing that single online game “so you can imagine the amount of time I wasted, considering that I would play anywhere from 5-10 hours on a school day, and 10-15 hours per day on long school breaks.” Tony is now focusing on school. He is working hard to make up for the lost years and is determined to redeem himself by being accountable and responsible.
Monique’s regret is similar to George’s and Jordan’s. She did not take high school and her first year at a community college seriously enough. She was more into extra-curricular activities and thought that getting by with “C”s was okay. “Had I taken high school more seriously, I could have gone straight to a 4-year university.” But that’s the past. Monique is now focusing on her studies and plans to transfer to a 4-year university soon.
Julio was a huge procrastinator in High School and careless about everything and everyone. “My selfishness and careless mentality was one of the main reasons of why I didn't graduate from High School. I regret it because I am smart and a good individual and not many people got to see this side of me in school and everyone thought I was a selfish, cocky individual who just cared about being ‘cool’ and selfish and only interested in having a good time.” Julio now recognizes that it was a huge mistake. He has learned from it and is working diligently to develop both study and people skills.
Joelle has similar regrets. “I went through a lot in high school and was naive and had no motivation to do well. I never thought about the future and ignored the fact that I was digging myself a deep hole. I was forced to go to a continuation school, then to independent studies, so I could graduate on time. The last year in high school, I was diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and was prescribed Adderall. “Ever since, it has changed my life and given me the focus to move forward and do the best I can in school.” Joelle now attends all her classes, finishes all her homework, and studies for all her tests. She is determined to qualify for a law school and become a lawyer. “This is my ultimate goal. I know that with patience and persistence, I can succeed.”
Steve’s biggest regret is having been disobedient to his elders. Growing up in Houston, he lived with his strict father. “I never listened to him because I wanted to be young, wild and free. One day I asked my dad if I could I go to this spring-break party. He said no. I knew I had to get to this party no matter what, so I sneaked out the window and went to the party. The party was everything I expected it to be, lots of dancing, everyone having a great time. Nothing, I thought, could go wrong. Suddenly a fight broke out. The next thing I knew, I heard gun shots. I ran for my life and jumped a fence. I then heard two gun shots. When I looked down, I saw that I had been hit twice. The first thing that came to my head was why I didn’t listen to my dad.” Steve is wiser now and shares his hard-earned lesson with friends and younger students.
Doris doesn’t regret anything. “I’m 23-years-old and all the decisions I have made so far were what I thought were right at those points in my life. And even the mistakes I made weren’t really that bad because I learned from them and they helped me become who I am now. I was taught to always follow your instincts and your heart and never hurt people on your way to become whoever you want to be in life. I think that is the main reason why I do not regret anything so far. Life is not perfect, and I know I can make a bad decision, but until that happens, I will make sure I don’t make decisions based on what others do or think. I will try to always remind myself that I have to follow my personal beliefs and what my parents taught me.”
Ray has just started his education at San Jose City College after a long gap. He notices how much younger all the other students are in his classes. He regrets not returning to education sooner. “Although I cannot turn back time, I am happy that I am attending college and making sure that I have a full load so I can graduate that much sooner.”
Minh recalls the old proverb “no pain, no gain” in looking back on her life. No one can be successful without experiencing some failures. Her biggest regret is that she didn’t study seriously when she was in the tenth grade in Vietnam, so she had to repeat the class. She often played truant with two friends, went swimming in the river near her school, and went off to see the newest movies. She failed her class. When informed, her father flew into a rage and hit her but her mother just cried and said nothing. It was her mother’s silence that hurt her more than her father’s beating. Chastened, she set up a meticulous plan of study the following year with her mother’s help and passed the 10th grade at the top of her class. But she didn’t feel proud at all since she took the class twice. Since that lesson, she keeps an eye on her son to see that he does not repeat her mistake and does well at school.
Camille has read that the most common regret among American adults is the loss of romantic opportunity. Ever since she got into high school, she promised herself that she would not get into relationships and let boys cloud what was truly important. She grew up receiving love but not seeing it. As a result, she finds some kind of excuse for any man who comes into her life. Looking back, she wishes that she had handled her opportunities differently. She has resolved to be more open and trusting. She doesn’t want the past to affect her future. Starting fresh and not being afraid to get hurt is easier said than done but she is determined to try out her new attitude.
Christina wishes that she waited until she was a little older to start her family. She wishes she had completed her education first. She has much more patience now (“I'm not sure if it is because of my children or just age”) but thinks she could have done a better job of parenting if she had waited.
Adam regrets that he is not disciplined enough. He is not lazy, just that he has a hard time focusing. Mathematics has always troubled him. It is difficult to solve problems unless they are thoroughly explained. He has had teachers who were amazing but also some who were terrible in every single way. “But I can’t only blame the teachers for my failures. I can’t seem to focus for long periods of time. In intermediate algebra, it took me multiple times to pass the class because I just could not solve the problems. I procrastinate, and when I don’t quite understand the material, there is no way for me to progress. To overcome this, I am writing out detailed schedules for my classes next semester and dedicate time for studying and doing homework. Testing is where all goes wrong. With the dedicated time for testing I’ll be able set time to study and prepare. Distractions are tough to deal with because I always find something more appealing. But I am just going to rid myself of the distractions to focus on my work.”
Kim’s first regret deals with “Time Management.” He took 20 units the previous semester but because of lack of time management skills, he could not add 3 more units, which would have helped him transfer to a 4-year university sooner. “To be specific, I don’t fully use the time during weekends. I failed to wake up at 7 in the morning during weekends, which is the time I wake up during weekdays. I am determined to take 23 units next semester, and I will apply better time management skills to complete these classes successfully. His second regret is not working out regularly. Because of his heavy study load, he gained 5 kilograms. “That’s huge. That’s why I will make sure I have enough time to work out.”
Lauren’s biggest regret is the “wasting time” period of her life. “From about sophomore year in high school to my third year in college (minus my senior year in high school) I went through this awkward phase where I didn’t know what in the world I was going to do with my life. I didn’t know what I wanted to study or anything. I basically just wasted 5-6 years of my life. If I didn’t waste those years, I would have been done or almost done with school by now. I do not dwell on that part of my life, though. I accomplished many other things during that time. I moved out on my own, became fully self-supportive, experienced a lot of life, and ultimately figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So I guess it wasn’t a complete waste.” To make up for lost time, Lauren has decided to take as many units as possible to finish school as quickly as she can. “Now that I know what I want to do, it should be pretty straight forward. The difficult part is explaining to counselors, financial aid officials, and 4-year institutions that I want to transfer to just what happened during that time. It doesn’t look very pretty when it is written on a transcript. I will redeem myself by finishing my degree and always keeping busy in life.”