What I would do differently if I could go back to college

Last week, I had dinner with two of my good friends from college—which was the first time I met up with any of my friends from UC Santa Barbara since I graduated in June (besides hanging out with my one friend who also lives in Davis now). One of them asked us if there was anything we would do differently if we could go back to undergrad. For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in SB, and most of the mistakes I made turned out for the better, because (as cliche as it sounds) they helped make me who I am today. But in retrospect, there are a few things I wish could advise 18-21 year old Chloe about, and would extend this advice to anyone new to college too. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned during my few months of post-grad life, it’s that you only get to experience that part of your life once, and it can suck living the regret of knowing you could have gotten more out of that special time.

  • Branch out and join more clubs, especially starting in freshman year, or actually stick with the clubs you check out. This was probably my biggest mistake (as I wrote about in my post with advice to my 18 year old self).

  • Make use of the unique resources your school has to offer. I’ve wanted to get scuba certified for a few years and went to one class in a series offered by my school’s recreational center, but gave up after I didn’t pass the swimming test on the first try. I regret not going through with the classes or going surfing at least once, especially since I so fortunate to go to a school that was literally on the beach.
  • Put yourself outside of your comfort zone as much as possible.

  • Live as close to campus as possible. It’s a drag having to take the bus to class and either having to stay on campus all day or go back and forth and take up hours of your time.

  • Don’t just choose your acquaintances you met on your dorm floor to be your roommates for the next school year—chances are you won’t even be friends by the end of winter quarter.

  • Stop worrying about getting a boyfriend—love will find its way to you eventually. When you’re focusing on becoming the best version of yourself, people will notice and be attracted to your positivity and ambition. As soon as I stopped looking for a boyfriend and worked on figuring out who I was as an individual, that’s when I seemed to get asked out the most, and in a few months I met the guy who I would date for the next two years (and counting).

  • What you want at 18 will be completely different at 22 (and at 26, and 30, probably). When I was planning to marry my boyfriend in freshman year (I know, what was I thinking) I read this in an article and I couldn’t imagine wanting anything else. This piece of advice made more and more sense every year throughout college as I noticed myself changing as a person, and is still changing to this day. It’s hard not to, but you should try to focus on enjoying the good things you have in the present instead of constantly worrying about the future, because you’ll never enjoy yourself that way, and you’ll be disappointed when the future comes and it isn’t everything you expected.

  • Take advantage of every free event possible—and standing in line for a couple hours is worth the memories you’ll have forever of the concert you went to by waiting for those tickets. I missed out on some cool free events in my freshman year because I lived in the farthest dorm from campus and didn’t bother to go out very often.

  • Get over your lazy tendencies and go out with your friends. I barely drank at all until I actually turned 21, and even then, I hardly went out to parties or the clubs with my friends. Although I enjoyed my nights in my warm bed at night when the idea of a night of taking too many shots and vomiting outside after dancing in a room full of sweaty strangers didn’t sound appealing, the individual nights of binge-watching my favorite shows don’t stand out as clearly in my mind as the ones when I actually went out with my friends. I didn’t enjoy getting my toes stepped on by sloppy drunk girls’ stilettos on the bus home at 2am, but I do remember having fun dancing to Taylor Swift’s “22” on my birthday and the time my friend and I saw our 40-something year old Spanish professor at Tonic Nightclub.
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