This post is inspired by the Macleans article “The Many Regrets of a Fourth Year Student”! I’m just starting fourth year, so these are my regrets as a third year, aka advice that I would tell my younger self who was just starting university.
I regret: Letting stress and expectations get the best of me.
I would say that I am a person who easily gets stressed and that often prohibits me from enjoying life. It’s important to try to find ways to unwind and relax (exercise, creativity, drinking herbal tea, etc). Make sure that you have ways of reminding yourself that there is no need to be so worried about the small things; grades and assignments are important but not to the point that they make you miserable. It will all work out.
I regret: Worrying that I don’t belong or am not smart enough to participate.
Imposter syndrome is something a lot of students experience, myself included. I found myself too scared to voice my opinion in lectures or ask the professor a question because I didn’t have confidence in myself. Your opinion is just as valuable as everyone else’s, and it’s likely that no one is entirely certain of their answer either. It’s okay not to be the smartest person in the room, your university experience is meant to be beneficial to you.
I regret: Not investing more time in friendships.
I am guilty of being that person who isn’t willing to meet up because I “have five essays to write.” The five essays part is true, but social life is just as important as studying. Friendship is one of the best parts of university, you find people you really click with. I really wish I allowed myself to have more fun with those friends. This year, even if it may be through a screen, it’s important to stay in touch with people!
I regret: Taking networking opportunities for granted.
This goes hand-in-hand with my second regret. At university you have the chance to meet with professors who are the leading researchers in their discipline. You have the ability to go to their offices and just speak with them! Now that I’m searching for references for grad school applications I’m asking myself, why didn’t I ever visit that professor in office hours? It’s such an easy thing to do, especially if they’re teaching a subject you’re interested in.
I’ve learned a lot from reflecting on the things I regret, but at the end of the day, we can only go forward. Learn from your regrets, but don’t let them weigh you down!