7 Things I Wish I Could Tell My College Self

It’s too late for Jason Henry, but perhaps you can learn from his college mistakes.

For what it’s worth, college was OK. I got through the program well enough. All in all, I’d say the experience was satisfactory. That sucks, because while I got decent grades, the experience itself was a C. Here’s what I would have told myself on how to deal with the phenomenon that is university.

1. The hatred for this school is due to your social anxiety. It is not that the school is horrible, or that registration is a bitch or even that the course codes are confusing. You have an irrational fear that you are going to trip and fall on your face in front of people you don’t know and be laughed to scorn. When the lecturer asks a question and you give an answer, you think you’re going to be wrong and be sent back to grade school. Your anxiety is based on your environment, and thanks to your psychology degree, you will learn that fear is often irrational.

2. Party now, study later. This sounds pretty irresponsible, but it really isn’t. You need to cherish this time of reckless abandon. Push boundaries, do something weird and different, have fun! You’re a fragile kid though, so know your limits. Mom and Pop always said to never cram but it works pretty well, trust me. It might not be for everyone, but you’re built for it. Besides, you’re supposed to learn material from five courses in 4.5 months. The school is cramming you, so cram it right back! If you don’t like this bit of advice, you can try the converse method: study now, party barely, or never. Because when you’re done studying and ready to play, everyone else will ignore you because they’re studying.

3. No girlfriend, no problem. The intermittent, short-lived and ultimately time wasting flings will mean nothing to you. Your friends, however, will talk about it for years to come. Can’t give an explanation for that, sorry. You might not like how this sounds, but you’ll never get into a relationship when in college. And even if you did, it’d be a complete disaster. This, however, is a good thing. You will learn how to be happy regardless of whether or not you have what you want. I could have really used the head start for that second reason.

4. Do what you like. Many people will question your choice of degree. Just tell them that you’re doing what you want to do. People are going to university to do a degree that will make them a certain amount of money. You’re stupid, so you’ll just do what makes you happy. Let that be enough. Rest assured, you will be employed when you graduate. Oh, and while you do have a passion for what you’re learning, the school will try and rip that to shreds by stuffing a colossal amount of information into your mouth and up to your brain. Just walk it off, OK?

5. Smoke. I’m not talking about cigarettes, man. We’re not about polluting our body to fund the corporations. I’m talking about weed! Look, I know what they told you but it’s not a drug. It’s just a plant, bro. Don’t miss out like I did! *

6. Friends are the most important aspect. I know the parents are not sending you to school to socialize, but it makes the price tag worth it (Ha! No, not really). For when those soul-crushing nights come, when scholastic and extra-curricular problems abound, and when the bass drops, friends calm the bad moments down and make the good moments extra-special. They will continue to be the best thing in your life after graduation. Do not take them for granted.

7. A bit of specific advice. If you are walking by the administrative building and see a calculator in the dirt, do not take it up, turn it on to see if it works and then stuff it in your backpack because you were too cheap to buy a new calculator. There is a reason the calculator was left forlorn, and you will thank me when you are doing your statistics exam and realize that the square root of 640 is not 2.


* Not legally available in all locations.

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Image credit: Tulane Public Relations/Flickr

About Jason Henry

Jason Henry is a young person who earnestly seeks the path which leads him to say, "TGIM: Thank God it's Monday." Feel obliged to contact him @alchemisjah and buy his book on emotional healing here


  1. “Rest assured, you will be employed when you graduate.”


    “I’m talking about weed! Look, I know what they told you but it’s not a drug. It’s just a plant, bro. Don’t miss out like I did!”

    I have never felt a need to use illegal drugs (or alcohol), and I have never regretted not using them in college.

  2. #2. I agree. I didn’t do any partying in college. I knew if I ever did anything wrong my parents would probably stop paying for my housing. I didn’t drink, go to clubs/bars, never went to a strip club with my friends because I was so afraid something would go wrong and I’d get in trouble. I missed out on a lot of college fun because of this and I regret it more than anything.

    #4. disagree. Find a major that will get you a job after you graduate otherwise why bother? I did what I loved and struggled for years. It was only after getting some training in something that I looked at as a career did I ever get my life off the ground. College was a wasted opportunity to get a degree in something useful. This quote here is particularly troubling, “Rest assured, you will be employed when you graduate.” I don’t think anything could be further from the truth.

    #5 disagree. I saw weed take down a lot of good people during college. They became obsessed with it. I could say the same thing about alcohol, and for better or worse it’s legal and weed is not. However I never saw people get obsessed with alcohol the same way they did with weed. Understand I’m someone who believes weed should be legal. I don’t have a moral issue with it. It also might seem that it goes against what I said about #2, but I certainly don’t regret that one bit.

  3. It should be hash wednesday on your campus today. If it isn’t, you’re at the wrong school.

  4. I know more people who regret working too hard than too little. You don’t need to ace your class, top 20-30% is good enough.

    This may be biased by the fact that you need a PhD to do my job. Maybe I’m not meeting the people who regret failing, because I don’t know them…

  5. wellokaythen says:

    Ask yourself if you have good reasons to be in college. Don’t go to college just because you think everyone else your age is going to college. Don’t go if you’re not ready and willing to be there. Don’t go if you’re not able to commit to it. Take a beak if you need to. Don’t worry about “momentum” or being a “dropout.” At least a third of the college population is “nontraditional students,” and they are often more successful. Don’t assume you have to be in college because you’re the age of 18-22.

  6. I wish I used that independent and critical thinking and applied it more to my private life….

    I wish I had told off my college pre-professional advisor when he got fresh with me ( and then reported him to the powers that be)….

  7. I wish I had followed my heart in college. I haven’t used my degree in my job and I could have followed my heart ie gotten a history degree…


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