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By David Replogle
Everyone’s college experience is different. We come from places far and near; we run in different social circles; we pursue different activities and classes and majors. No one college student can be at two, three, four places at once -- not every sporting event or party or meeting or cookout. We just try to make the most of these four years and hope/wish/pray that they don’t fly by too fast.
But wouldn’t it be nice to hear what college grads have to say about their experiences? Their regrets, their proudest moments and their sage advice? We took a look back with four recent graduates:
JAIME JACKSON GILES
The 2003 Roanoke University alum recently received her master’s in education from Shenandoah University.
Biggest regret: “I wish I’d played sports.”
Giles was heavily involved in Greek life and the student-activities organization at Roanoke. “Yet I still wish I had pursued more, joined more clubs,” she says. “I played softball growing up as a kid, and I didn’t even try out for the club team when I got to college.” Giles also wishes she’d attended more sporting events. “You take a lot of the sports for granted while you’re there and then regret not going to watch more of your fellow students in action.”
Proudest accomplishment: “I let go of my fears.”
“I’ll always remember speaking at graduation,” says Giles. “It was an honor.” Of course, she’s also proud of her master’s degree. “I think it represents how hard I’ve worked since graduating from Roanoke.”
Best advice: “Go to class!”
“Even if no one’s forcing you to, you’ve got to discipline yourself to go,” says Giles. Nevertheless, she stresses the importance of balancing work and play: “Instead of all that reading, go to a party instead because you’ll regret not going later.”
After graduating from the University of Virginia in spring 2010, Amos is taking time off before law school.
Biggest regret: “I put things off.”
Typical traditions at UVA include streaking the famed lawn and touring Monticello, the home of founder Thomas Jefferson. “I spent too much time pushing all of those things off into an ‘I’ll do it later’ category,” says Amos. Clearly, he can still pursue those things (hopefully not the streaking) ... but not as a student.
Proudest accomplishment: “I took some risks.”
Amos is most proud of getting accepted to UVA’s McIntire Commerce School (currently ranked second among undergraduate business schools), as well as running for the Commerce School presidency -- even though he lost by a measly three votes. “I’m obviously not happy I lost, but I was proud of being part of the UVA student government process.”
Best advice: “Have fun!”
Enjoy the college experience while you can, says Amos: “Grades will matter for the next three years. Memories will be with you for the rest of your life.” And to all of you new UVA Cavaliers reading this, he offers a few more words of wisdom: “Hate Virginia Tech with a passion.” Kidding, of course ... but not really.
The 2008 Appalachian State grad is currently working but has dreams of becoming a missionary.
Biggest regret: “I wasted time not pursuing my passion.”
“I ended up taking part in a lot of activities during my time at App,” says Vachon. “I tried to take advantage of every day and make it exciting.” But she wishes she’d spent more time during her first years on campus doing what she wanted to do. “I pledged a sorority but then deactivated because I realized it just wasn’t for me. Then, in my last couple of years, I became really involved in the campus ministry -- and loved every second of it, meeting some of my best friends.”
Proudest accomplishment: “I learned to effectively multitask.”
Balancing her various extracurriculars, keeping up a high GPA and earning her degree by double-majoring in public relations and business was quite a feat for Vachon. “I feel like I had a well-rounded, rich college experience,” she says. “I’m very proud of what I achieved -- and want to use what I learned to do bigger and better things in the future.”
Best advice: “Soak up every minute of it.”
“Enjoy every new day you have! Count each one as a blessing, and try to live life to the fullest,” Vachon says. “Meet new people, take cool classes, get involved, but also take time for yourself once in a while.”
The 2010 University of Virginia grad is taking time off before medical school.
Biggest regret: “I did way too much.”
While many students advise making the most of your time in college, Miller might have been too involved. He was a member of a fraternity, competed as a top player on the club tennis team, conducted countless hours as a research assistant, volunteered at UVA Hospital -- often late at night and on weekends. “I wish I had just focused more on the moment, on being a student,” says Miller. “It’s important not to spread yourself too thin. There are so many hassles to deal with after college that you shouldn’t be worrying about them while you’re there.”
Proudest accomplishment: “I got into med school.”
“I’m thrilled I was accepted,” says Miller. “It’s tangible proof of all the hard work I put in during my time at UVA.”
Best advice: “Do what makes you happy.”
Says Miller: “That’s the biggest piece of advice I can offer -- and probably the most useful you will hear.”
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Recent Grads Reveal Their College Regrets