Don’t put yourself in a box and 5 things I wish I did in college

Outfit details
Everlane sweater, Evidnt Jeans (similar version from Target x Who What Wear), Loeffler Randall boots, and Clare V. bag.

To be honest, I have some regrets about my college experience.

I can’t help but feel like there was more that I could have gotten out of those four years. I was so focused on doing all my assignments and getting good grades that I never thought about what I wanted out of the experience, for myself.

I’ll never forget that train ride after my class trip when my professor asked me if I considered majoring in Journalism. I didn’t. It never even crossed my mind. I loved her class but I never thought writing was something I could do professionally. I didn’t even let the thought marinate in my mind because doing something so creative scared me. There were no ground rules and I like to play it safe, so I stuck with psychology instead.

Why psychology?

I was always curious about people’s stories. Why do people behave the way they do? And how do their experiences shape them?

It was also something my parents respected. They understood it as me wanting to be a “feelings doctor” (direct translation from Chinese to English). They figured I would easily find a job after school and I would be helping people. Double win. And so I put myself in that box and restricted myself for over six years.

Let me explain.

During the Fall semester of my Senior year, I had my eyes set on a PhD program. I wanted to study Clinical Psychology, get my doctorate, and become a therapist. I studied for the GRE, took the dreadful 4 hr exam, and applied for the Clinical Psych program.

I didn’t get in. I panicked. What am I supposed to do after graduation? I need more school. It’s the only way.

Instead of taking a moment to pause and consider my options, I frantically applied for the Master’s program at my school instead. I got in, took out some loans, and signed myself up for two more years of school.

I couldn’t see beyond the four walls of that box I put myself in.

Here are 5 things I wish I could have done instead.

1. Consider a minor or double major.

College is the time for both learning and self-discovery. Who knows maybe a minor in Writing would have led to an internship at one of my favorite magazines, Teen Vogue. And who knows where that could have gotten me today? If you’re in college now, consider more than just your major. You never know what it might spark for you.

2. Diversify my internships.

I didn’t bother applying for the internships I wanted because I figured it didn’t make sense. If I wanted to intern at a magazine, my major should reflect that. Right? Nope. You can make a case for why you want to intern somewhere. I never tried so I never got to prove myself wrong. No one will judge you for wanting to learn more, but you will judge yourself later for not even trying (or at least that’s what I’m doing now).

3. Get a hobby.

Imagine if I gave myself the time to take photos or write creatively. I might have had a blog back then. And that might have become something more. The point is to give yourself the time do the things you enjoy because you never know where it might take you.

4. Learn something new.

I really enjoy learning new languages and in college I could put a few sentences together in italiano. I even honed my speaking skills when I studied abroad in Florence for a month before my Senior year. The class ended and so did my learning. But why did it have to? The point is, keep going. If you like what you’re learning, keep it up.

5. Build up my resumé post college.

Want to start working immediately after college? Go for it.  A genuine and sincerely written email may be the key to getting you through the door. (Might talk more about this in a future post). Experience is earned over time. No one expects you to have ten years of experience right out of college. That’s what I wish I could have told myself.

If college is a distant memory for you like it is for me, what’s one piece of advice you would give yourself?

Sophie 🙂

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