In many ways, graduation is akin to death. It’s the death of having all your best friends living five minutes away, the death of your youthful naïveté, the death of living on your own schedule and potentially the psychical death of your liver.

Inspired by this article from the Guardian which gave us inspiring life advice from the dying, we asked 100 recent graduates that have been hurled overboard into the achingly mundane ‘real world’ about their biggest regrets of university, so that you don’t make the same mistakes. 

Here's what they said:

1. I wish I had done more with my freedom

uni regrets make the most of your time how to

“This was such a common regret. When you realise how much time working takes up, you begin to reflect on the amount of possibilities that were in front of you as a student. A lot expressed deep regret that they didn’t experience the places around their university city. It’s all too easy to let the I can do it any time mentality take over, until you graduate and move away and it’s too late. You could hire a canal boat, take the train to another city for the day, or borrow a bike and cycle into the countryside. Do something different.”

2. I wish I had committed to something

how students at university can make the most of their time and not regret

“This was a surprising one. A lot of graduates said they regretted spreading themselves too thin and not truly excelling at anything. There’s a lot to balance at university but those that expressed the most contentment (and were the most employable) decided their what they wanted out of uni early on – whether that be joining a society they loved, getting really into their work or making the most of being so close to their best friends - and threw themselves wholeheartedly into it. Although it’s good to try new things, time goes by all too quickly and a lot of graduates left feeling unfulfilled due to their own indecision and inability to commit.”

3. I wish I had been less worried about my grades

making the most of university and your time advice from graduates

“This regret was more common amongst arts students, especially in their final year. Many said they would get bogged down with memorising content and thought they were too focused on grades that seem quite subjective in hindsight. They wish they had engaged more with the parts that interested them the most instead, and not disregarded the thought-provoking value of lectures in favour of grades. University is possibly the only opportunity you will get to become an expert in something so specific, whilst being guided by academics who have dedicated their whole lives to the subject. That is a truly special experience that will be useful in ways you can’t imagine, but one that often only seems to be appreciated with hindsight. The experience is much more valuable than your final grade.”

4. I wish I had taken more time out

students relaxing how to have a great time at university advice from graduates

“This was expressed to me in so many forms, most often by those who had turned down a year abroad or a gap year before studying. A lot of graduates also regretted being so caught up in the pressure to get a job and wish they had taken time for themselves, to go traveling or just to think things through. The monotony of the workplace can make you yearn for new experiences, which was difficult for those who had started their careers at 21 or 22.”

5. I wish I’d spent more time on relationships that mattered

graduates give advice to undergrads on making the best uni or university experience ever

“This was a huge one. The unique experience of being thrown into an environment without knowing anybody is daunting and sometimes it’s easy to gravitate towards big personalities, but they are unlikely to be your best friends. Graduates said that they wished they had wasted less time trying to impress people at the beginning, because it took away precious time spent with true friends. There is no high-school hierarchy at university, so make time for those who matter.”

What do you wish you could change about uni? Let us know on twitter @StudenthutUK or leave a comment below.

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