I believe in regrets. I enjoy revisiting my own personal history on occasion and asking myself what ifs. Here are a few things I would change if I could go back to college and do it all over again:
- I would take a year off before college. It never occurred to me that this was an option. I was not as physically or socially mature as my peers and that year away would have helped me catch up a bit. Equally as important, it would have made me a better student and person by exposing me to more “real life” before college. I favor a year or two of post-high school national service for all teenagers. I know how much it would have benefited me and I think it would be good for the country.
- Sometimes I wish I had gone to a smaller school with more of an undergraduate focus. But Stanford is a great school and I can’t say I regret going there.
- I would join the newspaper staff. I did go to an orientation meeting or two but it didn’t grab me. I wish it had. The newspaper would have been a great way to get involved in the campus community.
- I would go to San Francisco more often.
- I would visit my friends at other colleges more than I did.
- Less daydreaming in the library and more studying.
Certainly there are also some smaller things I would do differently. For instance, I would focus more on girl X instead of girl Y. I would never take class Z. But the above are the big things.
One sunny California day toward the end of my senior year, my friends Manny, Mike and I were out in the park behind the dorm. It was 2pm on a Tuesday or something like that. Most of the rest of the country was toiling away in its workaday existence. Manny had set up his stereo on his windowsill and The Doors shared their mellow with us as we threw a football back and forth. We were about to graduate, about to leave our sheltered lives at Stanford and step out into the real world — but for that moment in time we luxuriated in our charmed lives. I remember thinking at the time, “Man, college is great.” And it was.