Hindsight is always 20/20, but who cares?

By Kate MacDonald


As I sit here trying to think of some pearls of wisdom to share with my peers who still have a few years left here at UMass, I can’t help but remember some of my funniest and most embarrassing memories here at the Zoo. And, as any graduate will tell you, there are a few missed opportunities that spring to mind.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but UMass was my absolute last choice among the colleges I applied to. It took some convincing from my parents, grandparents, alumna aunt and older brother to realize that, in the end, my degree would look the same as any private school degree, but with a much smaller price tag. It was undoubtedly the best choice I’ve ever made and I’ve had a pretty great experience – of course, if I could, there are a few things I’d change.

Studying abroad was always something I’d wanted to do, but never found the time for. Experiencing a new culture, meeting new friends and taking classes that I would have never been exposed to would have been unique opportunities, and seeing world-famous sites and possibly learning a new language are laudable pursuits for any college student.

So, take advantage of every opportunity on campus; check out Taste of UMass; investigate all the different foods each DC has to offer; take a class that’s outside of your comfort level or campus; join a club.

While you’re at it, take my completely unbiased advice and check out the Collegian. I didn’t join until the fall of my junior year, which is something I regret. The lessons learned at this independent publication are some of the most important I’ve learned in my life. Writing for the Collegian will teach you, among other things, to have a thick skin – everyone’s a critic – meet deadlines, expand your friend group and learn some cooperative skills.

RSOs, as well, not only  open new doors but also look good on resumes. In my case, I came to UMass with every intention of working hard and heading to law school. After becoming a staff writer and the blog editor, I am leaving with a job as the newest arts writer for a large regional newspaper.

Oh, and don’t write off potential friends for any reason. A few of my closest friends here are people I went to high school with but didn’t know that well, and a few more are people from different states, cities and countries. Expand your friend group, but don’t leave old ones in the dust either.

Now  the most important lesson: do well in school, but don’t let other things suffer because of it and vice-versa.

I was told by a friend on the first nice day after the harsh winters we’re accustomed to here that I should skip a kinesiology quiz because, “You’ll always remember hanging out with your friends, and you’ll never remember the info from that class.” While that was true, and I do have great memories from that day, the consequences affected my GPA. Eh, not the end of the world.

Along the same line, take a mental health day once in a while. Here’s a little-known fact: it may not be completely necessary to go to every scheduled class. Sometimes, watching a USA marathon of “Law and Order: SVU” while lounging in bed, eating Oreos might be more important than another lecture about the philosophy of dead guys.

Everyone has regrets at the end of college, but those are what make the best stories. No one cares about how great you did on that one Greek Civilization test because you read “The Iliad” over the summer. But people will get a kick out of hearing about how you and two of your roommates narrowly avoided the cops by hiding in an undisclosed bathroom after a raging party – just to offer an innocent, hypothetical scenario.

It’s easy to let these four years slip by. It’s even easier to look back and spend a significant amount of time thinking about things you could’ve changed. Regrets aren’t worth it. It’s better to think about the hilarious memories you’ve made and spend time with the people you’ve made them with.

Kate MacDonald was the Collegian’s blog editor. She can be reached at [email protected].