8 Mistakes I Made as a Student

8 Mistakes I Made as a Student

November 25, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


– About a week ago, I came across a video of my friend, Kevin’s
channel, Med School Insiders called seven Regrets of My 20s and watching his video got me thinking about some of my own regrets and mistakes, specifically from my college career, because by no means did I
have a perfect college career. By and large, I’m happy
with how things turned out and I didn’t make any huge mistakes, but there are definitely some things, that I would have done differently, if I were magically time warped
back to my freshman year. Now while that is unlikely to happen as I haven’t angered any wizards lately, I still think that
detailing these mistakes and going through what I
would have done differently will be useful for other people, who might be finding themselves in a similar situation in the near future including possibly you, that’s because one of my
most important beliefs is that you can learn just as much from the failures of others
as you can from your own, as long as you can quell that
little voice in your head, that says, yeah, but that
won’t happen to me, right, then you can start to use
the experiences of others to prepare yourself for
potential situations in your own life. So today I’m gonna be
sharing eight stupid mistakes that I made in college and the lessons that each
one of them taught me. First up on my list was the mistake I made in both my freshman and my sophomore year, which was starting up the
semester way too gung ho, thinking I could do literally every single reading assignment, every single piece of homework, everything and then fizzling out
after just a few weeks. I’m not gonna lie, I came into college as a very ambitious student,
as is befitting somebody who would make an entire
website on academic success and I wanted to do really
well in my classes, I wanted to ace every single
test and do all the reading. So when I started my
semesters, I told myself, I’m going to read every
single reading assignment and I’m gonna take notes on
every single thing that I read, but as you can probably guess, that didn’t last for very long and there’s a big difference
between say my first week and my ass. class notes,
which I’ll show right here and well, the marked lack
of any notes beyond that. Now I have to say that I did get lucky, because a lot of the
classes that I went to had a lot of overlap between
what was presented in class and what was in the actual
reading assignments and homework, but if I had been in classes, where a lot of crucial information
was locked in a textbook, then that burnout that I experienced a few weeks into the semester
could have really hurt me. Mistake number two, which is a bubbly, fizzy and caffeinated mistake, all throughout college until
probably my senior year, I was absolutely addicted to energy drinks and I like to tell myself that this wasn’t because
of the caffeine content, it probably was, caffeine is a surprisingly
addictive substance, but I was also addicted to energy drinks, because they provided what
the author, Taylor Clark calls in his book, Starbucked,
“beverage entertainment,” they were something that
made a study session just a little bit less boring, because I knew I’d got that colorful can of fizzy, sugary liquid next to me, while I went through my math assignments. So lesson here, for those of you, who haven’t already gotten
addicted to energy drinks is don’t let it happen,
because it can very well happen both for those beverage
entertainment reasons and for the caffeine reasons. You don’t need nearly as much caffeine as you think you might, as long as you are maintaining
a good sleep schedule and if you do want to use caffeine or you enjoy drinks that have it, maybe stick to coffee or tea instead, they’re a lot healthier and if
you aren’t going to Starbucks and buying $4 lattes, they
are a lot cheaper as well. So the next mistake I’m gonna list here is jumping the gun, when it
came to selecting an internship. So this goes back to my
sophomore year of college, I spent the summer before that year and the very beginning of that year going as hard as I could to
try to get an internship, I went to every single networking session, that I could learn about, I
went to all the career fairs, I went to all the pre-career fairs and the pre-, pre-career fair breakfasts, I met recruiters from dozens
of different companies, I handed out tons of different resumes and all of this work definitely paid off. After the career fair season, after all that kind of died down, I was presented with no less
than seven interview offers at seven different companies and I was pretty stoked about these, but I didn’t end up going to any of them, because before even my first
interview was scheduled, I got a call from one company that said, “Hey Thomas, we really liked your resume, “we really liked talking
with you at the career fair, “we think that we don’t
even need to interview you, “we would like to offer you
an internship sight unseen, “because we think you’re
a great candidate,” and I was ecstatic, when I got this call and because I was ecstatic
and because I was so stoked, that they had offered me an internship, I’d never been offered
an internship before, I took it right away. Now I don’t wanna say that this decision led me down the wrong path,
because I’m very grateful for the experiences I
got at that internship, but as a result of taking it right away, I canceled all seven of those
other interview requests, I didn’t even give them the chance to see if they were gonna be a better opportunity than that first one and I remember later during that summer talking with other people, who were my classmates and friends and asking them what their
internship experiences were like and some of them actually
ended up getting internships, that paid a lot more than mine did. So I think the lesson here
is don’t jump the gun, if you get a job offer, you’re gonna think that this is the only one
that’s gonna come to you, you’re gonna think that if
you let this opportunity slip through your fingers, you’re making a horrible decision, but it is totally okay to say thank you so much for the opportunity, can I take a few days to think about it? From there, you can start
to analyze your options and since I did this internship and then I went and
started my own business and haven’t worked a
full-time job since then, I don’t have the personal experience to tell you about how
to do this correctly, but I did come across an
excellent answer on Reddit about this exact same question, so I’m gonna link to that in
the description down below and I highly recommend you give it a read, in case you find yourself in
this situation in the future. Alright, mistake number four on my list is dropping my very
first programming class. So this goes back to my very
first semester of college, freshman year, I ended up taking the engineering level
Java programming class and this was because even
though I was a business student, weirdly the business
Java programming class, even though it was easier
than the engineering level one had a prerequisite that I
wasn’t going to be able to take, until my second semester, whereas that engineering
one had no prerequisites and I was like I wanna
start learning Java, I wanna start programming, this was what I came to college for, so I started that class and immediately I found it
really, really difficult, the labs were difficult,
the homework was difficult and I even found it difficult to follow the lecture material, while
I was sitting in class. So, and it pains me to admit this, after about a couple of weeks,
I actually dropped that class and just resigned myself to taking the business
level Java class instead and this mistake is really an echo of a mistake I made back in high school, where I didn’t get a very good
grade in my calculus class, because I shied away
from the tough problems, the moment a problem
presented itself to me and I thought I can’t do that, I don’t even know where to begin, I would disengage, I
would basically give up and as I learned in the intervening years, this is not how you become
a better problem solver, you can’t just disengage
the moment a problem seems like it’s too tough to solve, if you focus on it, you’re eventually going to find the answer and if you can’t do it on your
own, you can ask for help, I didn’t do this, which meant
that I wasted a bunch of time during my freshman year,
’cause I dropped that class and wasted all the hours I had put into it prior to the day I dropped it, but it also meant that I ended
up going to a Java class, that was frankly too easy for me, I could have done the
engineering level Java class, if I had really buckled down and focused on the problems, but I didn’t. So if you find yourself in a class, that you feel is just too
hard, make sure that you are actually working to
solve those problems, ask yourself, have I
really put in the time? Have I really focused? Or did I just disengage and
tell myself that’s too hard? Alright, failure number five here, kind of related to number four, I failed to take advantage
of professor office hours for a lot of my college career. When I got into my junior and senior year, I started to get smart
and I started to use them a lot more often, but
freshman and sophomore year, I hardly ever went to
professor office hours and what’s worse, I remember
professors actually offering completely free review sessions,
you know, after a class, when people could just come and ask whatever questions they
wanted in review for tests and I skipped these too,
these are goldmines, I remember going to a couple of these during my, again junior and senior year and using them to get
really good grades on tests, because teachers would essentially answer questions straight
from the study guides. I skipped these in my first
couple of years in college and I skipped professor office hours, which meant that again, when
I got stuck on tough problems, I wasn’t utilizing the resources
that I had available to me, I was just disengaging and
telling myself, I can’t do that. So if you’re in college, or
even if you’re in high school, use the help you have available to you, professors are there to help you, not just by lecturing to you
at the front of the classroom, but by working one on
one with you as well. Alright, mistake number six and this is I think the most emotional
one on the list here, I titled it in my list, Seeking Companionship in the Wrong Places. So to put a long story very short, the February of my junior year, I ended up breaking up with the girl I was dating at the time and for a while, I was totally fine being single, but as many people end up finding, they start to get lonely after a while and I remember that my
senior year fall started and I found myself in what I would say is the closest to a depression,
that I have ever been in, I don’t think that it
was a true depression and I haven’t really experienced what other people have experienced
in that realm of things, but it was a very sad and
kind of down period of my life and what I tried to do to fix that, I thought that I needed to go out and find someone else to date, but I went about it in the wrong way, I started going to bars like
almost every single night and I’m not a huge drinker,
but I would go out there, because the only solution
to finding someone to date in my mind was that I
had to go out to bars, like where else do you meet people, who actually want to get
in a relationship, right and this was the complete wrong approach, because I would go, number one,
put myself in an environment where I was very unlikely to find people, who had similar interests and passions and values to what I had, but also I psyched myself
out every single time I went into a bar or
nightclub, because I went there with the express purpose
of finding somebody and that meant I put a ton of
pressure and anxiety on myself and this went on for a few months, until one night on a whim, I decided to go to the Anime
Club party at my school, because my roommate was
the president at the time. So this was just a
completely fun thing to do, I had absolutely no expectations from it and wouldn’t you know it, that’s where I met Anna, my girlfriend, who I’ve been with for six
years and I met her there, because I put no expectations on myself, I didn’t have any anxiety,
which allowed me to be myself and that’s why she was attracted to me. So if there is a lesson here at all, I would say don’t put so
much pressure on yourself to find a companion, go out, do things with the intention of finding
friends and having fun and while you’re doing those things, in the process you’re
likely to meet people, who again, share passions,
who you might be attracted to and they might be attracted to you and you’re not putting
pressure on yourself, so you’re gonna be yourself
in those situations. Alright, mistake number seven
is not doing my due diligence, when it came to the costs of college and this specifically is referring to the costs of living on campus. So when I was researching what it would take to live on campus, because I wanted to live in the dorm, so I could meet as many people as possible and be as close to the
opportunities as possible, the first bit of information I
found on my college’s website is that I had to pay for the dorm up front for an entire semester, which I believe was about $3500 each and every semester and I didn’t look passed that, I said okay, I don’t have $3500, so I went out and took out
student loans to pay for it. Only later in my college career, when I started to really get
to know the college’s website for a part-time job,
that I’d been hired for did I learn that there was actually a month to month payment
option for that dorm. So to give you some context, my original plan going into college was to get an apartment off
campus, so I could pay for it month to month with my
part-time job earnings, I didn’t have parents that
could pay for my college, so I knew I would have to
basically cover everything myself and I wanted to minimize debt, but eventually I decided
against the apartment idea, because again, I wanted to
be in the thick of things, I wanted to be on campus and meet as many people as
possible, all that good stuff, but I didn’t do my due diligence, I didn’t learn about this
month to month option and had I done that, I probably
could have paid for my dorm month to month with my
part-time job earnings or at least taken out far
fewer dollars in student loans. So the lesson here is
do your due diligence, don’t take the first bit of information you have at face value, especially if it’s going to involve you taking out a large student loan, dig in, ask questions,
challenge your base assumptions and you might find something that could save you a lot of money. And that brings us to our
final mistake on my list, which was failing to take advantage of what I call the fun opportunities and I call them the fun opportunities, because I have to seperate them from the professional opportunities. In college, I really did take advantage of professional opportunities,
I was in Business Council, I started a blog, I was in all these like academic standards committees and computer advisory
committees, all these things that I had done just
basically to boost my resume and that may actually be another mistake that I didn’t think about,
when writing this list, but what I put off were all the things that seemed really fun. So to give you some context here, my college has over 800 student
organizations and clubs, including things like
Downhill Dirtboarding Club, Skydiving Club, all these
outdoor adventure clubs and when I was a freshman, I went to this thing called Clubfest, where everyone had set up these booths and it was basically this entire event designed to show the freshmen
just what was available and what they could join and I remember seeing all these clubs and thinking these seem awesome,
I wanna do all of these, but I’m here for four years,
I can do them whenever I want, I have all the time in the world. So of course I let other
things get in the way, I let homework get in the way, I let video games with
friends get in the way, I let all these events that
I thought would build up my professional presence
and my resume get in the way and four years went by
without me ever doing any of those things, I never
did the Skydiving Club, I never did the Downhill
Dirtboarding Club, I did none of it. So if you find yourself
in a similar situation, where there’s something you wanna do, but you feel like you have
all the time in the world to do it, you have to commit
to it, find a way to set a date or commit to it with a friend, so it’s actually going to happen, even if something seems really fun, if there’s a little bit of
friction required to get into it or if it’s gonna take some time, you’re always going to find something that, quote unquote, comes up and makes you put it off a week, and then another week,
and then another week, until one day you find
yourself on your deathbed and you really regret never
going downhill dirtboarding. Now one potential regret that I thankfully didn’t
have to put on this list was failing to use my free time to work on independent learning projects, because this was definitely
something that I did in college. While a lot of the guys in my dorm used most of their free
time to play video games, I used the vast majority of my free time, that wasn’t taken up
by classes or projects or part-time jobs to work on
independent learning projects, that really interested me
and that really paid off, in fact all the hours
that I spent in my dorm learning PHP and Photoshop
and video editing gave me the skills that I needed to build and refine College Info Geek, which eventually turned into
a full-time business for me. So while I’m not suggesting that you never hang out with friends or never play video games, ’cause I definitely think
you should do these things, I do wanna leave you
with one parting thought, whether you’re in college or high school or even in the professional world, make sure that you’re using at
least some of your free time to pursue independent learning
projects, that interest you, don’t just come home and spend
all your free time on Netflix or video games or hobbies that
only result in consumption, learn something, build something, and remember that since you
get to pick the project, your higher level of interest in it will almost always lead to faster learning and you never know how it’s
gonna pay off in the future. Now if you wanna accelerate your learning in that project even further, you should also check out Skillshare, Skillshare is a library
of over 20,000 courses taught by expert teachers
and practitioners in a ton of different areas,
including graphic design, web development, story
crafting and even marketing. All their classes are
hands on with projects, that you can immediately
sink your teeth into, so you’re learning actively right away and there’s also a chat area, where you can ask
questions and get feedback. Now one class that I wanna
highlight for you this week is Thomas Lowry’s class on
creating a UX design portfolio and this is partly because
creating a portfolio is an essential skill for
anyone doing creative work, but also because the class
uses a free tool called Figma, which to spoil things a little bit is a tool that I’ve been using to craft a brand new version of the
College Info Geek website and this tool is amazing, anybody who wants to get
into the field of web design, I think should start learning it. So if you wanna start
going through that class or check out any of the other classes in Skillshare’s library,
then click the link in the description down below and sign up and when you do, you’re also going to get a free two-month, unlimited
trial of their service, you can learn as much as
you want in two months and after that, a premium
subscription to their service is less than 10 bucks a month and you can cancel at any
time, so it’s risk free and honestly, I think it
is an awesome service. I wanna give a big thanks to Skillshare for sponsoring this video and being a big supporter of this channel and as always, guys, thank
you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this video
and got something out of it, maybe consider leaving a like and you can also subscribe right there, if you don’t wanna miss new videos, when they come out every single week. You can also get a free copy of my book on how to earn better
grades right over there, watch one more video on this
channel right around here or follow me on Instagram @TomFrankly. Thanks for watching, guys, and I will see you in the next one.