“IF ONLY,” is the beginning of a million thoughts that race through our minds everyday. Everyone has one or more “maybes” in their lives that leave them wondering how things would have or could have gone differently if they had known better. If there were a redo button that took people back to any moment in the past, many would take the chance. University students and professors are no exception. Since everyone has a unique college experience, everyone has different advice to give. From nervous freshmen, lazy sophomores, hopeless juniors, to stressed out seniors, The Yonsei Annals asked Yonseians what they would have done differently during their university lives.
Kim Yeo-joo (Fresh., UIC, Underwood Div.)
I regret eating too many late night snacks. As a freshman, I felt that the only way to socialize and make friends was through eating and drinking late at night. I enjoyed going on late night eating sprees with new friends, but after a while, I saw how late night snacks were ruining my eating and sleeping schedules. Also, I realized that lasting friendships were not made over late night snacks. So my advice for incoming students would be to not feel pressured to go out late at night to socialize — it can easily destroy your college life!
Choi Yun-seo (Fresh., University College, Pre-Med.)
I wish I had scheduled my classes so that they overlapped with my friends’. I know it is hard for most freshmen to do that since they barely know anyone before the year starts. Still, if I had included classes that a lot of other students took, it would have been helpful in meeting new people. I also wish I had enjoyed a little more fun as a freshman instead of studying too hard.
I’m currently part of a club in my major and I like it, but I regret not participating in a larger student club where I could have met more people outside of my major. Also, as a YIC student I wish I had not been so worried about collecting enough RC points, because apparently my House is very generous in giving out RC points at the end of the semester. I tried to earn as many points as possible at the start of the year, but now I feel like that was unnecessary.
Anonymous (Soph., Dept. of English Language & Lit.)
I wish I could have just gotten myself together. If I had less alcohol, I could have had a much more fulfilling freshman year. I remember when I drank a lot in Songdo one day and completely passed out. I ended up making an unspeakable mistake to my friends. I was so mortified that I didn't tell anyone about this. The mistake I made that day was one of the most shameful moments in my life. I felt so guilty that I bought sushi for all the people who were there that night, which cost me about ₩200,000.
Also, in my opinion, most college students think about doing something but never really take action. Like we know an answer to something but we don’t do anything about it. Once, I had a 9 a.m. exam so I pulled an all-nighter. When it was getting closer to the exam time, I wanted to take a shower and freshen up before heading out, but thought it was too early to go to the exam room. Instead, I decided to lay down for a bit. I accidentally fell asleep and before I knew it, I woke up to find that I had missed my exam. Even though I prepared so much, I ended up not being able to take the exam. So I think in university, you should be more responsible about the decisions you make.
Choi Emily (Jr., Dept. of Psychology)
I started university in the fall*, so I felt like I had to be more outgoing. I forced myself to go to every club after-party until I realized that it’s okay to not fit in; that it’s okay to have a few close friends instead of knowing everyone. As the years passed, I’ve realized that at the end of the day, even students in the same major grow apart as they pursue different career paths.
Also, I would’ve used my holidays more wisely. During my freshman and sophomore year, I thought two months were too short to do anything meaningful. Now, I regret not participating in mentoring camps or extracurricular activities that would have exposed me to new experiences. As a junior, I feel that I now lack the time to make up for the holidays I didn’t make use of.
Yoon Se-hoon (Sr., College of Communication)
I used to be a little afraid of group projects because I was hesitant to talk about serious social issues we cover in class to someone I didn't know that well. However, now that I'm nearing graduation, I chose classes that heavily involve discussions and presentations this semester because I felt like I wouldn't have the opportunity to share ideas with new people outside of school. Also, since I started school a little later than most students, I thought I didn't have the time to study abroad as an exchange student but if I could go back in time I would definitely go on exchange.
A lot of people have told me to play hard or travel to as many places as possible during my freshman and sophomore years. However, I would like to advise students to experience and study a variety of fields. Course lectures in my major are interesting, but I don't think my major fully addresses my specialties and interests. I think it's wise to explore a wide range of areas, and find ones that you're interested in.
Yoon Na-ra (Class of 2011, Dept. of Business)
If I were to go back to my undergraduate years, I would literally do everything that I didn’t do. I would participate in clubs, hang out with friends and go to trips more often, and also work part-time at a café or a restaurant. Now that I’m an office worker, I no longer have the opportunity to try them out. I also regret not applying for the student exchange program to study abroad. I guess I was afraid of trying new things at the time.
I wish I would have known more about programs that the school offers. Looking back, Yonsei has a great career center, counseling center, and library. I regret not making the best out of it. Also, I should have known that a lot of my colleagues worked hard behind my back! When several of my drinking buddies later passed the CPA exam**, I thought to myself that I should have devoted more time on developing my strengths. I really recommend undergraduates to do everything they can as long as it’s legal and doesn’t harm others!
William Ashline (Prof., Dept. of English Language & Lit.)
If I were to go redo my time back at university, I would like to focus on a single interest early on instead of trying out different fields of studies. That would have saved me a lot of time, energy and headaches. So if you could explore different paths in high school and “dabble” in a variety of areas at that point in life, it’s better than doing so in college. Although universities are a place where you can have different experiences, it’s still good to know what you are interested in earlier on.
My advice to university students would be: “Anticipate who you are going to be when you are fifty-years-old so that you can make the right decisions now.” You won’t stay the same person; your personality, career and preferences will all change. It’s neither a good nor a bad thing —that’s just normal. So, starting now, try to please that future fifty-year-old person you are going to be as best as you can.
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Looking back on the semester, flashes of our mistakes race through our minds. However, don’t forget that your mistakes do not define you. Rather, you should learn what not to do by learning from those past failures.
*Korean universities begin in the spring, so students who are admitted in the fall start school mid-year.
**CPA exam: The official examination that licenses public accountants