Student Voice


July 14, 2024

Rachel Responds

Students recount biggest regrets

March 9, 2012

Alexandra asks, “What are people’s biggest regrets in college? What do [seniors] wish they would have and would not have done?”

As a freshman coming to UW-River Falls you may have a variety of thoughts flying through your head. You might be concerned about how you will perform in class, if you’ll like your professors, other students, or your dormmate. You might know what your career path is or have a clue about your future, but chances are your main concerns involve that day, that week and that semester. After your first year, or even first day, you may already fantasize about graduating. I did. I wasn’t in any hurry to leave but I was already pining for a new location, new people and new memories.

It’s easy to think about now and the future, today. But what if you could take a look inside your mind that day you are in your cap and gown? What insights would you have? What changes would you make?

In an effort to answer Alexandra’s question I first scoured Centennial Science Hall for the physics department which would surely have someone on the brink of time travel discovery. However, I only found a flying helium-powered shark. The shark declined to comment.

So instead I sought out students with a few years too many under their belt and asked them what advice they would give freshman based on their regrets.

Britney Payne, a UWRF alumna, shared her regrets post-college. “My ultimate regret is I came to school with no direction or info, and my advisor didn’t give me a lot of direction. So I recommend being pro-active when asking questions,” said Payne.

Payne majored in geography with a minor in geology with the intention of traveling for National Geographic. Unfortunately, she didn’t know that pursuing a career in this field would require her to specialize in something within the program.

Unaware and without internship guidance, she now works for a hotel chain that is most certainly local. Aside from her academic regrets, Britney also said that she wished she had gone out more. She feels she missed out on some good memories.

Senior Janna Grassel shared regrets about her chosen major. “[I regret] jumping into a major without thinking about a career plan. Make sure you go to career fairs and talk to your advisor and make sure you’re choosing a major that fits you and what you want to do,” said Grassel. “[I also regret] not joining more organizations, so I’d suggest going to info tables and seeing what [organizations] have to offer.”

Senior Angela Kusilek had a different take on being involved in non-school related activities. Kusilek advised, “don’t go out every night of the week and get plastered. I’m still playing catch up.” Angela said a lot of people wish that they did more in college, but she did too much her freshman year. She expressed the importance of balance between personal and academic goals.

Junior Kirstie Langrehr said not to “go home every weekend.” Putting unnecessary miles on her car wasn’t worth missing out on memories in River Falls.

Senior Samantha Wickland said, “I regret not getting involved with school sports clubs and orgs right away. I missed out on two years of dancing for the school. So I’d tell freshman to find something to get involved in. You will not only have a great time but also make a bunch of friends that you will keep forever!”

If any of these words of wisdom strike a chord or concern within you, listen to it. Your life is yours for the making. If you question your academic or personal direction, do not ignore it. If you’re uncertain that you’ve chosen the right major, talk to someone.

Talk to a friend, a family member, career services, a counselor and your advisor. This support group can guide your academic goals. Counselors are available for free through the campus health department and specialize in a variety of things from the I-can’t-get-out-of-bed-fluenza to the I-don’tknow- why-I-chose-this-major-itis. Use them.

Don’t fall into a rut this semester, the next, or your last. It’s never too late to get involved on campus and in your community. There are organizations on campus involving sports, art, creativity, dance, Greek life, competition or your major so don’t let any opportunity slip past you. If something looks exciting, try it. Visit and to find an organization for you.

When graduation day comes don’t feel unfinished in your cap and gown. Everyone will have moments of regrets and questions of “what if” at points in their life. Ensure that your college experience is free from those moments.

Thanks for the question, Alexandra. Anyone may submit questions, concerns or quandaries to questionsforrachel@ Please send them right away if you’d like to see them in the next Student Voice. Don’t forget to like “Rachel Responds” on and follow “RachelResponds” on Twitter.

Rachel Woodman is a senior majoring in marketing communications and minoring in journalism. She loves to work hard, play hard, and use clichés! Look for her Facebook page “Rachel Responds” and email her your questions or topic ideas to