6 different buckets, while providing a flavor of their thinking in the form of snippets."> College Podcast, High School Students"> Podcast | Episode-300-What-Alumni-Would-Do-Differently--If-They-Could-Redo-Their-College-Years-e214f33


 Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Episode #300: What Alumni Would Do Differently, If They Could Redo Their College Years!

Subscribe to Receive Venkat’s Weekly Newsletter

One alum would take more classes - difficult ones, another would attend all the daily talks (followed by dinner) on campus by renowned experts, and yet another would befriend professors as future collaborators. There’s more.

This episode organizes alumni thoughts on this topic from past episodes, into 6 different buckets, while providing a flavor of their thinking in the form of snippets.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introducing Episode #300 [0:27]
  • Learn More, Explore More [2:23]
  • Start Something Earlier [7:58]
  • Paying Attention to Relationships [13:03]
  • Be Involved on Campus [16:58]
  • Experiential Programs [20:25]
  • Take Advantage of College Resources [24:31]

Our Guests:

  • College Alumni featured on our Podcast over the last 3 years.

Memorable Quote: “...I wish I learned that lesson earlier, follow your heart, follow your passions. I felt like keeping that economics double major was, you know, something that would be better for my job prospects or would help please my family more.” Aidan Arasasingham, UCLA.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Venkat Raman  0:27  [Introduction to Episode #300]

Episode #300!

Little did I think, 3 years ago when all this started, that we would be here.

It goes without saying that we wouldn’t be here, with all your support, encouragement and patronage.

A BIG, Heartfelt, Thank You to all.

My goal endures: Bring college stories to high schoolers and their parents.

So, to celebrate this milestone, I have pulled together something special.

On my podcasts with College Alumni, I have frequently asked them what they would do differently, if they could go back in time and relive those 4 years?

Their answers are the best example of the past being prolog. Their own college experiences shape what they would do differently.

I have compiled and organized their wish list, and I have curated some as snippets for this episode.

I think you will find these responses very illuminating and provide invaluable insights, for high school students, parents, counselors as they ponder or plot their futures.

I have organized these stories into 6 buckets:

  1. Learn More, Explore More
  2. Start Something Earlier
  3. Pay Attention to Relationships
  4. Be Involved on Campus
  5. Experiential Programs
  6. Take Advantage of Resources

Venkat Raman  2:12

Now let’s go through these stories - one by one - in their own voices.


Venkat Raman  2:23  [Learn More, Explore More]

Learn more, Explore more.

Venkat Raman  2:28  

Jemina Bouma Perez is a graduate of Rice University. She talks about taking more classes.

Jemina  2:36  

Yeah, I would say this is sounds maybe silly. But I wish I could take more classes. I don't know if many people would say. But I wish I could because there was such a wealth of offerings. And I guess I'm glad that I focused on my area that already there was such a wide range of disciplines that were to be explored in my major. But I wish that's, you know, I just tried to branch out a little bit more, while still keeping in mind, right, you don't want to stretch yourself too thin. And some people tease my students for being like, double major, double minor, triple major, which is good for them. But I do wish that perhaps if I returned to Rice, I would take more classes or perhaps just shop around more to I would definitely would love to take more advantage of those, you know, fantastic professors and just such a, you know, interesting range. Like there were courses like cooking with Chef Rogers like that. I could learn cooking, even if yes, it may not have fit into my major plan. But

Venkat Raman  3:57  

Ettie Nikolova is a graduate of Cornell University, she would balance getting a good GPA with learning.

Ettie N  4:05  

I think I would have in hindsight, probably minored in something like Russian and majored in something in STEM. So that's kind of one thing. I think when I was an undergrad, I was really focused on having a really good GPA. Yeah. And so a lot of my choices were guided by God doing things where I have a track record of having done very well because I knew I would continue to do very well. And so I think, you know, older me would give younger me the advice that it's okay to you know, you don't have to get an A in every class, it's fine and maybe take a few more risks in terms of kind of finding what particular things interest me and being being open to that

Venkat Raman  5:03  

Aidan Arasasingam graduated from UCLA with a minor in art history. He would major in art history,

Aidan A  5:11  

You know, the one thing I just mentioned was was, you know, jokingly but but also a bit seriously as I think it would have been nice to major, double major in art history. At first, when I came to UCLA, I thought that the academic path that would make me more professionally viable or like made more sense, or would please my parents would be to double major in economics. So I started taking economics classes. I didn't to do too well on them, because they require a lot of math. And math was not always my strong suit. And I, my sophomore year, after putting a lot of time, effort and energy into studying economics, in that very quantitative sense. Realizing that I wasn't too good at quantitative economics, and then dropping out of that major, I, then you know, that's when I picked up the art history minor in the urban planning minor, which ended up teaching me much more than I think I was able to absorb doing quantitative economics. And so that's, I mean, I'm glad that it taught me those lessons. But if I were to redo it, I wish I learned that lesson earlier of, you know, follow your heart, follow your passions. I felt like keeping that economics, double major was, you know, something that would be better for my job prospects, or would help please my family more like these were all external motivations. Yeah. And I've been following my internal motivations. And it's funny, because in the end, I now work in economics.

Venkat Raman  6:55  

Jemmy Chayadi, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison, Jemmy would explore all that college has to offer.

Jemmy C  7:03  

So the other thing that I would do differently is just to be able to be more brave, to explore my my passions, to, to have interests, for example, in arts, or, like, dancing, for example, which I've never done even. But I think those are the times when in college, where, when I can also explore freely, and we having a chance to just make mistakes and say, like, oh, you know, what, that's really not what I liked. That's not really what I want. And kinda like, quickly, move on from there. And I think these are really the perfect time to do when, when I was when you were in campus.

Venkat Raman  7:58  [Start Something Earlier]

Start something earlier.

Venkat Raman  8:03  

Maya Brooks is a graduate of NYU, she would start in tech and entrepreneurship sooner.

Maya B  8:11  

If I could go back in time and redo some things. I would definitely have tried to get into tech and entrepreneurship sooner. I did not realize I think how big the landscape was going to be in technology. And I think I definitely was stuck on the fact that like, maybe you had to be a computer scientist in the tech field. And that's not the case, right. But I didn't have that exposure. When I was in college, we know that like there were other roles like that you could do product, or that you could do operations or like other other kind of roles in early stage technology companies, and they were all booming in New York, like they're in a really specific time period. And I definitely, like kind of like leveraged a little bit more of that to find out more about that path. I think it probably would have brought me down, it probably would have brought me to where I am sooner. I think I think everyone has their own unique individual path. And I'm really grateful to kind of have meandered in a few different ways because I've pivoted my career now like two or three different times.

Venkat Raman  9:22  

Sachin Ravi is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison. He would settled on computer science as a major while coming into college.

Sachin R  9:33  

It's hard because I feel like each of the things that happened sort of led me to what I was supposed to do next and it was like important in whatever my or I mean, my final destination ended up being give undergrad. So ideally, of course you just want like ideally I'd want to go into undergrad, knowing I want to do computer science like from day one and just staying somewhere for four years because transition has difficulties associated with it and like it, and leaving, you know, friends and going to a new school, it's not easy, right? So ideally, you'd want that. But for me, it just, I don't see how my experiences would have just automatically led me there. It kind of had to be this path. Because at each, I wouldn't call them missteps. But each like, each, each step that actually followed, gave me information or gave me data about what I should do next. And so, yeah, in terms of changing anything, I think everyone would prefer the ideal path. But I would say this was the path that I needed. Because from where I was coming into undergrad, I did not have the information necessary to like immediately, say, like, Okay, I'm going to start doing this and then proceed for four years, you know,

Venkat Raman  10:52  

Christina Chance, is a graduate of Emory University, Christina would start undergraduate research in her underclass years.

Venkat Raman  11:01  

Now, if you could go back in time, would you have started research early on earlier than when you did?

Christina C  11:07  

I 100%? Would Yes. It would give me more time to develop my skills around research, I feel like I'm trying to learn as much as I can before going into my program in the fall. So yeah, I would definitely start earlier. And also, like try to be like different types of lab, like, I'm glad I was able to have the experience in the biomedical lab, even though didn't suit me, having that experience taught me that I it didn't suit me.

Venkat Raman  11:38  

Miri Choi is a graduate of MIT, Mary started computer science late and felt she was at a disadvantage.

Miri  11:46  

Yeah, um, what I would change is that because I transitioned to computer science, a little late because it was a different meaning. And I didn't gain an interest in high school. So I naturally fell behind of other computer science students at MIT, and ultimately, built me like negativity around like software engineering and coding at that point. And that's how I naturally got into product management. But at that time, if I were to do differently, I would kind of get rid of the negativity and be open about coding. At that, if so then I would be able to build more engineering skill sets, because like product management and technical program manager, it would have been very helpful if I built my more experience in software engineering and know how to build myself. But I do like in that feels a little bit, I do see more of a bigger picture. But I wish I could have built more engineering perspective and coding. At that point, I was being a little negative about it. But if I were to go back, I would be open and I would have been more willing to learn about coding and willing to become a software engineer.

Venkat Raman  13:03  [Paying Attention to Relationships]

Paying attention to relationships.

Venkat Raman  13:08  

Cleo Handler is a graduate of Yale University, she would reach out to professors as future collaborators.

Cleo  13:17  

You know, I have some friends from college who made very deep lasting relationships with a lot of their professors. And I think, you know, there are probably two who I'm still in contact with on a regular basis and who I love and admire and like see their work in New York, but I was a little bit shy about that. I don't know why. And I wish I had been, you know, had seen my professors more as, as potential friends and collaborators and obviously, people I respected but I could like get lunch with you instead of just sort of seeing them as the more high school model of like, Thanks for the class, but you know,

Venkat Raman  13:56  

right, right.

Venkat Raman  14:00  

Eric Yu graduated from the University of Michigan, Eric would just hang out with his friends and taken all that the campus has to offer.

Eric Y  14:09  

In general, I want to say I would if I relived my experience again, I would be perfectly content and really happy. Those four years were definitely some of the best of my life. Yeah, that being said, I sacrificed sleep a lot to make sure I got all that I wanted out of college. I think that that sleep that over four years may have like caught up to me in my mid 20s. Where now i I'm struggling with this. I think the main thing is figuring out a better sleep schedule. But in terms of the university itself, I thought it was fantastic. I loved it. I would do it again. I wish I could do it again with my friends. When that for years passes, it passes super quickly and it doesn't come back, you know, so if I could go back in time, this isn't something that I would change but I wish I could have you know Oh, maybe another month to spend with my friends just during the different late night Hangouts that we had going to get food at Buffalo Wild Wings, or going around and exploring campus because I think those are some of my favorite memories. And now that everyone's all over the United States, it's a lot harder to be able to create that same kind of atmosphere.

Venkat Raman  15:23  

Rifat Mursalin attended Emory University, referred would build more relationships with peers and professors

Rifat  15:33  

on the relationship side, so with your peers and friends really put in the effort and energy to build and nurture meaningful relationships, because these are the things that will stay with you long after you leave campus, Emory or regardless of where you're where you go to college, there'll be a second advice I give her I would do different, not different, because I've done some of it, but I would do even more. And the other thing in particular I would do is coming out of college, really making sure to continue rekindling those relationships, I unfortunately, went into a very rigorous and demanding profession, where I frankly, just did not have the time to nurture those relationships after graduating. So, uh, one other thing I neglected to mention, I also wrote an honors thesis that kind of carried on all through my senior year. So that also was a huge time commitment. But so the advice I would give is really focusing to nurture those relationships. So that's with the friends and peers, but with the professors, I would say strongly, highly rec, encourage folks to go to office hours, and really getting to know their professors I have done I'm really glad I did that, and would do more, if I were a student again.

Venkat Raman  16:58  [Be Involved on Campus]

Be involved on campus.

Venkat Raman  17:02  

Elizabeth Eill is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Elizabeth would spend time volunteering,

Liz E  17:11  

as far as you know, where I went, and what degree programs I was in, I wouldn't change any of that. But you know, there are things that I feel like I would have liked to have been more involved in, you know, I wish that I had, you know, more time to you know, pursue some of those like extracurricular things like I had friends that had time to, you know, volunteer at the, at the, at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Like that would have been really fun to be able to, like, you know, kind of experience more of that. And I also wish that I had done more shadowing. So I shadowed a couple of different, you know, career people, but I didn't do it to a really high extent. And I wish that I had gone to those people and said, Hey, I might be interested in doing this as a career. Can you Can I shadow you for a day or you know, you don't have a coffee talk with you? You know, tell me what you do for, you know, how did you get to where you are? And what is your actual job like? Because you know, you can read stuff on the internet, and that does not usually do most jobs, justice.

Venkat Raman  18:16  

Dominic Perkaj graduated from Columbia University. In addition to football, he would participate in more campus activities.

Sanjeet  18:25  

That's a good question. I definitely, definitely would still play football. Because I loved it. And I have some of my closest friends on the planet I've made through the game. And through my years at Columbia, but I think what would I do differently? I think I really am not a guy that ever likes to look back and figure out what That's right. But the question is forcing me to do so. And I think one thing I would do a little differently is I think it would be to try to get more involved with some of the student organizations, some of the different groups, because I felt like I kind of had my head down a lot with between football and school, and really had my head down. And I was just hyper focused on football in school. And I wasn't as involved as I would have liked to be. And I wasn't meeting as many students that were not playing football, that were just students at Columbia as I would have liked to. So I think that's the one thing that I think I would have tried to find to find some sort of adjustment there.

Venkat Raman  19:30  

Chloe Heskett is a graduate of the University of Virginia. Chloe would divide her time between the newspaper and other campus organizations.

Chloe  19:41  

I would try more in terms of just various I mean, I was very involved with the paper but I wasn't really involved with paper until about halfway through my second year. So I think I would if I were starting all over again, I would love to just give more organizations more student activities that you bounce. And I think I think I went in, you know, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I thought that I knew a lot of what I didn't want to do. So I would I would flip that around. If I were starting again and just try a lot more because you know, at 1718 I was 17 when I started 1819. You know, you don't, you don't know what you don't like necessarily. So

Venkat Raman  20:25  [Experiential Programs]

Experiential Programs

Venkat Raman  20:31  

Sanjeet Rangarajan attended Vanderbilt University, he would find a way to study abroad.

Sanjeet  20:37  

Yeah, you know, I think that I would. So I mentioned Study Abroad briefly. Yeah. I really, I love traveling. I mean, and that's something that's been the hardest to do. You know, give since the pandemic, and, and, and I developed that that appreciation for travel later, you know, after I left Vanderbilt, and, you know, I wasn't, I wasn't, I did not prioritize doing a study abroad at the time. And, and that's one of the things I think I would have done, you know, like I said, it's difficult in engineering, because certain classes are only taught in certain semesters. So, you know, you have to go in a sequence. But there were opportunities in Australia and the United Kingdom and Ireland and, you know, some of these places, and I think that traveling as a young adults, you know, in your, you know, early 20s, is something that everybody should do, I think no matter what your major is, I think, you know, understanding how people live in a place that's different from where you are is something that, you know, I would encourage anybody who is applying to college or, or you even decides not to go to college, I think understanding that perspective is important. So

Venkat Raman  21:55  

Tyler Gathman is a graduate of Iowa State University. Tyler would take advantage of the undergraduate research opportunities at ISU.

Tyler  22:05  

So again, in addition to maybe starting out in the general program, I think getting more involved with other student groups would be something that I would do if I had gone back, I think I focused on classes almost exclusively most of the time, even though I did have extracurriculars in there, and it's not a bad thing. You know, things worked out. But I think there could have been a better balance in there. Because there's just so many interesting things happening. I've stayed like, research is something that I probably would have enjoyed getting more involved in. There's a lot of robust research happening, and I would state all over the place.

Venkat Raman  22:50  

Jennifer Davis, of the University of Virginia would fit study abroad in her schedule.

Jen  22:58  

Yeah. I would say that one thing I didn't do is study abroad. And, you know, it was one of those things where, because I transferred, like I wanted as much time at UVA as possible. And so I, at the time, I kind of felt like, I don't, I don't really want to miss, like, I'm hitting my stride here. I don't want to miss, you know, I can travel another time. So let me just cool it for a while. But I do think, you know, I did have a couple friends that studied abroad a couple, you know, one went to London for a semester. And there was another one who went to Spain. And so you know, I, there is something so great about that study abroad experience. Right? Of course. Yeah. And, and so, you know, to really live in another country to learn in another country to learn and another culture, I think, is just a really enriching experience. So I wonder if I would reconsider that even having transferred right, even, you know, only being on UVA is grounds for three years, like maybe I could have squeezed in a semester and, you know, this semester in Spain or Italy or something, you know, just just to have that.

Venkat Raman  24:31  [Take Advantage of College Resources]

Take advantage of college resources.

Venkat Raman  24:36  

Rob Franklin attended Stanford University. He would make use of the grants and arts to pursue his creative passion.

Clare O  24:45  

I think I would have taken more advantage of some of the resources there especially some of the arts Reese resources, I think, I mean, in kind of the narrative of my life, I think there spent a lot of me kind of running away from this desire to pursue kind of a more creative path. Because of just like the uncertainty like innately involved in that. And yes, and I think I just kind of embraced that sooner, there were a lot of resources, I really could have taken advantage of a lot of like, arts grants that I don't think were, you know, prohibitively difficult to get to work on your own projects, that I when I look at Friends, I mean, I've got a friend who, sorry, there's a siren, I think in the background. I've got a friend who Slowbro a painter who lives a couple of blocks away from me in Brooklyn, and and they, they were just much better about kind of applying for those sorts of grants and undergrad, and I think it really colored their experience. And so I do think I took advantage of that somewhat, but I would have, I would have done a lot more of that. Because there's just it's it's true that you will basically never be in a position where those sorts of resources are as accessible to you as college.

Venkat Raman  26:18  

Reid Furubayashi is a graduate of Claremont University. Reid would spend every evening listening to renowned guest speakers on campus.

Reid  26:28  

Yeah, I think if you ask any I'd be curious about other Claremont McKenna folks say and you say something different, but one of my biggest regrets is Claremont. McKenna did this incredible thing, where every, every day of the week, like Monday through Friday, they would bring in a speaker that speaks at dinner, what we call the Athenaeum, and then they you would get a free dinner. And it was like white tablecloth seating, and you'd listen to like an artist, or a politician or an academic or a musician come and talk for an hour. And then they come and sit with you at the table. And it's free. And you can go you get dinner paid for you just have to sign up ahead of time. And I did not go to enough of those. I didn't realize how unique that was. And that's something I would have done differently because they did it every single night. And I you know, I just didn't go that often. But like they brought Bondo in from YouTube, they brought Bill Clinton in Condoleezza Rice, they brought in you know, some, some like artists and academic I mean, every the whole spectrum was represented and I just wish I had taken advantage of that. More.

Venkat Raman  27:52  

Clare Overmann graduated from Georgetown University. Claire wants to take advantage of all that college has to offer.

Clare O  28:01  

Oh, if I could go back now I would just I would take advantage of so much more than I did. I would take advantage of the people. The resources, all of the professors I would have I would try out new clubs just been even even more adventure. I think I thought I was being adventurous or involved at the time. But I think looking back I could have been even more adventurous tried so many other new things. I just I think I didn't realize nobody realizes how how short the time is when that you college.

Venkat Raman  28:44  

Miloni Gandhi of UCLA would stay an extra year to benefit from all the college resources.

Miloni  28:52  

I think if I was able to go back, I would try to stay a little longer. I know the typical degree everyone is saying is four years, but I ended up double majoring and double minoring and studying abroad for a year all in four years. So I actually was not on campus for all four years, I think I would maybe choose if I was supported to do so stay for the fifth year so that I could take a little more advantage of what the campus has to offer. Because there are a lot of resources that are open to students. And once you graduate and you're not a student, those opportunities are unavailable to you. And a lot of folks in the workforce are much more likely to talk to a student about certain issues or offer you an internship or a part time job when you're a student and you need to do such and such project for class, as opposed to when you're a fully fledged To the working individual who's trying to get a full time job. Students are less threatening, I guess in some ways.


Venkat  30:12  [Close]

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed Episode #300.

I hope you found it eye-opening and instructive.

Do check out our podcasts for rich, personal and diverse expressions of college and the possibilities.

Also take a look at my newsletter at “almamatters dot substack dot com”.

Thank you all so much for listening to this episode today and all our previous ones.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to stay connected..

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you & Keep Listening!

Summary Keywords

Podcast for High Schoolers, US Colleges, College Podcast, High School Students.

Is College in US for you?