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Raise your hand if you did college perfectly.
Yeah … me either.
If you’ve had second thoughts about the decisions you made when you were 18 — like where you went to school or what you studied — you’re not alone.
A recent Gallup Poll found that 51 percent of adults would change at least one of their major college decisions.
Curious about which ones lead the way? And what to do if you have college regrets? Keep reading.
The biggest college regrets (of grown-ups)
To collect this data, Gallup teamed up with Strada Education Network to interview nearly 90,000 American adults aged 18 t0 65.
The interviewers asked respondents about their education paths and experiences — and whether they’d change anything.
Here are the results.
51% of adults regret one of their college decisions
That’s right: More than half of adults would change one education decision — whether it’s their degree, institution, or college major.
“It seems individuals’ desires to make different choices may … be a function of having made decisions without complete information, such as future employment opportunities, earning potential, or the long-term effect of student debt,” explained the study’s authors.
36% of U.S. adults would change their field of study
The biggest decision people would change? What they went to college to learn.
Thirty-six percent of adults surveyed would change their field of study. But for adults between 30 and 40 years old who earned less than $40,000, that number jumped to 44 percent.
“The concentration of second thoughts over field of study could be rooted in the challenges that consumers face in using their education to obtain their ideal job,” explained the study’s authors. “The field of study one selects in many ways dictates the skills an individual acquires which, in turn, influences how well they can compete and perform in the workforce.”
In other words, what you study could have a big impact on your future career and earnings, and many people who were interviewed felt they’d chosen incorrectly. (Click here if you’re still in school and want to see the majors with the biggest return on investment.)
Student loan borrowers have even more college regrets
The study also looked at adults with student loan debt, hoping to learn whether someone with high debt would have more regrets than others. As you might’ve guessed, the answer was yes.
When it comes to borrowers with more than $75,000 of student loans:
- 14 percent would’ve gotten a different degree.
- 38 percent would’ve chosen a different institution.
- 63 percent would’ve made at least one decision differently.
4 ways you can recover from college regrets
If you have second thoughts about where you went to school or what you studied, it’s never too late to take matters into your own hands.
Here are four ideas for recovering from your college regrets.
1. Go back to school
If you’ve discovered your career field doesn’t align with your degree, it’s not out of the question to go back to school. You’re older (and hopefully wiser) and know exactly which degree will get you where you want to go.
Take Tyler Hammett, for example. Although he got his first bachelor’s degree in psychology, he eventually decided to become a web developer and returned to college to major in information technology.
“Since I already had one degree, I didn’t need to do all the prerequisites,” Hammett explained. “So it’s going to be much quicker this time around — two years total. And I know it’ll help me get the job I want.”
2. Take online classes
You don’t have to seek an entirely new degree, though. If there are skills you didn’t learn in college, why not try to learn them online?
Platforms such as Udemy offer courses in everything from marketing to writing to Photoshop. You’ll be able to learn at your own pace, in your PJs, and for much less money than a college class.
Before going back to school, Hammett took Udemy courses in coding — both to get practice and to ensure he liked his new career path.
3. Pursue your passions on the side
Wish you’d studied art instead of business? Or business instead of art?
Well, your job isn’t the only place you can express your passions. You could start a side hustle that explores another side of you.
Just look at Becky Pospisal, who raked in $70,000 with her string art business last year. She wanted something that would let her work with people and be creative — and now it’s turned into her full-time job.
Even if it’s not a passion that’ll earn you money, you can enjoy it as your hobby. (Sometimes it’s better that way.)
4. Refinance your student loans
Many people regret their college decisions because of the high student loan bills that flood in after graduation. If you’re in this boat, you might want to consider refinancing your student loans.
Let’s say you had $40,000 of loans at an interest rate of 5.70% and refinanced at an interest rate of 3.99%. You’d reduce your monthly payments by $33 per month and save nearly $4,000 in interest over 10 years.
Run your own numbers with our refinancing calculator and see how much you could save.
When most of us think of college regrets, we picture things like late nights and missed lectures. But the reality is the bigger decisions surrounding our education can have a much longer-lasting impact.
So don’t sit around pining for a past that didn’t happen — start taking action today.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 6.23%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|