By Paris Close You may not fully realize it when you’re there, but college is a very special time and place. A once-in-a-lifetime experience. And as much as I hate to admit it, I have regrets about some of the choices I made — or didn’t make. Now that I’m a college graduate, I can see some of my mistakes more clearly. But isn’t that how it usually works? Looking back on those four years, here are some college opportunities I wish I had taken advantage of. 1. Internships First in the college opportunities are internships. I didn’t start my first internship until my senior year of college, and I can feel the eyes of judgement on me as I type. Long story short, don’t be like me: don’t wait until the last minute. Even though I was lucky enough to obtain two other internships later that year, that’s all it really was — luck. I wish I had applied sooner, because piling on so many internships during my senior year made the final stretch way more stressful. Start applying for internships now. This is a opportunity in college to take advantage of more importantly. Internships of any kind — paid or not — are like gold to employers, and an extensive list of internships on your resume will showcase your versatility and experience, two things employers are looking for most today. 2. Clubs and organizations Along the same lines, second college opportunities are clubs and organizations. I really wish I had joined more clubs and organizations when I was in school. I mean, I did join the school newspaper in my sophomore year and continued until graduation, but I always felt like there was more I could have done. Does having more clubs and organizations under your belt make you more marketable in the real world? Sort of, but there’s a catch. I was fortunate enough to find a club that also aligned with my prospective career, so I can’t speak for those who joined clubs for quantity rather than quality. So if you’ve joined clubs already, that’s great! If you’re in one that’s geared toward your field, even better! Either way, they make great additions to your resume, so be sure to find ones you like and are really passionate about. 3. (Social) networking Another thing in college opportunities is social networking. You remember that show, “As Told by Ginger?” That was practically me, Ginger, and I was totally fine with that. Having a small circle of friends didn’t bother me. Then I graduated and realized how much success in my field (journalism) depended on networking, which I did very little of. This was the same case for social media — I rebelled against Twitter, got bored with the vanity of Tumblr, and you couldn’t bribe me with enough cookies to make me “pin” something. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it wouldn’t hurt to chat it up with those classmates outside of class, not just for networking purposes, but also to create meaningful friendships. This is an opportunity in college to take advantage because whether you’re into it or not, networking will, in one way or another, determine your success — and I learned that the hard way. It can be scary making connections at first, but you’ll never know until you try, so get out there and start building relationships now. 4. Free time Lastly in college opportunities to not take for granted is your free time. I never considered myself the over-achieving type, but I pretended to be in college. I was trying to compensate for the things I hadn’t done or experienced by taking on too many projects at once, while attempting to excel academically. I was somehow able to manage, but I became like a number of characters I saw on television, the characters I didn’t like in real life: the academic, the aspiring blogger, the poser. Take it from someone who’s still getting used to the concept of “free time,” cherish it while you’re still in school. You’re in college after all, a place where the experiences are endless and there is time to both have fun and study. Whether you’re in the final stretch of your senior year or you just started packing for your first, make sure to take full advantage of your college opportunities. They could be vital to your happiness and success. Take it from me, you may never get them again. About the author Paris Close earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Aquinas College in 2014, where he worked as an editor for the college’s newspaper for three years. He is all too familiar with the horrors of final exams, almost being hit by flying lacrosse balls, and making friends with the snooze button. Paris’s leading obsessions are Jack Falahee and Jack Falahee’s face and beard, respectively.