As seniors in high school all over the country are working on their college apps, I recently attended my first week of classes at Rutgers University. In my opinion, I came into Rutgers very prepared for the changes: I read many different blog posts about college life and talked to many of my college friends. But it is never exactly what people say, there is always a twist that makes the experience unique to you. I wanted to share some of the things I knew were going to be different but didn't expect to be so different from college compared to high school. Seniors should know what is ahead of them in a few short months.
When I came to Rutgers, I thought I would make friends instantly. We all hear that college friends are your lifelong friends, so I was very excited. However, making friends takes longer than you might originally think. In the first couple weeks, you talk to so many different people but they all won't be your friends. Your friends will change, you will get closer to some people and more distant from others. When I moved in (I moved in later than the freshman move-in date because I was out of the country), I knew no one. I felt lonely and thought I would never make friends. But coming from a relatively quiet person, don't worry. It takes time but you will make friends.
I met some people from my classes and I also am joining clubs where I have already met people. Also, I would suggest trying to meet people on your floor! Say "hi" to your floormates and smile when you see them, ask how their day was. Also, try talking to people who post on Facebook before you start college. Be involved in orientation. My roommate made a close group of friends with the people she met at orientation and she is loving college!
Since we are on the topic of people and friends, Rutgers is a large state university. When enrolling with Rutgers, I knew a lot of people from my high school would be here but because it is such a large school, I did not expect to run into so many people as often as I did. You may or may not care about this but I thought I would write it down because some people may care about that.
Socially it isn't like high school where people would care about what others think. Because there are so many people on campus, people usually are not thinking about what the other person is wearing or doing unless it disrupts them from living their life. People have so much on their plate that they have to manage by themselves they don't have time to judge or fret over others. This leads me to the next thing which is very different regarding college.
You are responsible for everything by yourself in college. Professors won't always tell you your homework. In all my classes not once has my professor reminded me to do my reading. In fact, you don't even have a close relationship with your professor unless you make the effort to and go to their office hours. Often times the professor won't even know you unless you go their office hours because they teach hundreds of students. In fact, most professors don't even take attendance because of the large class sizes. This probably changes as you advance in your major throughout college but as a first year taking many of the "general" cases I found this to be true. It is definitely something that is taking some time to get used to. You really need to be organized and keep up with your work because it is VERY VERY easy to fall behind in college.
Some ways I keep organized are by keeping a planner. I know everyone says this but it is important to have one in college. It does not have to be a physical one (though I do recommend it) but definitely use one. I also use Google Calendar and the sticky notes app on my Mac. Every morning (when I am not rushing to make my 8 am) I take out some time to plan out my day and look over everything I need to get done. I can't say this enough times, KEEP UP WITH WORK. It is SO easy to fall behind. You are an adult now. Even if you are in-state, you don't have your parents telling you everything to do and not do. Don't go crazy with that freedom: College is the best four, but also four very crucial years of your life.
Seniors, I hope this was helpful when thinking ahead of college life. It is a big change, even to those who are prepared. Good luck with everything ahead!