15 Things I Learned AFTER My First Year At Rutgers University

15 Things I Learned AFTER My First Year At Rutgers University

7. You might actually become friends with people in your classes.
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It's hard to believe that I'm already a quarter of the way done with college! Time flies and it's safe to say I've learned a lot in and out of the classroom in my first year alone. Here are a few lessons that stuck out to me the most.

1. Get involved in the things you actually like

I get it, college is the big times and everyone is trying to build resumes. Do yourself (and the on-campus organizations) a favor, and get involved in things that you are actually interested in. Sure, some things that you don't like may look great on your resume but at the end of the day, if you can't pull experiences from there it means nothing. No matter what is it, professional or not, odds are you will gain some type of valuable experience to make you look good later. Have FUN! Investing your time in something you are passionate about will be much more useful than subjecting yourself to what you think will help get you ahead. If you're spending time doing it, make sure you like it, or else it becomes a chore.

2. Not having AP credits didn't affect me

In high school, I took 5 AP exams and graduated with a total of 0 college credits as a result. I thought this meant that I would be behind everyone else once I got to college, and it really didn't. Sure, I wasn't excused from Rutgers dreaded Expository Writing class, but I can honestly say that this class helped me grow and make new friends, something I would have missed out on had I APed out.

3. Finding my roommate first was a great decision

This is a super rare occurrence, which makes me even more grateful. We connected on Facebook months prior to move in day and met in person before deciding to room together. I couldn't be more happy about it. My roommate, a fellow Odyssey writer, is my best friend, rock, and everything in between. The times we've spent stressing, venting, and having fun together are priceless to me. Living with her made me feel as if I gained another sister. I am so fortunate to have had her in my life this year, and can't wait to continue to grow together at Rutgers and beyond.

4. Don't wait for people. Get on with your life

Sometimes, you have to stop being afraid of being alone and put yourself out there. This might mean taking a class in a subject that interests you without anyone you know or attending a club meeting by yourself. The point is, you could miss out on a lot of exciting opportunities if you rely on always having someone by your side. Everyone has different interests and agendas, which is OK. Doing things on your own could open the door to new friendships and experiences.

5. Being single is fantastic

There is a lot of hype around relationships, but what is better than living life for yourself? The feeling of not having to answer to anyone is great. It sounds selfish, but the only person you have to make decisions for is you. There is less stress and more time to focus on your own life. Plus, who wants to be up late FaceTiming your boyfriend when you can get an extra two hours of sleep?

6. Don't take Friday classes

A lot of people will disagree with me on this. I was fortunate enough to not take Friday classes either semester this year, which was fantastic! Fridays were MY day go to go the gym, do laundry, sleep in, and even get a head start on weekend homework. This is something you can't appreciate until you experience a 4 day class week for yourself. Once you start having Fridays off, you'll never look back.

7. You might actually become friends with people in your classes

I had no intention of ever befriending anyone in any of my classes, especially the 400 person lectures or 9 am math class. However, after exchanging a few phone numbers and forming some study groups, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people from class I became friends with. It never hurts to have an extra study buddy. Besides, having friends in your class might make them more enjoyable, or give you a reason to go to class for that matter.

8. Staying friends with people from high school is very possible

I'm proud to say that I am still friends with pretty much everyone I hung out with in high school, but it is definitely a group effort. Everyone needs to make an effort to keep the relationship. Social media makes it easier than ever to keep in touch, too! With that said, some old friendships may not last into college, and that's fine too. If anything, remember that it takes nothing to send old friends a text to check in every once in a while.

9. Venmo is your new best friend

No one carries cash on them anymore. NO ONE. If you go out to eat with your friends, buy coffee together, or even split an uber, there's a huge chance that you'll be paying one another back via Venmo. It's super convenient. A lot of on-campus organizations take it! The "I have no cash" excuse is no longer acceptable for not buying a cookie from the bake sale.

10. Always steal food from the dining hall

I know I always get hungry late at night, and sometimes a granola bar doesn't cut it. Personally, I enjoy taking fruit- apples, oranges, and bananas- from the dining hall, but some people get even more creative. Bring Tupperware containers to the dining hall to fill with pasta or whatever other foods will fulfill your late night cravings.

11. It's OK to be homesick

At first, I was completely against going home. To some degree, it is important to get acclimated before visiting home. However, it is equally as important to accept your homesickness and go home if you're feeling down or overwhelmed. If possible, a good night's sleep in your own bed and a homecooked meal can help you get through whatever the rest of the semester has to throw at you.

12. Ask for help

If you're ever in a bind, odds are someone else has been in a similar situation. 9 times out of 10, there is either somewhere on campus you can go to for help or someone who can point you in the right direction. Don't be too proud to reach out for help, everyone is growing in changing in college. Whether you need tutoring, counseling, or any other university service covered under tuition, after the fact, you'll be glad you sought help.

13. You will become friends with the people on your floor

At least, I did. This made my freshman year so special and enjoyable. My fellow floormates became my best friends. In fact, we were kind of like a family. Because of this, there was always someone to go to the dining hall with, walk to class together, or even just hang out after a long day, which made for an easy transition from moving away from home. I made relationships on my floor that I know will last well past our freshman year.

14. Professors aren't out to get you

Before I started college, I was under the impression that professors were all super strict and noncompassionate. I realized fast how wrong I was. Most professors are not at all intimidating and genuinely care about you if you put the effort in. For the most part, they want you to succeed. If you show you care, you can even get to know professors in your 400-person lecture!

15. College goes by fast

As I'm writing this, I cannot believe that I am a quarter of the way done with college! Now I know what everyone meant when they told me that college goes fast. With that being said, I will continue to cherish every moment I have in college, no matter how stressful thing may be, for I will never have this experience again in my life.

Cover Image Credit: Christine DiNapoli

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7 Truths About Being A Science Major

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Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

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The Truth About Responsibility

Part three of a five-part series on leadership.

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In this five-part series, I'm not going to give you a definition of leadership. I'm not even going to try to come up with one on my own, because your idea of leadership is exactly that, YOURS. My only hope is that my ideas can help you better understand your idea of leadership.

By now, you may have noticed that these articles are structured in a specific way. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, go check out the first two articles in this five-part series. I tell you why a respective trait, this week that trait is responsibility, is so much more than its definition. Then go on to explain why it's crucial for being a successful leader and leave you with something to ponder.

However, now and in the future, I am going to add a general example to help solidify my point and allow you to see the full picture. These examples are for your use. Interject characters or people you know into the scenarios to better illustrate it for yourself. Maybe you've been in one of these situations, I would love to hear about it.

Part 3: What is responsibility? And what does it have to do with leadership?

Responsibility is similar to leadership in that everyone you ask will probably explain it with a story rather than a definition. This makes sense because it is just too broad to be accurately defined in one statement. I could probably come up with some ideas for stories to illustrate my point about responsibility, but I don't think that would be helpful to you.

Google would tell you that responsibility is "the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something". I actually like this definition! But to better illustrate my point, try this little thought experiment. Think back to the last time you had "a duty to deal with something".

What was that something? Who charged you with that duty? Was it really yours to deal with?

Too often we think of responsibility in mundane terms. Some may say that responsibility is shown by getting an assignment done or showing up to an important meeting on time. I would generally agree that doing these mundane activities show responsibility, but only in a mundane sense. The completion of a duty that someone else charges you with is just too simple.

Think about responsibility. It is so much more than just getting things done. It is so much bigger than an assignment or a meeting.

Responsibility is a mentality. Responsibility is a way of life.

You should really be thinking about responsibility as an ideal which you strive for, not a box that you check. Welp, I was responsible today! I made all of my meetings, check! I finished all of my work, check! Guess I don't need to be responsible tomorrow!

See how well that works out.

Responsibility is about taking ownership of what you do, in all situations. Everything you say and everything you do. The things that you are proud of and those which make you feel ashamed. Each one of your successes, as well every single one of your failures and shortcomings. That last one isn't easy, I know.

Responsibility is also seeing things through to completion. If you start a project, you finish it. If you set a meeting, you make it there on time. If you say you will do something, you do it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Responsibility is completing a duty which you charged yourself with, regardless of that duty.

But when you start thinking this way, day in and day out, responsibility becomes natural. It becomes the way of life you want it to be, ubiquitous and easy to see. This is when leadership comes into play.

Being more responsible in your everyday life will make you a better leader.

Regardless of the situation, responsibility will carry over. It will also spread. As more and more people see you taking ownership and seeing things through to completion, they will follow your example. Friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family will appreciate the fact that you actually care enough to do what you say you are going to do.

Leading by example, isn't that the best form of leadership?

Here is a scenario for you to view through your own eyes. You are part of a group which is charged with completing a project in a given amount of time. For simplicity, say your boss has appointed one person to be the "leader", charged with scheduling meetings and holding members accountable to the work they say they will do.

As time goes on, this "leader" is often late to meetings or doesn't show at all. This leader often forgets his duties and brings nothing of value to the meetings. This so-called leader is not being responsible, and the group is suffering. You are no closer to your goal then the day the group was formed.

This appointed leader is not showing leadership because he or she is not being responsible. Why should anyone else show up on time or complete what they said they were going to if the leader doesn't do the same? Change starts with you setting the example of responsibility.

Whether you are in the office, on the assembly line, or at home, being responsible will change you and those around you. It will make life better because it makes life easier. Just imagine how much better your life would be if every person who made a commitment to you, followed through on that commitment.

To end and to drive this point home, we will get a little meta. The next time someone breaks a promise or cancels a meeting, accept it for what it is: a lack of responsibility. Then, when it's your turn to keep a commitment, keep it. Don't be petty by saying "Well they did it to me, why can't I do it to them?". A cancellation for a cancellation makes the whole world uninformed.

Lead by example by taking ownership of your commitments and seeing them through to the end. People will respect your responsibility and return it in kind.

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