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.