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Advice I would have given to my first-year self

Starting college can feel both exciting and overwhelming, but you certainly don't have to struggle on your own. Your upperclass peers are here to help and show you the ropes. – Photo by Rutgers.edu

College: These next four years may be the best or worst years of your life. You’ll experience new memories, people from all over the world, new cultures and cultivate lifelong friendships. But you might also feel overwhelmed and want to crawl back into your little comfort bubble.

As someone who has been through it, I'm here to tell you that when you're away from family and friends, it’s normal to feel uprooted and out of place when you first get to Rutgers.

To any first-years reading this, here’s some advice I wish I knew when I first started my college career:

Call home 

When I was in my first year, I was wrapped up in clubs, activities and my boyfriend from home. I didn’t call home that often, and it was hard because I did miss my family.

Although I did go home every now and then, it was hard to do so, as the commute was nearly two hours, and my classes were time consuming. But despite this, my family continued to be the people that I turned to when I had an issue or when I needed to solve a problem.

So keep that relationship with them going. It helps when you’re feeling down or need to create a boundary. They can give you advice and really help you out for the better. Remember, they’ve been there. They’ve probably gone through more experiences than you have and can probably get you out of a tough spot.

Don’t get a credit card right away 

At Rutgers, there are so many restaurants and cafes to choose from that you may end up wanting to eat at those places because they are more appealing than the dining hall.

But it’s just not worth it, especially if you are a first-year student, as you probably don’t even have a job yet. So, make a monthly budget. Use cash when you can, so you don’t waste your time worrying about if you’ll have enough money to pay bills on time.

Try new things 

Trying new things can really help you branch out and spread your wings because it can give you so many new opportunities. There’s a lot that you can do once school starts, and it helps to have people in your corner when you are making new memories and experiencing college life.

Use a planner

Okay folks, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get a planner!

Planners saved my life during my virtual sophomore year when I scheduled back-to-back zoom meetings. Things tend to slip your mind, so it’s always good to have one to stay organized. It can help with time management, as well.

Life can be really stressful, especially college life. But, if you keep your head high, you will get through it and make memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. It continues to be hard, especially with the new responsibilities. Pace yourself, and you will thrive!


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