10 Things I Learned from My First Semester of College

I still cannot believe I finished (or got through, however you want to see it) my first semester of college.  I also cannot believe I have to do this seven more times to earn my bachelor’s degree, but that’s an idea I’d rather not dwell on right now. In all seriousness, this semester taught me so many things about grades, college life, independence, and most importantly, myself. As per tradition, here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from my first semester of college.

1. Budgeting my meal swipes and my money in general

Now just to clarify, I was never a big spender, or the type to blow money. But college is a place of freedom and with great freedom comes great responsibility. Budgeting my cash and my meals really helped me understand what it feels like to be responsible for myself.

2. Setting multiple alarms, and setting them at least half an hour earlier than when I actually need to be up

If you think college means sleeping in, think again. Regardless of when your first class begins, you will almost surely be sleep deprived. I learned that the best way to wake up is to set many alarms, and to set them much earlier than when you actually need to be awake. Take it from me, getting from your dorm on Busch to class on Douglass in 10 minutes is neither easy, nor possible.

3. Going in for office hours

Office hours exist for a reason, and I learned a little too recently of how helpful they are. There’s nothing wrong in needing help, but there is something wrong in being too lazy or too shy to ask for it. Professors actually don’t bite, I promise.

4. Actually sticking to those lofty to-do lists

I’d say I’m a pretty proactive person, and I’ve always been the type to make to-do lists. But sticking to them? That’s a whole different story. If you make to-do lists, make sure you also follow them, because not only should you learn to plan, but you should also plan to learn.

5. Calling my parents even when I don’t need money or permission for something

Your parents care about you, and are actually interested in hearing about your life, even if you’re not that interested in hearing about theirs. Learn to talk to your parents even when you don’t need more money on RU Express, or permission to go to that Weeknd concert. A phone call takes not even 5 minutes, but does wonders for your loved ones at home.

6. Walking to or from class, even when taking the bus seems really tempting

If the weather is nice, and your feet don’t feel like they’re about to fall off, just walk to class. You’ll save time not waiting at bus stops, and you’ll avoid that freshman 15 you know your grandma will surely point out during break.

7. Always carrying my charger and my laptop

In college, plans change, and to be really equipped to handle these change of plans, carrying your phone charger and your laptop is a must. When I started taking an extra minute to pack these things, I ended up saving minutes and even hours going back to my dorm.

8. Making an Uber account

Things happen in college, and emergencies, though avoidable, are a part of life. If you don’t have a car on campus, it’s a great idea to make an Uber account for such events. Even if you have a definite method of transportation to or from an event, having an Uber account will never hurt.

9. Being aware of my surroundings

As college students, we tend to get soaked in the college bubble that is our dorms, our friends, and our classes. Watching the news, talking to family and friends outside of school, and reading articles keeps you more aware of the world that extends past Rutgers.

10. Being aware of myself

My first semester of college taught me the importance of being aware of myself and my needs. Stress, pressure, and distractions are a part of college life, so take the time out of your day or week to unwind and listen to your own needs. College is temporary, but your satisfaction and mental health are forever.

I look forward to my second semester and to making more of these lists. Happy Holidays, Rutgers. I cannot wait to see what the year ahead brings.