Welcome to Rutgers (Out-of-State Edition)

Between the airfare, train fare, hotel costs for the night before, and the general logistical headache of figuring it all out, I was seriously beginning to question whether attending orientation was even worth it.

Sure, New Student Orientation comes highly recommended by school staff and upperclassmen alike (just check out some of the previous posts on this blog!). But when your travel time is five and a half hours, and you’re trying to fit four days’ clothing plus bedding plus toiletries in a single carry-on suitcase, suddenly the whole thing can seem overwhelming.

That’s not to say that the trip was a waste, of course! I had a great time and learned a lot at orientation: not just about Rutgers itself, but also the process of getting myself and all my stuff to campus – which will definitely come in handy when move-in day comes around in two months.

So I’m sharing some of the tips and tricks I picked up, and hopefully they’re helpful whether you’re planning for a school visit over break, your own orientation session, or move-in day.

  • Make an itinerary with as many details as possible. What time do you need to leave your house to make it to the airport (remember to allow for 2-3 hours before your actual flight)? How are you getting from the airport to your hotel/the school? If you’re taking the bus, at which stops are you getting on and off?
    • Whatever you can book in advance – flights, hotels, even train tickets – do it! It’ll be one less thing to worry about on the day of.
    • Have at least one backup plan. Things can go wrong with public transportation – trains, especially, can get delayed or derailed – so you’ll want to be prepared to call an Uber if you have to.
  • When possible, only pack a carry-on. You won’t have to deal with the whole bag-checking process, finding it at baggage claim, or worrying about it getting lost or damaged, which ultimately saves you a lot of time and stress. Plus, it limits the number of things you might accidentally lose or leave behind somewhere! (Obviously this doesn’t apply for times like move-in, when you’ll have a lot of necessary stuff you’re bringing with you, but it’s something to keep in mind for shorter trips – like orientation.)
    • Check out online resources, such as the orientation and housing websites, for specific items you’ll need but might not think of on your own: your RU ID number, for example, or shower shoes.
    • You’ll probably spend a good amount of time waiting at the airport or train station, so you may want to bring something to do – a book to read, or at least a portable charger for when your phone/tablet battery gets depleted from hours on Netflix.
  • You might feel out of place among your [future] classmates, and that’s okay. Most of the other students grew up here, so they’ve heard of and even visited each other’s hometowns/schools, attended day events at the university, etc. Just keep in mind that everyone else will be new too; even if they’re slightly more familiar with the locale, they’re starting out just the same as you are. Whatever reason brought you to Rutgers, it will be your home as much as your peers’ no matter where you’re from.

If I missed anything, or if you have any questions about anything I mentioned (or about the out-of-state-student experience in general), feel free to leave a comment!