Not even a week of college has gone by, and I’ve already picked up a few lessons to help me for the long run.
College is so different from high school.
Though I knew that big changes were coming, it wasn’t until I completed my first day that I realized how true this was! It was weird getting used to the fact that there are no bells, no lockers, no guidance counselors, and no one running at the back of me telling me that I need to go to class. In high school, everything is small- the building, the classrooms, your class size etc. In college, however, everything is huge! You lose that sense of familiarity and routine. Instead, you have classes all over the campus, classes so large that it seems impossible to get to know people, and teachers not forcing you to do things. You don’t feel the pressure anymore because no one is placing any expectations on you. The consequences of missing class and not doing your work aren’t immediate. Professors want you to succeed, but they will give you their undivided attention. In other words, everything is up to you. You are in control of everything, and that’s a big change!
Friends don’t seem to be a priority anymore.
While maintaining friendships seemed extremely important in high school, that is not the case in college. Chances are that your friend group will split apart and not end up in the same college. The transition can be difficult, and there may be moments when you feel lonely and incomplete. But, remember that college is a big place. Knowing that I am just one of thousands of students walking around, going to classes, and living my life is somewhat comforting to me. Feeling invisible in a crowd lets me be independent and do whatever I want to do. I am also more open to meeting new people and making friends along the way. Even though I may never run into them again, it strangely feels okay for now. I’ve heard the best way to make friends in college is through extracurriculars, so I am excited to get involved!
The dreaded bus system is not-so-dreadful.
Changing buses and finding bus stops at Rutgers seemed terrifying at first. I was more nervous about catching the right bus than attending my first class. Once I got to a bus stop on my first day, I realized just how easy it actually was. The Rutgers app lists all bus routes, nearby bus stops and bus times. Make sure your phone is always charged because you will use Maps constantly! Buses may be packed and you may find yourself lost around campus, but don’t panic! People are extremely nice and ready to help, so you can ask for help whenever you need it.
Changing classes is a piece of cake!
When I got my schedule, I was confused and unhappy. Some classes and timings that I wanted were not given to me. I was paranoid and felt that I would not get my desired schedule. To my surprise, changing classes was extremely easy! During add/drop week, I just had to find open slots for courses and sections that I wanted, and change my schedule online. It was surprising how I could simply change my classes around with a click of a button, and boom! If I was not happy after attending a class, I could immediately change it. A convenient tool called Course Sniper notifies you when a certain course/section opens up. Advisors use our preferences and prerequisites to design an appropriate schedule for us. Even if things do not work in your favor, it is important to remember that this schedule is only for a semester!
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed.
There are so many opportunities at college: clubs, organizations, events, jobs, internships, research, and the list goes on! After the involvement fair, I was a bit overwhelmed by everything that I wanted to do. Personally, I decided that it was best to take it easy first semester and join one or two clubs. Keeping everything organized is important, otherwise, it is very hard to keep track. I’ve never been an avid calendar user, but now, I cannot survive without my calendar. It makes my life so easy to navigate. I love seeing a busy calendar! I realized that I needed an app for homework assignments and tests because it is so easy to forget tasks without noting them down. Especially in college, when each day’s schedule is different, due dates are distant and there’s usually a 2-3 day break between classes of a specific course, a homework app is a life saver! I use IStudiez on my Mac- I can upload my entire schedule and note down assignments in class. In the end, it is important to stay calm, meditate if necessary and enjoy college!
It’s only been 5 days, and I’m starting to feel as if I have college all figured out. I probably have far more to learn, but it’s a relief to feel comfortable in this huge place.