♪ ♫ We’re Going-Going, Back-Back, to College-College ♪ ♫
For over two weeks, I’ve been walking the streets of Rutgers University. I am typically surrounded by a variety of students. Some of them are at bars, several are moving into their dorms, and only few are with me in coffee shops. Many of them, like me, are college graduates who have worked at full-time jobs. Naturally, I started conversations with them. They typically brought up their fond memories as undergrads and how they could have made it more fun & meaningful. Therefore, I compiled a list of things that I would’ve done if I were starting freshman year tomorrow.
1. Get involved, but do it early. I’ve been nicknamed “Van Wilder” during my junior & (super) senior years. One of my friends asked me how I knew so many people. I always answered by saying, “join a lotta clubs.” I was involved in over fifteen clubs during my time as an undergraduate. However, I was only devoted to three of these clubs. It was those three clubs that rewarded me with quality friendships and positive growth. Therefore, my method of finding the right organization is to go for quantity during freshman year. Then, one can begin to discern which groups best help you become a better person. (For example, if you’re a social butterfly, I would probably lean more towards leadership clubs instead of say, the Organic Chemistry Society.)
2. Cook more, and stop eating out like a native New Yorker. My daily staples consisted of bagels, falafel, and pizza. Let’s break that down: Bagel ($3), falafel ($3.50), and pizza ($4). $10.50 x 7 = more than $70 per week. That amount can buy you a pair of cashmere socks! In response, I tapped into my inner Mario Batali and I began to cook my own meals. I usually prepare dishes that included spinach, lentils, and sweet potatoes. They’re all cheap and potentially flavorful. I save about $50 each week as a result. One can buy a gym membership with that money.
3. Register for “Intro” classes. I came to Rutgers majoring in nutrition. It was all math and science; I despised it. After one year of algebraic torture, I decided to make a change. I signed up for a variety of new courses: psychology, sociology, journalism, and human resource management. (Now, aren’t these the epitomes of math & science?) Had I taken these classes in my freshman year, I would’ve saved a lot of time and tuition costs!
4. Schedule your time off and go outside. For people like me, studying for long periods of time can become draining. It can be a relief to escape from schoolwork once in a while. Many people like to schedule meetings and classes, but not everyone considers planning their free periods. Remember recess? Imagine how restless a third-grader can get after four straight hours of academics. Attention span, gone.
5. To worry about what other people are doing can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s natural to feel like you need to “catch up” because everyone may be one step closer to graduation than you are. It is alright to step out of your comfort zone. You will have more than enough time to become successful after college. It would be prudent to understand that college itself is a growth experience.
Other Tips from successful college students:
“Treat school as you would a job. Work 9-5. Enjoy the rest of your [free] time.
-Azeem Khan, co-founder of Supshot, Boston University
“Unlearn everything your parents, teachers, and society have conditioned you into thinking about getting a job and making money. Find your passion, and love for your own happiness.”
-Chas Makkaraeng, Founder of CrossFit Fightworx New Jersey, Rutgers University-Newark
“Establish really strong friendships with people at your school. [It’s] never too early to start your networking.”
-Camille Salazar, Student and Author of Secret Garden, University of Dallas
Everyone has their own experiences, whether they went to college or not.
What advice will you give your previous self?