This piece is part of the Letters to My First-Year Self series in which students (current or past) look back on their first year here at Rutgers and give advice to their former selves. We are looking for contributions to this series; so if you’d like to participate, please send your reflection to I Am Rutgers via the Contribute tab at the top of this site!
Dear First-Year Me,
Hey, it’s your senior year self! First things first, I need to congratulate you. You made it through high school and you’re entering a new chapter in your life. Now I know you have a lot of uncertainties about this “college life” thing, but don’t worry! I’m here to help you out!
Be yourself and grow into it
This was really difficult in the beginning. You came from a small school and stayed true to yourself and a few select people. You weren’t really sure who you were as a person. College is the place where you find that out. From your experiences inside and outside the classroom, you find out what is right for you. Even with friends and roommates, you learn what kind of a person you are, and more importantly, the kind of person you want to be. It is because of all this that I am able to write to you today, so be sure to find the value in everything because it’ll only bring you one step closer. Also, please know that you don’t need to have all the answers right now. Take time to explore and really find yourself because nothing is set in stone.
Go outside your comfort zone
This was also something you had trouble with. You wanted to stay in your little bubble and I understand, because it’s a safe place! But there’s a lot outside of the bubble. Some of the best times you had were because you decided to do something different. Go watch that midnight showing of that movie. Grab that late night coffee downtown with your friends. Try out for that new dance troupe. Whatever may be new and different, if you’re interested in it, at least give it a try! You may just enjoy yourself and find something you like.
Go after what you want
You know that passion and doing the things you love are important. As an adult, you have the option of pursuing what you want. You are creating your future, so make sure you love it. No one can say what’s best for you. It’s your life and you have to live it. Whether it means taking up a credit intensive major or applying to be a student group leader, go for it! Very rarely are things going to be handed to you and I’ll admit there are challenges ahead of you. But you have to decide how bad you want it. You are strong enough to take a stand and fight for what you want. Persistence is key.
Stay positive and determined
It’s easy to lose your focus, especially when you don’t do as well as you had hoped. Everyone goes through those disappointments and it’s okay. You’re not perfect and there’s no need to compare yourself to others. All you have to worry about is yourself since your college experience is about you. Just make sure to keep trying and if anything, reach out to people. Yes it may seem a little counterintuitive, especially if you don’t want people to know you’re struggling, but it really helps! Stay positive! While it’s okay to be sad, don’t let it consume you. Instead, use that energy to work harder and smarter towards your goal. You can do it!
Yes I know you have a lot of responsibilities. Classes can be tough and figuring out how to balance them all comes with time. But remember that college is not all about academics. Make sure you take the time to have fun while you’re here! There are so many different things to do on campus and even in the dorm. Make sure you get the full college experience. After all, you only have this chance for a few short years so make the most of it!
Now go on and be that awesome first-year student! I’ll see you sooner than you think!
Your senior year self