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 Freshman Year Carly,
It’s been 4 long years since you became a student at Rutgers University- years filled with uncertainty, adventure, laughter, and growth. There are a few things I have learned in the last few years that I would like to share with you as you continue on this journey.
First things first,
Make your grades a priority but remember to have fun. You’re young, spend your nights laughing with friends and go on adventures at 3 am. College is a lot to handle, relax by having movie nights in your cramped dorm room. Live a little! I am aware that you have deadlines, classes, and Expository papers to write, and these are always important, but remember to enjoy yourself, because you’ll never be an 18-year-old freshman in college ever again. Sadly, you’re always going to have deadlines. Right now, though, you’re an 18-year-old freshman in college, enjoy your freedom.
There are going to be people you meet that will hurt you and disregard your feelings, but remember that the most essential thing is to take care of yourself, and remain strong despite what happens. There will be times that you want to just give up, and say “I’m dropping out”, because every college student has this moment in their college career, but remember that everything that is stressing you out is temporary and will pass.Your mental health and self-care should always be your priority. Without a healthy and positive mindset, you won’t achieve everything you want to, so treat yourself to that big meal, drink lots of water, and take a breather at the end of each day to collect your thoughts.
Budget, Budget, Budget!
Take it from your 21-year-old self, money is SO important. Even if it’s tempting, don’t spend money on the things you think you need. Being broke is never fun, especially when the time will come that you need money for something important, like car repairs or paying off those student loans. Make a savings account, and put some money aside each month to ensure that you will have money to get by when you graduate, it will help drastically in the long run. So save, save, save, and use your willpower to resist buying unnecessary things!
Focus on Yourself
With the many, many distractions that come with college, it can be a bit of a struggle to focus on the things that matter- like your schoolwork, jobs, and yourself. However, no matter what your friends are doing and where they are in the path of their careers, remember that the most important person to focus on is yourself. Focus on yourself and don’t worry about what others are doing. Looking at internships and getting involved in the Rutgers community is essential in meeting new people, finding your interests, and taking on a leadership role. Clubs, organizations, and internships through the university are all great ways to make connections and pursue your passions, so take advantage of them while you are here.
Coming into college as an undecided major can be quite stressful, as trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life is a major decision. Figuring out your major is going to take you some time, but I promise everything will work out in the end. Explore your passions by taking interesting classes and take advantage of all the new opportunities that exist here. Relax, your dreams and passions will come to you naturally through your journey.