INDEPENDENCE: there can be too much of a good thing
The biggest change would have to be the sudden increase in independence. The idea that with every meal swipe you have access to unlimited desserts and soda can be overwhelming at first. Usually in the beginning of the year, it’s especially hard to resist stuffing your face when your parents can no longer yell at you for eating ice cream for dinner. You also no longer have a bed time, or a set time you have to wake up at, since deciding if you’re going to class and when you’re going to class is completely your own decision. I’ve learned to never leave any assignment so last-minute that I have to pull an all-nighter, but I have a feeling I’m not quite done with those yet. But as crazy as things seem at the beginning of your first semester, things tend to settle down as the year comes to a close.
Finding what you like and what you don’t like
For your first year of college I would say the best thing is to get involved in everything you find interesting, because as the year goes by you can always drop what you don’t like and become more involved in the things you’re more interested in. I think sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re interested in and deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life can be difficult, so taking part in clubs and even just events around campus can open your eyes.
Bad Grades are Just a Part of Life
For me, I was very surprised by the whole basis behind the grading system and how most of my grade was the result of two or three exams. We had quarterlies in high school and the final grade was the cumulative of a year of tests, quizzes, and homework, so this new system was a little hard for me to get used to, and I got some grades my first year that I was not used to seeing. I think the biggest thing to remember is that the only thing you can do in the face of a bad grade is to just keep working to do better the next time, and to treat every semester as a fresh start, a new you, and a way to improve your study habits. See what worked the last time and what didn’t work, and make adjustments accordingly.
Friends are everywhere
In college, you tend to make friends in the weirdest places. I have made friends in the bathroom of my hall. Other friends, I’ve met while getting off at the wrong bus stop and wandering around trying to find my class. Others I’ve met while loudly complaining about a class only to have someone come over and say “same”. The truth is almost everyone is always trying to find new people and make new friends: all you have to do is open your eyes because potential friends are always milling around.
High school is ALL in the past
At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t get my fresh start because there were so many people from New Jersey and specifically, my high school, at Rutgers. But one thing I realized was that everyone comes into college with the same mindset and that everyone wants their fresh start. There are also around 30,000 undergraduates at Rutgers, so meeting new people is not an issue. So don’t worry about any remaining high school awkwardness or seeing the same people. Be the person you’ve always wanted to be!