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As I stumble into my third year of university, I can’t help but reminisce on the beginning of my time as a college student. Although my college days didn’t start at Rutgers, there are quite a few things that I wish I knew as I entered my freshman year. I was told that these years would be some of the greatest of my life and that I needed to take this time to have fun and live while I’m young. Whilst I can somewhat agree with that advice, I wish someone prepared me with the reality of how challenging university can be and taught me how to face those challenges accordingly. Here are some of the many things that I wish I knew as a freshman:

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

You never really know what is going on in someone’s life until you walk in their shoes. Just because that one person in your statistics class seems to always come to class confident, prepared and ridiculously organized, that does not mean that they are more intelligent and a better student. Everyone is running a different race and we all have different goals that we would like to achieve. The next time you think that the person sitting next to you has it all, remember to focus on yourself and what you would like to accomplish with the tools you have.

Take Your Time

While there are so many exciting opportunities that come your way the minute you step on campus as a bumbling freshman, keep this in mind: you don’t have to do it all right now. Don’t try to fit every extracurricular along with your classes, assignments and free time into one schedule. Take this time to settle in and organize yourself. This is a completely new experience that has so many things to do, people to meet, and places to see! Do not overwhelm yourself with activities that don’t leave you any time to rest and relax. You don’t have to do it all in four years, either. Take your time!

Put Yourself First

As you begin your journey into the world of university, it can be easy to get wrapped into all the novelties that come with starting college. You meet new people, join clubs, take interesting classes, and gain some much needed independence. While it is indeed important to revel in these things, don’t forget to give yourself the space you need to grow. College can be scary! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Chances are, so many other people are feeling exactly the same way and are not sure how to handle these newfound fears and struggles. Take some time out of your day to take a break from it all so that you’re not feeling so swamped.

Everything Will Be Okay

There will be times where you feel lost. Discouraged. Dismayed. Pessimistic. There will be days where you feel behind on your classes and as if you’re drowning in all your responsibilities. It is so important to remind yourself that everything will in fact be okay. Unsure about your major? It is 100% okay to change your mind about a prospective career. Feeling behind in your classes? You are more than capable of excelling in all of your classes, you just have to get back on your feet! In college, you will be hit with more obstacles than you thought you could manage. But you take it day by day and allow things to fall into place. Everything will be okay and tomorrow is a new day.

During times like these, it is especially hard for new students to navigate their way through the ups and downs of university. With a determined mind, a strong soul, and some iced coffee, I promise you that you can tackle any and every obstacle that you may face in the up and coming years as a college student.

To keep updated about staying safe during the pandemic, be sure to read advice from both the CDC and the WHO.



Élise Breton-Jones is a junior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick pursuing a degree in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Sociology. Born and raised in London, she adores travelling, working with animals and finding new spots to eat in New York City that accompany her vegan diet. Her passions involve - but are certainly not limited to - social justice, boba and browsing Twitter.
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