Students wearing NYU Violet posing for a selfie.

When I was a first year, seniors would tell me that college goes by so fast. I didn’t believe them.

Now as an NYU graduate, I can say with confidence that college goes by quickly! In such a short time, I became an Admissions Ambassador, wrote my first TV pilot, finished three internships (one of them being with Disney), became fluent in some coding languages, made a bunch of friends, and so much more! It’s hard to believe how much I’ve accomplished! I’d like to share how I was able to make the most of my time here as well as some things I regret not doing.

Hopefully this advice will help as you start your own college journey.



Advice #1: Set Goals

If you’re as type A as I am, I make lists for everything! So, when I got into college, I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish. It was a great reminder of what I was working toward, especially on challenging days. It’s also great because it helps me identify what I want to try next or what to prioritize.

My goals were super vague so believe me— your goals can be anything!

Advice #2: Try Something New!

I think this is incredibly common advice, but also easier said than done. Trust me, I know!

During my sophomore, I developed a curiosity for programming. At the time, there was so much hype around working in tech. To be honest, I wanted to know what that was about but was afraid to take computer science classes. I was worried about not fitting in and being a woman of color with no coding experience. Still, I talked myself into taking my first web development class.

It was challenging but so much fun! From then on, I loved using my creativity and skills to make really cool projects. I also found other women of color who I could work with.

If I hadn’t taken the risk, I wouldn’t have learned to code. What’s more, I wouldn’t have made the friends that I did.

Advice #3: Find Outlets for Your Passions

Sam posing with friends.

College is one of the few places where you’ll have easy access to sharing and fine-tuning your talents. I didn’t realize this as a first-year student, but you ever know which of your talents will open doors for you in the future.

I used to give campus tours of my high school and I knew I wanted to find some sort of public speaking outlet when I came to campus. So, I became an Admissions Ambassador. I also love content creation and it’s something that I’ve done for myself for years. So, when I had the opportunity to become a Digital Ambassador, I jumped at the opportunity!

With these experiences, I’ve honed in on my public speaking skills, which have helped me a ton with job interviews. I love that I’ve developed this little superpower I can use and I’m incredibly grateful for the Admissions Ambassador role for that.

Even though I was able to accomplish so much, I regret not joining more clubs. For example, I loved singing in high school! I wish I had gotten involved in an a cappella group during my time here. But it’s small regrets like these that make me so adamant about this point! Take my advice: pursue things you’re interested in!


Advice #4: Study Away!

A skyline shot of Sydney featuring a bridge and a large body of water.

Seriously, study away when you get the chance! I didn’t get the chance to study away mainly due to my schedule and lack of planning on my end. But I’ve heard such great things from people who did study away. The classes are generally flexible so you’re able to travel around your study away site and NYU makes it incredibly easy to study away more than once!

Advice #5: Work Hard but Have Fun!

Sam and a friend pose for the camera outside with masks on.

Throughout college I struggled to balance everything in my life—academics, work, and social life. Obviously work hard and maximize all the resources here, but don’t forget to take care of yourself and have a bit of fun!

Go see a bunch of Broadway shows, try all the cafes and restaurants you can, go to concerts, go watch a comedy! If you’re into fitness, run that 5K! There’s so much to do in New York City, so don’t be afraid to explore. The city is your campus, and you’ll always have NYU to call home.

Parting Advice

The key to maximizing your time at NYU is to do what you love and explore what you’re curious about.

It’s as simple as that!

It’s a bittersweet feeling to reflect back on all my goals because I remember how nervous I was about starting college. I wanted to “do college the right way.” It’s why I set goals in the first place. Looking back at the last four years, I’ve met other passionate and talented people, I’ve received opportunities that I never thought I could do, and I’ve grown into a more confident person. 

I don’t know if I did college “the right way,” but I did it my way. And I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. 

A large group of students posed in front of an NYU building.

Sam Whitley (she/her) is a senior studying Dramatic Writing at Tisch School of the Arts with minors in Computer Science and Integrated Design & Media. Whether she’s developing a website or writing a TV pilot, Sam aims to create things that help make life easier for people. Outside of class, she’s rewatching her favorite animated TV shows, hitting the gym, and taking the LIRR home to visit friends and family. Despite her introverted nature, she loves meeting new people while working as an Admissions Ambassador and exploring NYC!