The author her first year at NYU holding up a peace sign while hanging out with her friends.

My first week on campus…I became friends with some super cool people who ended up being my roommates sophomore year!

College advice for first years:
  • Many students work in college, which is a great opportunity to learn about money management skills. It is important to track your expenses and make conscious decisions about spending.
  • Receiving a bad grade is normal and part of the learning process. It is important to not be too hard on yourself and remember that college is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Prioritize “me time” once in a while to avoid burnout and maintain well-being.

The first year of college is filled with self-discovery, new experiences, and challenges to overcome. Reflecting on my journey so far, from a first year to a rising junior, I’ve gained valuable insights that have shaped my college experience. Though I still have many more lessons to learn and challenges to encounter, here are some of the most important things I’ve learned over the past two years. Any incoming college student searching the internet for college advice (like I once did) should keep on reading!

1. College is not just a time to get your degree; it’s also a time to learn important money management skills.

Kim Kardashian throwing money.

Many students work during their time in college, whether it is off campus or on. These positions offer students a valuable opportunity to learn about earning and budgeting their finances. For some students, college may be the first time they have a job. College presents a unique environment with different financial considerations even for students who worked in high school. When working, students can get a taste of financial independence and responsibility. It’s important to know how to budget when you start earning your own money!

You should track your expenses so that you develop a clear understanding of where your money is going. You should also be able to make conscious decisions about what you are spending your money on. When I first started working, I remember how exciting it was to earn my own money. However, I quickly realized the importance of budgeting. Although it can be tempting to splurge your whole paycheck, it’s important to spend your money responsibly.

Setting aside a certain portion of every paycheck in a savings account is one thing I started to do once I started working. That way, even if I did spend the rest of my paycheck on other things, I knew a portion of what I earned was still there. This habit is not only beneficial for your near-future self—it will serve you well in the long run. How? It establishes a foundation for a lifetime of healthy financial habits. For more college advice on money management, read “Budgeting in the City: A First Year’s Guide” by Neyl!

2. Getting your first bad grade is OK.

Experiencing a less-than-desirable grade for the first time in college can be disheartening. (I think we can all speak from experience.) It’s important to remind yourself that it is completely normal. It’s all part of the learning process. Obviously, you can expect the difficulty of tests and assignments in college to be more demanding than what you encountered in high school. If you get a grade you’re not happy with, don’t freak out! Although it can be easy to get discouraged after receiving a bad grade, it’s important to learn from these mistakes. Take it as an opportunity to take the time to learn how to study effectively and find out what study method works for you. It’s also important to not be too hard on yourself!

Don’t beat yourself up if you get a grade you weren’t expecting—remind yourself that college is a marathon, not a sprint. My biggest piece of advice? Make at least one friend in each class. That way, if you have any questions or need any help, you know you’ll have someone to rely on.

The author takes a selfie with her friend in the library, where they're studying for an exam.
Studying for an exam with a friend! It’s always great to have a study buddy.

3. Prioritize “me time” every once in a while.

In college, you’re constantly surrounded by people. No matter where you are, there’s always a constant buzz of activity. As important as it is to branch out of your comfort zone, it’s just as important to prioritize your “me time.” I believe everyone needs a little time for themselves every once in a while. If you want to spend your Friday night in and do something fun for yourself, then do it!

With that being said, it’s important to make time to do the things you love outside of school to avoid burning out. This is why it’s important to get those time management skills down. Then, even when the school work begins to pile up, you’ll still have time to do what you love. Whether it’s reading a book, watching an episode of a show, or going for a run. Everyone has different preferences for how they choose to spend their “me time,” and it’s essential to nurture your interests and individual needs. I tried setting aside Sundays every week to spend time alone, relax, and prepare for the upcoming week.

4. Self-discipline is a must!

College is super exciting. You get so much freedom, and sometimes, that amount of freedom can be overwhelming! As someone who lived with my parents and stayed in Maryland my whole life, I became used to a certain daily structure. This consisted of waking up at the same time, going to school, going to extracurriculars, coming home, and repeat. (I swear, my life was more interesting than I just made it sound!) My point is that I was used to that structure and by coming to college/moving away from home, I did a complete 180. The flexibility of choosing the time of my classes, being able to go wherever I want with no curfew at all, and everything being a subway ride away was something that I was not used to in high school.

However, with all this freedom comes the need for good self-discipline. There won’t be professors or parents chasing you down to submit an assignment or study for your next exam. It’s on you to manage your time effectively and prioritize your responsibilities. My advice is to develop a network of friends who share the same goals as you. This can inspire you and motivate you to stay on track.

Hi guys! My name is Hridayesha, and I am a junior at the Tandon School of Engineering studying Mechanical Engineering. I am originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland. I love immersing myself in the vibrant city and learning about the new cultures that the city has to offer. Outside of being an Admissions Ambassador, I am part of the Tandon Student Council as well. I enjoy meeting new people and trying out new eats around the city!