Imagine this: you open TikTok and this @MeetNYU video is the first one on your FYP. The text on the video reads, “Realizing next semester is my last semester at NYU” while the audio utters, “Screaming, crying.” I am having a mild existential crisis. How has time flown by so fast? I remember my first Welcome Week as if it happened yesterday.
Upon this realization, I reflected on my four years here at NYU and all that I have done, all the people I’ve met, all the classes I have taken. I thought of my first year when I moved all the way across the Atlantic to the big New York City. I wouldn’t trade my NYU experience for anything else. Yet, a voice in the back of my head still wonders what I would have done differently. Or, things I wished I would have been told earlier. Would some senior advice back then have made me a different person?
I wouldn’t be here right now writing this blog if it weren’t for all the things I have done at NYU. I want to give back to you, as a senior, the things I wish I knew my first year. And so, while you have heard me blabber the same advice on my Instagram takeovers, I wanted to switch it up. Who could give better senior advice than the wonderful people I have met along the way? So, please enjoy the following pearls of wisdom from none other than five current seniors reflecting on their last year here.
Sanjana (College of Arts and Science)
“Before my first year at NYU, I wish I knew it’s OK to take your time figuring things out. Everyone has their own personal and professional timeline.
“Coming from high school where, for many of us, our days were pretty structured, it can be confusing to be in charge of your own time. And seeing people around you, who may have a better idea of what they want to do career-wise, following a timeline that might be faster than yours, can be disconcerting. At least I felt like I was falling behind several times during my college career when I looked around.
“‘Slow down,’ was the best advice I got during my time at NYU. College is possibly the best time to explore your options and learn about yourself —your interests, your hobbies, your likes, your dislikes—both professionally and personally. The more options you explore, the more likely you are to be sure of the path you’re following. And remember, everyone’s timeline will look different!
“In the end, all you can do is keep at it and do your best. So just take a breath, take your time, and trust that things will work out!”
Anisha (Stern School of Business)
“If I were to give some senior advice to first years, I would tell them to make sure they are true to themselves as they navigate their college career. There are a ton of classes available at NYU centered on gaining technical skills for work. However, these are all skills that you can learn on the job. I recommend that first-year students take courses that challenge their perspective and give them a unique outlook on the world. Being able to formulate your own opinion and perspective will bring you much more value as you navigate your life in the real world.”
Leo (Silver School of Social Work)
“You have time. If you feel like you are behind everyone else in whatever it is you’re worrying about, you have time. You will always be meeting new people, learning and trying new things, and growing into yourself. So don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re going to major in, if you haven’t found your group of friends quite yet, or if you don’t know what kind of career you want. Take that elective you want to take or go to that club meeting you’re interested in. If you like it, great! And if you don’t, you still learned something about yourself and don’t have to commit to it. I wish I had explored more earlier in college and learned more about the things I don’t like instead of being nervous about finding the things I did.”
Lily (College of Arts and Science)
“Take time to choose and enjoy your core classes. If you do research on the professor and their teaching style and choose a topic you’re actually interested in, you’ll learn a lot and enjoy it more. I legitimately loved all my core classes and they changed my point of view.
“It’s completely normal to feel lonely during your first, second, any year really! Making friends is always hard. Compounded with COVID-19 and the city, it’s even harder! Once you realize you’re not alone in feeling lonely, it’s a lot easier to handle. And you’ll enjoy the little things in your day or unique bits of the city more once you get comfortable spending time by yourself and exploring on your own terms.
“Don’t let your preconceived notions of what you should be doing in college limit you. I came in as a prehealth student, thinking I had to be on that track. I spent years resisting the path that I felt called to. As soon as I finally gave into what I was meant to do, everything in my life seemed to align. I became much happier! Explore the possibilities but don’t ignore your intuition or gut feeling if something really feels meant for you. 🙂
“Also on the topic of loneliness, it’s better to take some space than remain stuck in friendships that are harmful to you. Everyone eventually reaches a point of disillusionment with the friends they made early on. It’s totally normal to start all your friendships over again a month into your first year. You’re not alone in wanting to leave your Welcome Week group!”
Caitlin (Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development)
“NYU is a big school, and finding your social stride can be really difficult when you’re first starting out. My senior advice? Focusing on the relationships that bring you real joy will lead you in the right direction. In my experience, I’ve found keeping a small circle of people who make me genuinely happy the most fulfilling. Also, know that it’s OK for your circle to change as you change. It’s OK for friendships to end when they no longer bring you happiness and joy. You’re not here to please everyone. You’re here to make the most of these four years. In fact, I believe the quality of your relationships can make or break this whole experience. So pay attention to the people who show up for you, uplift you, and inspire you. They will be what you remember most.”
While it would have been nice to have younger Neyl listen to all the above senior advice, older Neyl sits at the desk writing this, content with how things have worked out. The NYU magic has blessed me and many others with one of the greatest experiences ever. I hope and wish that you can take and apply this advice anywhere you go. If you are a current first year reading this right now, I hope this grants you some sort of relief and guidance on how wonderful the NYU magic is.