Summer is in full swing—which is a sure sign that it is about to end! This summer I have had a lot of time to reflect on all of the experiences I had my first year at RIT. In the past year I moved 1,424 miles from home, made a bunch of new friends, started a few new jobs, and even made the Dean’s List both semesters! College is different from anything you’ve ever experienced before. Here are some of the things I wish I knew before my first year as a college student at RIT:
1. You’re actually going to miss home.
You’re going to love your newfound freedom and the fact that you don’t have constant chores around the house… But you’re going to miss home after awhile. Nothing beats a home cooked meal, or a shower that is large enough to comfortably shave your legs… Believe me—the shaving struggle is so real.
2. Call your parents.
Going to college is a big change for you—but don’t forget about your parents! It’s a big change for them, too. Making time to call your mom or dad even once a week can really make their day.
3. Do a Pre-Orientation Program!
Since I was moving to Rochester from Texas (and I had never explored the RIT campus before), I decided to participate in the DiscoverRIT program the Orange and Brown Experience before normal orientation week. This was one of the best decisions I made all year! I made some long lasting friends, learned a lot about campus, and eventually ended up getting a job offer from one of the program advisors. There are tons of different pre-orientation programs—interactive adventures like biking, kayaking, or ones where you stay on campus. A major plus of pre-orientation is that you get to move in early (and pick the best side of the room)!
4. College is a chance to explore!
Maybe you’ve always had an interest in ballroom dance, you want to play in pep band, or you want to build a race car. RIT has over 300 clubs and organizations—make sure that you go to the club fair and find clubs that you are interested in. (A cautionary note, you won’t be able to do all of the clubs that interest you. Go to a meeting or two for clubs you are interested in and then decide which organization(s) you are the most passionate about!)
5. Seize opportunities.
Offered a unique job? Know a professor that’s doing research? Especially towards the end of your first year there will be lots of job or research opportunities that come up—talk to professors, faculty, or other students. It’s all about who you know!
6. Don’t bring too much stuff.
Especially as an art student, I accumulated A LOT over the year between my textbooks, drawing pads, markers, charcoals, paint, etc. Don’t bring more than you need your first year—if you decide not to bring something and decide you need it at a later time, you can always have it shipped to you. That is way better than having a lot of things that you don’t need in your room.
7. Bring extra toothbrushes.
You will make a trip to the bathroom with your caddy, and your toothbrush is going to fall on the floor. It’s bound to happen at least once. The most useful thing I was told to pack were a few extra toothbrushes. It’s super nice to be able to just throw away the one on the floor and start fresh—believe me.
8. You’re going to get a lot of free t-shirts.
I don’t even know why I bothered to bring t-shirts to school, because I have an entire drawer full of free RIT shirts I accumulated over the year. There are so many t-shirt dyeing events, giveaways, and prizes. You only need to pack a few.
9. Lanyards are great, but….
Lanyards are a great way to carry your keys around, but wearing it around your neck is a rookie mistake. It will easily let upperclassmen pick you out as campus’ “fresh meat”.
10. The freshman 15 is a real thing.
College comes with freedom, and this also means freedom to eat whatever you want all the time. Pizza and pasta from Gracie’s, ice cream from the Corner Store, and frozen hot chocolate from Midnight Oil every day may sound like a good idea right now—but your weight will not thank you by Christmas. You can also try going to the gym. Don’t let it intimidate you! You’re not restricted to the actual fitness center; play with a basketball or go for a swim. Physical activity in any capacity is great for you, and it can be a great stress reliever.
11. Figure out where your classrooms are before the first day.
This is pretty self explanatory—but if you have a class in Brown Hall, you will thank me for giving you this piece of advice now.
12. Find an organization system that works for you.
Everyone is different. Some people make lists, others only need to jot a few reminders. You’re going to want to have some way to keep everything straight, there are lots of little things to remember—and college professors aren’t as forgiving as high school teachers. I personally use Google calendar to plug in all of my meetings, and assignment due dates. That works great for me since I always have my phone—but it really depends on who you are as a person!
13. Hockey games—just go to one.
I had never gone to a hockey game before coming to RIT. Going to hockey games with my friends was definitely one of the highlights of my first year—I highly recommend that you go to AT LEAST one game! Plus, Polisseni is opening this year. The first women’s game is October 3rd and the first men’s game is October 4th. It’s going to be great!
14. The library has lots of awesome stuff.
The library is a great resource—it’s a shame if you don’t use it! There are great study spaces on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors, you can even rent a private study room. The library also has database subscriptions—for those art and design students out there, if you need help learning Photoshop or Illustrator for class, the library has Lynda.com subscriptions (this is absolutely great!!). Talk to the library about other resources they might have that could be of use to you!
15. You don’t have to stick with the schedule your advisor made for you.
I wish I had reviewed the classes I needed earlier my freshman year. Your advisors won’t always put you in classes you need (or wish) to take. I wish I had known that my AP Credits covered all of my liberal arts courses and that they had just selected a random one—review it, and meet with your advisor to double check. It’s better than taking a class you don’t need. If you get assigned to a 10am Saturday class, that’s also something that you’re allowed to switch out of. To change a class you can go into SIS and select one that is open or set up a “swap” if you want to go on a waitlist for a class that is already full. Just make sure that you don’t accidentally drop a class you need to take your first semester!
16. Yes, the bell tower is playing the Beatles right now...
…and it’s really awesome.
17. Everyone is going to make mistakes. That’s okay.
18. Re-read number 17.
19. Have fun!
College is a time to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, make new friends, and join awesome clubs. Make the most of it!
We can’t wait to see you on campus in less than a month. Let’s go Tigers!