If you're reading this, I'm assuming you are going to The College of New Jersey, so first of all, congrats on graduating high school and starting college! You've totally got this whole college thing down and you are going to have a great time at a great school with great friends, but here are a few tips on how to make this the best year ever.
1. Welcome Week.
They tell you it will be fun, and it is, kind of. The weather in late August/early September is super hot, so you will sweat. Remember to wear comfortable and breezy clothes so you don’t pass out from heat stroke. Also, you will do a ton of walking all over campus. I took 20,000 steps in one day alone, so wear comfortable shoes. Welcome Week is your time to meet new people and possibly find your new friends, so put yourself out there and have fun but also don’t get super hung up on trying to meet your new best friends for life, because that may not happen right away. Overall, this is the week to come out of your shell a little and interact with people on your floor, as well as people from your entire class. A little warning though, there will be a LOT of icebreakers, so just try to roll with the punches and survive the week!
2. Use meal equivalency.
Meal equivalency is going to be your best friend at TCNJ. It may seem confusing at first, but believe me, by October it will come as second nature. So basically, meal equiv is when you buy $7.76 (points) worth of food at any place on campus from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. instead of getting lunch at Eick, just by swiping your card. This means that you can go to Lion’s Den, Traditions, The Library Cafe, The Education Cafe or the Convenience Store and get food that is way better than food from the dining hall, while also not spending any points (unless you go over the $7.76 limit, of course).
3. Learn the abbreviations.
So, it may be weird, but at TCNJ we are lazy and use a ton of abbreviations when talking about random places on campus. For example, instead of calling the dining hall Eickhoff Hall, we say we are going to “Eick.” We also call The Library Cafe the “Lib Caf,” and the library is referred to as the “Lib.” Also, the Convenience Store is known as the C-Store and Brower Student Center is called “the STUD.” New Residence Hall is called “New Res” and the upperclassman dorms Hausdoerffer & Phelps Hall are just known as “Haus and Phelps.” It is definitely good to know these terms before starting your freshman year because it may help you decipher what upperclassmen are talking about in your first few weeks.
4. Add TCNJ.snap.
It's kind of the Swiss army knife of social media for TCNJ students. It’s the place where you can find your lost keys or ID, buy textbooks from people on campus, ask questions (and hopefully get answers) and also find out what is going on around campus during the weekend. Having TCNJ.snap as a friend on Snapchat is super useful and also pretty funny sometimes. It is also an easy and quick way to keep in touch with what is happening on campus.
5. Get to the Lib early during finals.
This is the only way you will get a study room, which are very hard to come by in general, but pretty much impossible to get during finals week. For me personally, I study better when I’m in a study room with some friends to keep me motivated, so getting to the library earlier during the insane week that is finals is a must for me. It also means you can play your music out loud and jam instead of having a mental breakdown, which is always a plus.
6. Manage your points.
(When you have points.)
(When you don't have points.)
I was not very good at this, but it super important to do this so you don’t starve at the end of the semester (because believe me, you won’t want to go to Eick). Also, this is mainly for people living in the towers, but don’t spend all of your points at T-dubs, because as tempting as it may sound, you won’t have any points left by November.
7. Don’t leave your detergent in the laundry room.
(Me @ whoever stole my detergent.)
Because someone will steal it. It may seem like common sense to not leave things in the laundry room, but I wasn’t thinking one day and someone stole my Tide Pods. Always remember to take your detergent and anything else you use for laundry back to your room.
8. Go to the gym.
It’s free, so take advantage of it! It may be a little bit of a walk from the freshman dorms, but believe me, it will make you feel better, stronger and more motivated throughout your day. Also, like I said, it’s free (so you’d be crazy if you didn’t go)!
9. Use rate my professor.
(This may happen if you don't use Rate My Professors.)
It will be your best friend when choosing classes each semester. Going on the website and searching certain professors' names can really help you make the best schedule for you and get the most out of your classes. Also, don’t forget to ask around about professors, or even ask questions on the various social media sites we have!
10. Don’t miss your CEL day.
(When you realize today is your CEL day.)
It fills a mandatory liberal learning requirement. CEL days are assigned through your FSP class, and usually your whole class will spend a day giving back to the neighboring community. You really don’t want to miss this day because it can be somewhat annoying to try and reschedule (although it can be done if you absolutely cannot go).
11. Get involved, but not too involved.
You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. It is so important to get involved on campus in order to have a well-rounded and fulfilling experience, however, joining too many clubs and extracurriculars can be a little stressful in your first year.
And last but certainly not least…
12. Have a great freshman year!
You got this! Go forth and conquer your first year of college, future lion!
Lead Image Credit: Emma Lamperti