My journey through the nebulous cacophony (to quote the University’s previous president John Sexton) that is NYU, has not been an unmarked one sprinkled with full nights of deep sleep, free days to catch up on all the tv shows my friends are talking about, and spare time to sip on a pour-over latte prepared by a good friend: in short, I’ve been busy.
The beauty of NYU lies not in its professors who have collectively completed multiple EGOTs, it’s famous park, or its relation to Anna-Sophia Robb and other names, but how you (and transitively I) take advantage of those things. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with academic advisors from multiple schools (shout-out to cross-school advising in the Academic Resource Center), do research in Spain, and hold multiple on-campus positions. The most important of these two have been my Resident Assistant position in Lipton Residence Hall (*ahem* the best hall *ahem*) and being a Supervisor for the Admissions Ambassadors (the ones who gives tours!!!). Through these two, I’ve seen not only my residents, but my fellow ambassadors who were in some of the same predicaments that I’ve been in, experience some of the same struggles that I’ve gone through. Over time, I’ve noticed myself saying some of the same things, so I figured, in the traditional style of mentorship, to pass some of those ideas along.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Talk it Out – One of the biggest things that I wish I’d done more in my first two years, is surround myself with people who plug the Platonic method to try and get me to figure out how I’m actually feeling. This has been key in allowing me to internally transfer, knowing where to make cutbacks in my academic career (I was a triple-major at one point lol), and maintaining some sense of normalcy. If something’s bothering you, go to your friends, go to your advisor, go to your boss (if you have that kind of relationship), and try to talk out exactly how you’re feeling to best engage yourself.
- Challenge Yourself – If you’re sure that you can get good grades taking 14 credits, take 16, if 16, take 18. If you’re comfortable and doing well, add something on or change something up; use this time as a way to push your boundaries with a safety net backing you up. Even though college is more of the real world than high school is–and you’ll have safety nets to protect you in the professional world–don’t forget that college, and especially NYU, is a space where you can push yourself. With that said, make sure you also use it as a time to find balance, if you’re someone who’s used to doing a lot. Challenge yourself by giving yourself an easy semester, and take time for yourself that you don’t usually spend just catching up on sleep. Explore NYC and do some of the things that have always been on your list to do.
- Take Opportunities You’re Unsure About – Even if you’re only 50% sure that you might want to do something, it’s easier to say no than to never know if you would’ve been able to do something. There are tons of opportunities that I wish I had taken my first two years that I simply didn’t, because I didn’t believe myself to be a good enough candidate, didn’t think that I had the time, or whatever reason that seemed to be holding me back. Now, after a year of finally being able to apply for things and let go, the loss or rejection still stings, but I’ve learned how to channel that into a drive, a passion, and a internal fuel to keep trying.
- Be a Nerd – I say this to everyone, honestly. My friends and I have diverse and varied interests; that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate them and celebrate their learning processes and passions. That’s to say, get into something, be in it with your whole heart, and don’t ever let someone tell you that it’s not good enough or not interesting enough. If there is some reason that you are unable to totally switch or something prohibits you from studying what you want to as a major, learn how to play the system–study the business of the art industry, use your degree in film to tell multilingual and multicultural narratives, approach your percussion lessons thinking about the mathematical form that builds music. Don’t give up, and don’t let anyone tell you that what you study and what you like isn’t interesting. Don’t let someone put out your fire.
I see these falterings in my residents, the same way that I look back and see them in myself. From a 3rd-year, over-involved, underslept student to a prospective, potentially scared high school applicant (me four years ago), don’t be afraid to take NYU by the horns (i.e., take control and make it yours).