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Surviving First Year: Advice from Returning Students

The beginning of the school year at NYU Tandon is fast approaching, which means many new faces will soon emerge on MetroTech Commons. Whether coming to Tandon is a big move or a short commute, you will feel at home thanks to the great community and support network here. The first year at a new school in a new city can be daunting for anyone, so eight returning students share their unique experiences and advice to help you thrive during your first year of college.

I started my first year in civil engineering with a limited background in math and science. Coming from an all-girls Catholic high school caused me to be intimidated by my peers, especially when hearing that many of them had come from technical high schools. This fear almost stopped me from pursuing  my bachelor's in chemical engineering. The most important thing I learned in my four years here is to never allow a fear or feeling of intimidation to prevent you from pursuing a goal. Do not be embarrassed to ask questions in and outside of class. Make use of the tutoring center and math workshops. The tutors there are fantastic, especially because they are also students and understand how to explain things on an introductory level.

— Marissa Albanese, BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Class of 2016 &
MS in Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2017

I'm from Hawaii and I really missed the ocean, but because the rivers here aren’t the same, I had to find something else that made me happy. There are so many other outlets like team sports, clubs inside and outside of NYU, festivals, and events occurring every day. But just because you can commit to twenty different things doesn’t mean you should. Pick a commitment because you love it and are really interested in it, and it will never feel like work.

— Bianca BattenBusiness Technology Management, Class of 2017

I have a “non-traditional” combination of my major, minors, and activities: I am a mechanical engineering major at Tandon working on a double minor in both psychology at CAS and dance at Tisch. At Tandon, it can be easy to limit yourself to only the classes, activities, and clubs in Brooklyn. While there are definitely great options here, if you are interested in anything that is not offered here, you should absolutely check out the Washington Square campus. NYU has an incredible variety of classes, clubs, and activities you can take advantage of, and it is great to be a part of the larger NYU community.

— Jennifer Hewitt, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2019

Often, just by talking to professors or others you can find ways to get involved. The way I got involved with Professor Porfiri's research lab was very informal. One of the volunteers at the canoeing club I was involved in happened to be a Ph.D. researcher who worked with Profesor Porfiri. There was a research position in his lab, involved with the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, which is a cleanup site where they were doing an environmental monitoring project. I talked to him about my interest in the project and I ended up working on it. If you have an interest in some area, try to find professors who have relevant projects and experiences. 

Benjamin High, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2016

I was able to get an internship the second month of my first semester. There was a speaker at one of our Freshman Circuit meetings who was working on an interesting project. I stuck around after the event and talked to him about his work. We talked a couple times and I managed to get an internship in that informal way. I wanted to get involved in the startup world so I stuck to meeting people who shared my interests. Accept the uncertainties, but don't dwell on them so much; focus on the present and get out and expose yourself to the serendipity of being in such a big and diverse school.

— Jay Kumar, Electrical Engineering, Class of 2018

Talk to everyone you can, especially your peers and your professors, because nothing happens unless you say something. I can say from past experience that you realize just how important friends are when all of you are studying for finals in Dibner Library. Friends are especially going to help you in the classic prerequisites you all have to take. As an EG 1001 TA, I have not only seen students' aspirations grow in class, but also long lasting friendships.

— Miranda Ma, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2018 

The most difficult part of coming from overseas was relocating because as an international student you have to rebuild the idea of a home. There’s amazing community at NYU. It’s important to network with people that you can rely on and connect with across different schools at NYU. [Studying abroad at NYU Abu Dhabi] was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I would tell anyone to try it at least once. As an engineering student, it’s difficult to fit studying abroad into your schedule but Abu Dhabi offers engineering courses. I think it’s amazing that you can find an NYU community, a little NYU campus in a place that’s so radically different.

— Myriam SbeitiChemical and Biomedical Engineering, Class of 2018

The most difficult part of the transition from high school to college is time management. With this newfound independence, it’s easy to get lost in NYC and everything that’s going on. It is important to have a weekly or daily schedule and plan out when you’re going to be productive. Do well your first year because it is an easier year in terms of difficulty and workload. Make sure that you do schoolwork and prioritize school because you pay for it. Definitely make the most of the city, but the goal is education! I also recommend getting to know your professors. You only have four years to make the most of these people who are brilliant in their field. 

— Griffin Teed, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Class of 2017

Judy Lee
College of Arts and Science
B.A. in Sociology, Class of 2018

Annaluz Cabrera
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
B.S. in Media Culture and Communications, Class of 2018