17 Ways to Thrive as a First-Year Student at NJIT

Going into your freshman year of college is equal parts thrilling and scary. Before you crack open a single textbook, take a minute to study this tutorial on how to live, work, play, learn and thrive during your first-year as a Highlander.

An unfamiliar place, new faces, high expectations. Going into your freshman year of college is equal parts thrilling and scary.

Don't fret! We're here to help you navigate your first year of college like a boss.

Enter: The Definitive NJIT Survival Guide.

This primer is packed to the gills with valuable links and tips for commuter students and incoming residents.

Who should you speak with to jump-start your career?

What can you do to beat the dreaded Freshman 15?

When is the best time to join student organizations?

Where can you meet new friends and eat good food?

Why is it important to network with your professors?

How can you use your student ID to score cheap tickets to live shows?

Plus: everything else you need to know to start your college journey on the right foot.

So before you crack open a single textbook, take a minute to study this tutorial on how to live, work, play, learn and thrive during your first-year as a Highlander.

You can thank us later.

1. Keep an Open Mind

Diversity has always been NJIT’s bedrock. With over 11,000 students from 37 states and 98 countries, be prepared to meet unique people and have your opinions challenged. “What we have at NJIT is a true America,” says adjunct professor Patti O’Brien-Richardson. “A melting pot of diverse religions and cultures exists here.” Find out why O’Brien-Richardson’s hair course was one of the most diverse, buzzed-about seminars last semester.

2. Join The Club

Love chess? Got a thing for the musical arts? Into photography? Well, we’ve got clubs for that—and then some. By joining a student organization, you’ll meet like-minded people while engaging in fun activities on and off campus. Last semester, the Women in Computing Society and the Association of Computing Machinery clubs toured Google’s New York City office. Keep an eye out for scores of student organizations (and free swag) camped out on The Green after Convocation, which is the best time to sign up.

3. Be a Good Sport

We field 19 varsity teams at the NCAA Division I level. But if you can’t bend it like Beckham, sign up for an NJIT-sponsored intramural sports league instead. Various levels of competition are offered throughout the year for men, women and coed play, and provide a social atmosphere for personal growth and development. Discover how to make participation in recreational activities an essential part of your NJIT experience.

4. Mix and Mingle

You can binge-watch “Game of Thrones” anytime. Put down the iPad, get out and go where the people are. The game rooms in the residence halls are equipped with foosball and pool tables. There’s also a bowling alley and table tennis in the Campus Center, which is a hub for social interaction and on-campus goings-on. Chat up the fine folks at the Campus Center Information Desk for all the deets on upcoming events.

5. Explore Your New ’Hood

Home to some 30,000 students, University Heights is a burgeoning, pedestrian-friendly college town, 20 minutes west of New York City, brimming with food and cultural offerings. Use your student ID to get free admission to the Newark Museum. A stone’s throw away is Halsey Street, a buzzy thoroughfare lined with critically hailed cafés and eateries. (Warning! The sweet potato tots at Walla Burger are addictive). Also nearby is NJPAC, which offers a Student RUSH Program to buy tickets to select performances for $10. Dive into our recommendations for the best budget-friendly, off-campus eats around town; find out why you should #DoSomethingNewark; and be sure to follow these safety tips when traveling on or around campus.

6. Commute Like a Pro

If you need to find your way back to Zen after battling traffic on the parkway, decompress in the commuter lounge on the fourth floor of the Campus Center. The Commuter Assistance & Resource Services offers straphangers and motorists free weekly breakfast and monthly discounts in the Highlander Pub. Watch the New Student Orientation Team’s video of quick tips on vehicle registration, where to park and the quickest ways to commute to campus.

7. Establish House Rules

You: a shy, neat freak who wakes up at the crack of dawn to do downward dog poses. Your new roommate: a messy, outgoing night owl who burns the midnight oil while blasting Drake. Living with a stranger can be tricky business. It’s crucial to communicate expectations and set boundaries early on. Print out the Resident Life Roommate & Suitemate Agreement to learn your roomie’s pet peeves; watch a video of tips for incoming residents; and read your guide to living on campus.

8. Get Your Grub On

The Taj Mahal food truck parked on Warren Street dishes up popular lamb platters, fat sandwiches, falafels, empanadas, burgers, hotdogs and coffee. On campus, there are over two-dozen, full-service food stations in The Main Dining Hall. Convenient Grab-n-Go sandwiches line the shelves of the C-Store and handcrafted wraps are on deck at Warren Street Café. Check out Gourmet Dining venues, meal plan options and hours of operation.

9. Beat the Freshman 15

You’re a college student now. Late-night french fry dinners and caffeine-fueled study sessions are a rite of passage. Remember to do a few laps around the pool, hit the treadmill or pump some iron to burn calories at one of the fitness centers...before you outgrow your skinny jeans.

10. Work, Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

Because the cash Granny shoved in your freshman-year care package will only go so far, consider applying for an on-campus job that relates to your major. Various departments across the university are looking for part-time advisors, assistants and tutors. You won’t get rich, but at least you’ll have a few extra coins to hit up the city for a night out with your new college friends.

11. Forge Professional Connections

It’s never too early to start thinking about your post-college career goals. Our Career Resource Center offers a slew of job search tools, tutorials and strategies that will have you workplace-ready lickety-split. Plus, NJIT-hosted career fairs give you the chance to schmooze and swap cards with alums and over 150 employing organizations, like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon. Visit Career Development Services to get additional info about the upcoming open house Sept. 9.

 12. Get to Know Your Professors

Our student-faculty ratio of 18:1 offers you an opportunity to go beyond the syllabus, and network with your professors. How? Start by showing up to class on time; participating in class discussions and using office hours to get feedback on your progress. After all, you’re going to need someone to write that recommendation letter. Get acquainted with some of the world-class faculty you’ll encounter at NJIT.

13. Manage Your Time

The art of procrastination is one we’ve all mastered at some point. But lollygagging does not a successful Highlander make. You’ll find advice on how to declutter your workspace, the best apps to budget your time, college spending and much more in our guide to college organization.

14. Study Abroad

Why hunker down in your dorm room when you’ve got over 45-acres of campus space to stretch out and bone up for your exams? Whether you’re the outdoorsy type or prefer an indoor, multipurpose room with city views, tons of natural light and access to flat screen TVs, we’ve got you covered. Check out the best places to study around NJIT.

15. Lend a Helping Hand

Volunteering will fill you with a sense of purpose. At NJIT, the faculty and staff take great care to nurture Highlanders who are concerned about humanity and give back to the community. Our students clock over 45,000 hours of community service annually. Familiarize yourself with our Civic Engagement Programs to see how your skills and talents can benefit someone in need—plus, it’ll look great on your resume.

16. Back That Thing Up

It happens to the best of us: You’re down to the wire with less than an hour to spare before that big paper is due. You know, the one you waited until the very last minute to write—and ZAP! Your computer crashes. When was the last time you backed up your files? Checked your restores? Learn what tools you need to back up your computer before it’s too late.

17. Say No to FOMO

With classes, tests, labs and exams to worry about, the very last thing you need on your plate is a fear of missing out. To stay looped in on the latest news and countless events planned for the upcoming academic year, bookmark (and frequently check) njit.edu; add us on Snapchat @SnapNJIT—and follow NJIT on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Now go be great!

By Shydale James and Michelle Saeia
sjames@njit.edu; michelle.saeia@njit.edu