The ultimate RU freshman survival guide
Results may vary
Rutgers University is located in heart of New Jersey, and probably one of the most well known colleges in the East Coast. It can be fun and exciting to be there, so here’s some advice everyone should know before starting at Rutgers people should follow, or else you’ll most likely be RUScrewed.
There are four main campuses (five technically) which are College Ave, Cook/Douglass, Livingston, and Busch. So if you are on one campus and have class on another one, you most likely have to take the bus.
This isn’t a tea party, freshies
While Rutgers is known for their prestigious education, they are also known as a school with a vibrant night life. At night, especially on the weekends, the school is alive with students going to parties, bars, kickbacks, etc. Here are some tips:
Frat parties or any house party seem to be the place to go at first. They can be fun, but they are things one has to know before stepping into another person’s house. Ladies will most likely have no trouble getting in, but guys unfortunately will. To enter into a fraternity house, you either have to have a ridiculous ratio of girls with you, have a personal connection, be part of the frat, or sneak in.
While yes they can be fun, a lot of them stick you in a hot basement surrounded by sweaty people waiting in line to get a drink. Regular house parties are easier to get in, you either pay a cover charge, know someone, or sometimes just walk right in.
If being in another person’s crowded house isn’t for you, grab some of your friends and have your own fun. Sometimes it’s best to keep it intimate with the people that are closest to you.
When you turn 21, you can go to bars. I would recommend going to Easton Ave, which is where all the spots are. There’s something for everybody there.
Whether you are at a party or at a bar, it’s important to know your limits and to be aware of your surroundings. Everyone needs to know their limits, and if you are with somebody, stay with them. It’s also highly recommended to travel with groups at night, because you never know what can happen.
The Bus System
The notorious Rutgers bus system has routes going to every campus and downtown New Brunswick. They are confusing at first, and a lot of people have taken the wrong bus before, and ended up in a place they didn’t want to be. This is why it is absolutely essential to download the Rutgers App. Not only does this app contain when buses are coming at going at particular stops, but also it has information on wha dining halls are serving, lets you login to Sakai and many other campus resources.
The bus system will still be a learning process. And so, it’s best to ask for help students who work at the student center, they will help you out, because regular students may try to mess with you.
An important note about Rutgers buses is that they are crowded, and you will be squished by other smelly and sweaty people. Particularly. during the the first couple months of college when 90 degree whether turns the bus into a sauna and people are actually going to classes. During your first few weeks definitely get out there earlier so you can get a feel for how the buses work.
I’m sure this was stressed this at orientation, but let people out of the bus before you start strolling on in. Students will mostly make faces if you disregard this rule, but the bus drivers will call you out in a manner that will rattle your soul.
Unless you’re a truly rare species, you won’t be using all your meal swipes. As freshmen, the minimum plan is 210 swipes, and yet most people I know don’t break 150.
In terms of how you can use your meal swipes, here’s the breakdown:
Dining halls take one swipe at a time, but you can guest swipe people in (You automatically have 10 of these in your plan). There’s a dining hall on each campus, Brower Commons on College Avenue, Neilson Dining Hall on Douglass, Livingston Dining Hall and the Busch Dining Hall.
At takeout you can double-swipe, but sometimes they’ll just give you half the amount of food in each container. Oh, and don’t forget your cupanion!
You will inevitably forget your Cupanion every time.
Kilmer’s Market is the grocery store where you can swipe three times, provided you have a "center of the plate" item in each swipe. This can be fruit, salad or sandwich. It’ll take up at least half of your $8 allotment under a meal swipe. The fruit cup is the cheapest at $3.99.
The student centers are also a great place to go to if you’re looking to use your meal swipes. The Rock Cafe in the Livingston Student Center, the Douglass Cafe, the Cook Cafe as well as Woody’s on Busch all take meal swipes.
CABfare is a little known location that takes meal swipes. It’s located a little ways off campus on the third floor of the Clinical Academic Building. They also don’t have a "center of the plate" rule like.
At Pizzera Uno on Cook/ Douglass you can even double swipe for a two-liter soda, two bags of chips, and an entire pie of pizza. The Sbarros in the Livingston student center takes meal swipes as well, y’know, if you like that kind of thing.
Easton Avenue is the go-to place for students sick of the dining hall or off-meal-plan (Sorry, you can’t do that until sophomore year). Places like Tacoria, Stuff Yer Face and Hidden Grounds are staples for RU students. Many students use Eat Street to check if places do takeout or deliver.
However, the recently opened Panera Bread next to the student center will undoubtedly be crowded with excited students, new and old.
Lecture Halls v. You
You are not in a 20 person classroom where the teacher knows everybody’s name. Giant lecture halls can be a shock to new students because of how big they are. You are one of 100+ students sitting there and listening to the teacher.
It’s easy to be intimidated when in fact you should embrace the freedom it provides. You can take notes however you want, sit wherever you want, the seats are more comfortable, and if you hate the people there you can just sit in the back and avoid them.
But sometimes there are negatives. The professor may not be the best, so constructive criticism during class may be more difficult in front of a lot of people. If you like a teacher being hands on with you, then you are not going to get that because it’s impossible. To deal with some of these issues just email the teacher or get their office hours to work closely with them.
In theory, you can miss all lecture halls, and just show up to take the quizzes and tests. I would highly suggest not to do that, unless you are really confident in the material and have all the notes and materials that you need to study. Plus if you don’t get something, it’s better to be there in class and hear the professor explaining it.
Whether it be a club, student organization, fraternity/sorority, or just a group of people you like spending your time with, doing stuff other than just studying makes the college years more bearable. Rutgers has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country, so if you are into something, there’s most likely a group of people who are into the same thing.
How do you find these people? Well the biggest bet is to go the Involvement Fair at the beginning of every semester, to see if something interests you. And if none of the 500+ student organizations impress you, start a group on social media sites like Facebook, where you can gather a bunch of people with the same interests as you.
There’s probably someone out there who’s looking for the same thing. Although meme groups may have a little competition.
Football and Basketball are the two most popular sports at Rutgers, and it’s safe to say that we’re not quite up to speed with the other schools in our division.
While we’ll almost certainly lose, It’s undeniable though that these events are a lot of fun. The biggest advice is to go with a big group of people and have some fun. Even if it’s not your thing, it’s fun to show your school spirit. Rutgers Football especially can be underwhelming, so another thing to know is keep your expectations low, so you won’t be disappointed. We won’t always win, but we’ll having a great time on the way down.
If Basketball and Football are letting you down, Rutgers also has plenty of other sports that you can get into like soccer, gymnastics, track and field, rowing, wrestling where they are most likely performing better than the two popular sports.
And of course, if you like to play more than you like to watch, grab some of your friends and form an intramural team.
The most important piece of advice is obvious, but it needs to be said: When you are in a university, especially one like Rutgers, you are there to get an education. That is the number one priority of everybody going there. It’s important to know that sacrifices have to be made to be successful.
Rutgers is a huge school with a plethora of clubs, activities and social events going on constantly. It’s easy to get caught up in all the things going on around you, so it’s important to know when you may need to stay in for the night. The only way to graduate is to pass all your classes, and nothing is worse than wasting money and time retaking a class you could’ve passed if you just put more time into it.
When you do come by some free time, it’s important to spend it wisely with people who make it worthwhile. You wouldn’t want to look back back and think you wasted your college years.
Don’t feel like you need to get involved in absolutely everything at Rutgers your freshman year. It’s easy to fall into an endless cycle of FOMO, going somewhere you never wanted to in the first place. But if you’re picky with where you choose, you’ll have much more enjoyable year and college experience.