A guide of personal experiences to learn from my mistakes
Hello reader, my name is Jamie Pereira, and this article is a reflection on my past experiences at NJIT, and I would like to give you some advice on how you can make your NJIT experience better by seeing where I went wrong.
While I am an Honors College student who will be graduating in May with a B.S in mechanical engineering and a minor in economics after four years of studying at NJIT, nobody is perfect, and if you asked me to do NJIT all over again, there are a few things I would have done.
Majors and minors
At the end of the day I’m perfectly happy with the choice of my major and my minor, I love Mechanical Engineering, and understating Economics gives insight when people argue over differing matters.
The issues that come up with the two, however, are a lack in compatibility. Most students who pursue minors in economics are not engineers.
Why is this? In the Mechanical Engineering department, if you want your minor courses to count towards your other classes, you need to have a minor that is pre-approved. The course requirements for a minor in economics do not have much overlap with the curriculum of mechanical engineering.
You can see why it would dismay students from studying economics alongside engineering, so this is a forewarning; if you’re interested in economics, or any other minor with the School of Management, make sure you understand that you may end up having to tackle another semester, or take summer courses, because you won’t be able to count classes for both, as I had to pay for a full summers worth of classes!
Make sure you fulfill all your class requirements
Sometimes, semesters can still fly by and if you’re not paying enough attention, you may miss some course requirements and this can impact your graduation. Make sure all of the classes you take each semester will fulfil your degree’s requirements.
As I mentioned before, the courses for my economics minor didn’t replace any of my major’s requirements, except for one, my 300 level open Humanities elective. After signing up for another 300 level humanities elective, and getting half way through the semester, I decided to check degree works, and found my economics course actually did fulfil that requirement. I was stuck in a class that I didn’t need and wasn’t necessarily enjoying, when I could have been taking a different elective and making my last semester a full 3 credits easier.
This wasn’t the only speedbump however, as being in the Honors College also requires you fulfill all of their requirements. For those of you reading that are in the HC, make sure you are taking care of all of their requirements as well. Two problems occurred, one being that I came in and didn’t have to take many of the classes that many freshman have towards their HC degree, and the second being that my econ classes were held at Rutgers Newark, which means they do not count towards the HC requirements, like other classes from minors.
Fortunately, the econ minor courses I took at NJIT counted towards Honors College requirements. The lesson here is to always check degree works and confirm degree requirements.
Commuting versus dorming
When I was accepted to NJIT, I received a generous scholarship and was given the opportunity to live on campus with low cost. However, my parents promised me a new car because of my scholarship so I would commute to school.
I took up my parents’ offer because I really wanted a new car that didn’t smell of mildew, but I didn’t realize that instead living on campus surrounded by peers will probably enhance my overall college experience. I now drive a 2008 Honda civic, and have been for every year at NJIT. However, if you have the opportunity to dorm, and can justify the finances of it, just take it. The time spent commuting alone is a drain to your mental capabilities, I think every day of how I have to spend over an hour on the road, and just driving back home from school alone and having to resettle in to get to work. While there are conveniences of living at home such as home cooked meals and free laundry, dorming is definitely the better option because as a commuter, time is wasted on the road or bus or train. Also, let me not even mention parking, because if I get into that, this article will go from snarky to furious really quick.
Balancing Work and On Campus Activities:
In my freshman year, during the first semester, I worked as a filing clerk in a doctor’s office up in Montclair, while also volunteering my time tutoring at CAPE (now known as the Learning Center). The next semester I returned as a paid tutor, and I maintained both jobs until the December of the following year, when I got my first unpaid internship at Liberty Science Center.
After interning for over a year, I left my tutoring job, and got a second position at LSC. You may ask what on campus activities did you do, Jamie, if you were a full time student and regularly holding down two positions? The answer to that is: none.
I did nothing. I joined no clubs, I barely went to on-campus activities, I tried creating my own club, but because of my time limitations I couldn’t get the word out, not even to the members who actually liked my Facebook page (For those who liked the New Jersey Independent Thinkers page [NJIT at NJIT] Thanks! and to my dear friend Anton who designed our logo, thank you very much). I regret not participating in any clubs or on-campus activities for my own leisure. I recommend spending some time out of class working to have some pocket money, but also taking some time to make friends on campus and participating in clubs, events, and activities to enjoy the college experience.
In summation, make sure you follow your degree requirements and understand how taking on a double major or minor can impact graduation dates. Make sure you follow any other requirements your classes may need. Dorm if you can, it’s worth it, and don’t just work, try to participate on campus. College is not only about taking classes to earn a degree, but also making friendships and memories to last a lifetime.