November 14, 2016

#RUReady4Reg - Your Registration Resource Center

As you prepare for registration this week, we want you to feel empowered and well-informed for your registration! In this spirit, here are some posts to answer questions or concerns that you may have about the registration process.

Can't get a one-on-one advising appointment before registration? Here are some ideas about what to consider, and why to book that post-registration advising appointment anyway!

Degree Navigator

Think you know how to get the most out of Degree Navigator? Think again! Learn how to effectively use this degree audit tool here:

 Course Schedule Planner
And lastly, think the Course Schedule Planner does all the work for you? Sorta kinda.

This amazing schedule creator helps to take the guesswork out of class timing, but lacks the information about YOU to create fool-proof options.
Make sure you've done your CSP homework (and avoid tears on reg night) by reading our full tutorial:

Remember that team SAS Frosh and our colleagues are here to support you as you register for the first time. We are available for quick questions via Live Chat from 10-11pm on the evening that you register!

#RUReady4Reg? Yeah you are!

February 19, 2016

Alumni Voices: "It Just Didn't Fit Anymore"

Another of our Alumni Voices, Alexandra Milan (SAS '13), shows us that one of the forms of transfer shock or sophomore slump may be doubting an academic path that was once very clear:

I transferred to Rutgers after completing my AA at my hometown community college. I had double majored in psychology and philosophy and loved it. Naturally I thought that I would continue on this path at Rutgers.

My first semester, I took the class that changed my mind: Philosophy of Perception. It was so different than the philosophy courses I had studied before. All I could think was, “Why is everyone arguing? You are all just saying the same thing and none of it is actually helpful in the real world!” When it came time to write my midterm paper, I had absolutely nothing to say. So I had to drop the class!

The next semester I attempted another philosophy class. While I ultimately did well, I found that I was not connecting with the discipline like I had in the past. It just didn’t fit anymore.

I was set on Psychology as my major but needed a new minor to fulfill my requirements. Eventually, I decided to go for a criminology minor within the sociology department. I had considered studying criminal justice in my first year of college, so I knew I was interested in the subject and already had some of the requirements met. If I hadn’t given this a shot, I wouldn’t have taken Race Relations.

We had in depth discussions about social injustices plaguing our society. Our class was diverse, and I was able to hear so many different perspectives on the issues. My gut told me the answers to fighting these injustices lie within the educational system.

After graduating, I moved across the country to do AmeriCorps in Seattle, supporting high school students on a campus bursting at the seams with culture and diversity. It was the most significant year of my life to date. Now, I am pursuing a career working in college diversity programs and applying for the University of Washington's Leadership in Higher Education program.

Although I am not pursuing a career in psychology or criminology, the things I learned during my education helped me understand myself, the world around me, and my place in it. Making this change was terrifying, but even on the most challenging days I am thankful that I get to do something I am truly passionate about.

Alexandra Nora Milan
SAS, Class of 2013

Remember to utilize campus resources if you're experiencing Transfer Shock or the Sophomore Slump!

February 12, 2016

Alumni Voices: "I Stepped Out of My Comfort Zone"

In today's Alumni Voices post, Laura Barrett-Hansen (SAS '11) points to how a seemingly random course may have unexpected and serendipitous effects on your plans:

In high school when I was applying to colleges, I was dead set on hospitality management – because, thought my 17-year-old self, who doesn’t love restaurants and hotels?! Rather than going out of state (too expensive) or going to Rutgers-Camden for their hospitality concentration, I settled on (aka, left myself no other choice) Rutgers-New Brunswick. At some point in the midst of advising day and choosing classes, I signed myself up as a Pre-Business major. I suppose I thought that Business School would put me on a perfect path for hospitality management.
Well, let’s just say Calculus and Microeconomics were tragically not my thing, making for a traumatizing first semester. 

When we were registering for the next semester, one of my dorm friends convinced me to sign up for an Intro to Labor Studies class with him. I knew nothing about labor unions or employment relations. This course ended up being so interesting, engaging, hands-on, and practical, that I declared Labor Studies as a major in that same semester. 

Finding the Labor Studies program completely changed my outlook on college and certainly helped my self-esteem after a very challenging first semester. I eventually became a TA for the Intro course. During my junior year I got an internship with a professor who was at the Center for Women and Work, where I met the supervisor whom I still work for today in the Education and Employment Research Center at SMLR. 

Because I took a chance and stepped out of my comfort zone in taking that one Intro course, I have a Master’s degree and full time job here at Rutgers. I never left and I love what I do!

Laura Barrett-Hansen
SAS/SMLR, Class of 2011
Senior Program Coordinator
Education and Employment Research Center
School of Management and Labor Relations

January 29, 2016

Alumni Voices: "Medicine is not the only way to help people"

In the first of our series of alumni voices, Neelesh Mittal (SAS '10) shows that sometimes the right major path leads to unexpected but fulfilling destinations:

When I got to Rutgers in the Fall of 2006, I was ready to pursue a career in medicine. After all, it’s what I wanted to do since I was 5 years old. My entire family knew that and expected me to become the surgeon I always said I would become.  I knew that I needed to ace Organic Chemistry, do clinical or lab research, score at least a 30 on my MCAT, and volunteer.

All this excitement came crashing down after my very first semester when I completely bombed General Chemistry I. After some deep thinking, I decided it was no matter because I would study super hard for General Chemistry II and show improvement and then medical school admissions committees would not care.

Flash forward to May 2007 – I did not improve much in General Chemistry II. The same story pretty much repeated itself for many of my major classes. I did however do clinical research the following summer and was published in two leading medical journals. Even with my grades, I pressed on, dropping a lot of cash on an MCAT course and taking the test twice. I got a half way decent score, which was not enough to offset my transcript. Advisers, professors, and smart friends and family all suggested finding a new route to helping people. 

I had enough credits to graduate with my Cell Biology and Neuroscience major one semester early, so December 2009 was the end of college for me. This was a good time for reflection. I didn’t do well in my science classes but excelled in my political science and other humanities classes. While I still had a passion for health & medicine, I came to the conclusion that becoming a doctor simply wasn’t going to be that path. I needed a job so I started researching the companies that would come to the Rutgers Career Fair in January. My experiences included clinical research and two publications and a stint as a pharm tech. I figured I could get a basic clinical research job at an academic hospital and buy time to really figure out what was next (because who wants a dead end $11/hour lab job?)

One of the companies coming to the career fair was a medical device company which created devices in the same area as my clinical research. I extensively researched this company and saw they were hiring for a role in Regulatory Affairs – essentially, getting new devices cleared by the FDA and foreign regulatory agencies. I met them at the Career Fair, went into their office the next week for an interview, and got an offer two weeks later. It was the only company I applied to. They loved that I had done all this research and showed a passion for working in teams and across multiple functions. Flash forward 5 years, and I have transitioned to a rewarding sales and marketing role at the same company where I work with surgeons one-on-one in the Operating Room to advance patient care.

Moral of the story: Medicine is not the only way to help people. Life goals made when you were 5 can and should change. Listen to the smarter and older people around you. I can’t speculate what would have happened if I changed paths earlier in my college career, but I know for sure I would have saved a ton of time, money, and stress. Sure, I’m not the guy at the OR table, but it definitely beats not being in the room at all.  

January 22, 2016

You Can Be Anything...JK, No, You Can't

From childhood, parents and educators may have assured you of the open-endedness of your story. Encouragement is delivered by platitude, often via inspirational classroom poster: “You can be anything you want to be,” “You can do anything you set your mind to,” “You are destined for great things.” And for a while…perhaps even still…you believed it. But, of course, it isn’t quite true.
Image courtesy of Despair, Inc. (

We all experience limitations. That's life. But it's important to recognize that limitations don't have to be limiting. They may feel bad, like the opposite of those motivational posters: "No!" "You Can't Do this!" "You fail!" 
But limitations are opportunities as well: opportunities to think more intentionally about what is working and where that might take you. 

Please don’t mistake this post for one of those cheap “you’re not special” rants that gets lobbed at your generation every few months. On the contrary, our argument is that you are TOO SPECIAL to get so lost in possibility or tunnel vision that you miss your purpose. Believe this, there is very real danger in being so preoccupied with a hypothetical everything (or one very specific something) that you miss a very real something in your path. 

Recently I met with a student who is on Academic Probation. After two consecutive term GPAs below a 2.0, he had come to believe that he simply wasn’t as smart as his family or he thought, and he wore this realization with a heavy sadness. We talked through his difficulties and the disconnect between his interests and achievements and the expectations of his family.

As an exercise, I asked him to look at his transcript as he would a stranger’s and tell me the story that unfolds. He carefully and thoughtfully narrated the decisions, missteps, and failures; he even identified the moments of success… but was quick to dismiss them.

I pointed out that if we removed all courses toward his intended major, his GPA would be a 3.25! That was not an accident and it was not because his other courses were "easy." Not surprisingly, at closer look, the remaining courses shared common themes in human behavior and motivations.
But what does this mean? And what might this mean for you?

Some advice not included on the motivational posters:

1. Stop diminishing your successes.  
Advisors hear it every day: We say: “ 'Wow, you did exceptionally well in insert course here!" The student replies: "Oh, yea, well that was easy.”
Any time you’re tempted to use that phrase, remember that someone has failed every course that Rutgers offers. Recognize and embrace your abilities as talents. Language is powerful, so consider saying “Oh, courses like that seem to work well for me” or “Thanks, that material was interesting. ” 

2. Know the difference between an ill attempt and an ill fit.
I failed PreCalc 115 in my first semester because I fell behind and couldn’t regain ground quickly enough to fix the mistakes I’d made. That was an ill attempt
Image courtesy of Despair, Inc. (

I played basketball as a child because I was exceptionally tall for my age. I never loved the game, preferring to shoot hoops in the driveway, but I played because everyone assumed I should. As it got more competitive, I realized that no matter how much I practiced,  my height could not make up for my lack of coordination. Continuing those efforts wouldn’t have been courageous, it would have stolen time from the pursuits that did suit my strengths and serve me (and others) well. It was an ill fit.

If you’re uncertain of which “ill”ness you’re experiencing, come and speak with an adviser to discuss your experiences. Remember: YOU are the expert on your experiences; WE are the experts on your options and opportunities!

3. Dream big…ger. You’re not here to train yourself for your first job, nor can you educate yourself for a lifetime in just four years. Estimates indicate that your generation might expect to hold as many as 15-20 jobs during your employment lifetime. Can any major, in and of itself, prepare you for every position that you will hold in the future? Of course not. Your career may not even exist yet. But, use your time here 'on the banks' to cultivate yourself as a lifelong learner and seek experiences to build skills that will serve you and help identify your strengths. You are more than your major! 

It's hard to be here, right in the middle of your limitations, trying to figure out the road ahead. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. So we asked alumni to lend you the benefit of their insights from the vantage point of successful careers and lives. Many wrote to share their journeys and be for you who they needed when they were 'on the banks.'

Stay tuned across the semester for our guest alumni posts and more Froshblog reflections on the undergraduate journey!