New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

A guide to surviving your first semester at NYU

Look no further for help with your schedule, academics, making friends and more at the university.
Manasa Gudavalli

As you are about to begin your first semester at NYU, you might have questions about how to secure a prime study spot, where to go for academic support or how to drop that 8 a.m. class you are already regretting registering for. 

If you want to save yourself a deep dive down the NYU subreddit or the parents’ Facebook page to find answers, read on for our guide to your first semester and beyond at our beloved silly little purple school.

Where to study

For some of you, studying at the desk in your dorm room will work just fine, but for those of you who struggle to study while your roommate is busy breaking the sound barrier on a five-hour phone call, there are plenty of other options. 

The first and most popular option is Bobst Library, the towering red sandstone heart of NYU. Containing a staggering 425,000 square feet of potential study space, the 12-floor building is sure to fit your studying needs. The library offers both quiet and collaborative work spaces, with different floors and rooms designated for different styles of studying. 

The library’s expansive atrium, high ceilings and huge windows help make studying a bit less painful — writing a 10-page paper is tolerable if you get to do it above a sweeping view of the city. If aesthetics are not your priority, you can also check out Bobst’s below-ground floors, which are open 24 hours a day and include group study rooms you can book on the library website.

While the library’s size and appearance are definitely one of its strengths, make sure to also take advantage of the knowledgeable librarians and millions of volumes at Bobst, as they might just be the key to getting an A on your first big research paper.

If you ever find yourself getting sick of Bobst — you can only spend so many hours and down so many RedBulls in one place — you can take to other university spaces to study, like the Kimmel Center for University Life, the Academic Resource Center or your residence hall lounge. For those of you who need a break from studying near anything screaming with violet pride, there are plenty of cafes in the Washington Square Park area you can escape to, such as Think Coffee on Mercer Street and Colomba Bakery on Waverly Place.

What to do if your schedule isn’t ideal

So you signed up for an 8 a.m. class all the way across campus from your dorm thinking you would be fine, and have quickly realized you couldn’t be more wrong. Not to worry, there are a few things you can do to save yourself, your sleep and your GPA.

Every semester starts with an add/drop period where you can change your schedule at no risk to your grades. If you have a class or professor that you don’t think is right for you, you can try joining a waitlist for another class and see if it opens up before the period ends or join an open class. Plenty of other students are also trying to change their schedules during this period, so it just might work out that room opens up in a class that was previously full.

Classes you come off the waitlist for can automatically be replaced with a class you are enrolled in using Albert’s Edit Swap feature, which means you can be enrolled in the number of classes you need and still try to get into the ones you want to take most. If you’re concerned about your schedule or are thinking of changing the classes you’re in, you can also shoot your adviser an email and they can help you find the best solution.

Another less certain way to get into a class you want to take is to email the professor. While this method does not always work — sometimes classes are filled to the brim and there’s nothing you can do about it — it can be worth it if there’s a course that you’re dying to take. Let the professor know why you want to take the class and be understanding if it’s not possible. In the worst case, you’ve shown you’re an enthusiastic student. 

If you’ve tried everything and still don’t love your schedule, remember that there are many more semesters ahead of you, and that one especially difficult one does not need to define your college experience. Make sure you know all of your options ahead of the next course selection period and ask your adviser for help if you’re struggling to plan things out.

What to do if you’re struggling in class

It’s easy to feel discouraged if you’re having a hard time in any of your classes, especially if high school was a breeze. The transition to college classes can take some adjusting to, but luckily NYU has lots of resources to help you out.

Finding people to help you study can feel like a challenge, but the University Learning Center, which has locations at 18 Washington Pl. and 110 E. 14th St., has got you covered. The ULC has academic skills workshops, peer tutoring and other programming to give you the skills you need to do well this semester. You can sign up for online or in-person tutoring sessions here and take a look at other events hosted by the ULC here.

One mistake many students make is not taking advantage of their professors’ office hours. While it can be intimidating to meet with a professor one-on-one — especially if you’re in a big lecture hall class with hundreds of other students — no one knows how to explain the course material better than the person teaching it. Office hours give you the opportunity to ask specific questions about lessons and assignments that you won’t find the answers to on Google, with the added bonus of helping you build a relationship with your professor.

Another academic resource at your disposal is the university’s Writing Center, which provides students with one-on-one writing help. Students can use the center for support with any of their writing assignments — excluding exams — and get a better idea of writing expectations at a college level. You can schedule an appointment for the Writing Center here. Be warned that spots tend to fill up quickly during the semester, so be sure to book in advance.

If you want to request disability-related accommodations for your classes and exams, make sure to contact the Moses Center for Student Accessibility. Students can request accommodations through this application on the Moses Center’s website.

How to meet people, even if you’re not a people person

NYU has a reputation for being a school that’s hard to make friends at, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you. The first couple weeks of the semester are one of the best times to meet people, whether it’s at a welcome week event, a club meeting or in residence hall common areas.

The university’s NYU Welcome programming includes themed gatherings where you can find people with similar interests and spaces where you can meet students with shared identities. All of these events are included in the NYU Mobile app, where you can narrow the long — and sometimes overwhelming — list of events down to what interests you most. You can also learn about hundreds of student clubs and on-campus organizations at Club Fest during the welcome week festivities.

Once you’re settled in your dorm room, make an effort to get to know your roommates and suitemates. The beginning of the semester is the best time to form a good relationship with your living companions, as you’ll find yourself getting busy pretty quickly after move-in. Becoming close with the people you live with can make dorm living a much easier and less lonely experience. 

If you happen to not get along with the people you live with, not to worry, there are literally hundreds of other people in your residence hall. If your dorm has a dining hall, try to strike up conversation with someone eating there, or ask if you can study next to someone in the lounge and start talking with them. Remember that at the beginning of the semester everyone wants to make friends; most people will be open to a conversation or a quick meal if you just ask. 

It can be especially difficult to meet people at NYU if you’re not living in the residence halls your first year, however there are a few resources you can use to find your people despite not living on campus. There are various lounges for commuter students on campus, two at the Washington Square Campus and one at NYU’s Brooklyn campus, and the Commuter Student Council plans events throughout the year for students living off campus to get to know each other and get involved at the university. 

Contact Carmo Moniz at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Carmo Moniz
Carmo Moniz, Managing Editor
Carmo Moniz is a junior studying journalism and politics. She enjoys covering city news and dabbling in data journalism, and aspires to one day join the journalism-to-law-school pipeline. When she's not in classes or at the Washington Square News, you can find her looking for a movie to watch or embarking on random art projects. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @carmo_moniz or send tips at [email protected].
Manasa Gudavalli
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and

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