NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Mike Guastaferro was in for a rude awakening when he arrived at Rutgers University.
"I came in from high school where I was (on the) honor roll and all that stuff," he said. "I came into chemistry my freshman year and got my butt handed to me. I was on academic probation my first semester."
It was a reality check for the microbial biotechnology major. It was time for a gut check.
"Once I became a little less arrogant and started to study, well, here I am," said Guastaferro, who graduated Sunday from Rutgers and is excited about the new molecular biology job he is soon starting.
So his advice to the freshmen who will be arriving On The Banks in the fall is to stay humble and work hard.
Other graduates who had just enjoyed the Rutgers-New Brunswick commencement ceremonies on Sunday morning at HighPoint.com Stadium on the Busch Campus in Piscataway had an array of advice for the next class of freshmen.
Here's what they had to say.
Marina Martinez, social work: "Don't worry if you don't have it figured out yet. I changed my major three times and I'm still graduating. You can do it if you plan ahead and have a really good foundation of friends to support you."
Dominick Nesser, information technology and informatics: "My advice would be to do as much research as you can on classes and try to stay ahead. Google the classes. Check out the difficulty. Explore it. Don't commit to anything too soon."
Amanda Fraticelli, graphic design: "I would say to try as many things as possible. Get involved in as many things as possible. Don't be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone because that's how you're going to learn the most."
Michael Derise, criminal justice: "Get involved. It's a big school. The best way to make it smaller is to get involved. And also, stay on top of your studies. The staff here is great. Honestly, don't be shy."
Yousef Soliman, biological services: "I would say stay on top of your work. Keep it under control. Manage your work and your time well. Remember what your responsibilities are. Balance your social life with your academic life. As long as you get your work done, you're free to hang out until you fall asleep."
Danny Taylor, education: "Check your financial aid, file your FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) early on. Keep on top of your documentation. There's a lot of bureaucratic stuff."
Unah Magaya, environmental and business economics: "Don't be afraid to say because there are going to be tons of things brought to you, new experiences, clubs, activities, programs. So, don't be afraid to say no, but at the same time don't lose your integrity. You should always have a solid foundation who you are."