Being a few years older and starting school
First, Congratulations. Good for you for continuing your education. Your experience will certainly help and it's great to have some ideas about where you want to go.
A friendly word of advice though. You won't be the only older student. There will be many students of all ages. Some will know far more than you, others will hardly know anything.
When I was in school as a young man, it always surprised me that other students would be incredulous that a fellow student did not know how to make an omelet, bake a cake, weren't familiar with the mother sauces, had never heard of Escoffier, and much more. They seemed to miraculously forget that we were all students in school and were there to learn, not to show off how much we knew. Be respectful of everyones' level of knowledge and experience.
On those rare occasions when you have some free time and a bit of gas in the car, explore New York State. There are many great restaurants, cafes and gastro pubs of all kinds throughout the Hudson Valley. The towns of Hudson, Rhinebeck, Athens and Newburgh are just a few of the many interesting places to explore along the Hudson river. There are also places like the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, where they make some great cheeses. Local farms large and small are everywhere and produce everything from buffalo to maple syrup to soap, fruits, vegetables and everything else. Hunter mountain is a close ski area. Albany is the capital city with much to offer for a weekend visit and further north is Saratoga, notable for several reasons. Sharon Springs is a great destination, not far from Cooperstown where the Baseball Hall of Fame is located. Antiques can be had everywhere. There is a tremendous amount of history to be discovered all over. Slow casual trips on the blue highways will reveal beautiful old small towns with a lot of character and lots of hidden surprises. Hotels, motels and great Bed and Breakfasts are all over at a variety of prices should you decide to stay over somewhere.
Of course, you are just a short hop south to NYC. Just remember that the rest of New York State deserves your attention too.
Being a good roommate. Respect, communication and getting over yourself. No slamming doors when coming home late at night. Wash your dishes. Keep the common areas of the apartment free of your clothes and assorted stuff. Pay your share of the rent, food, utilities on time, every time. keep the bathroom clean. Keep the loud noises to a minimum. Don't go into your room mates room without permission. Knock first when the door is closed. In short, don't do those things you would find annoying if your room mate did them.
Your room mate may have a different sense of style and decoration for the apartment than you do or listen to music you have never appreciated. So what.
Sit down with the room mate the first day and establish an open line of communication right away. You should both be free to state calmly what may be bothering you and be able to listen to the complaint without anger. Then make the necessary adjustment in behavior.
You do this by letting him know up front that you will be doing that and expecting the same. No passive aggressive notes.
Being a room mate highlights your ability to place your room mates needs on an equal level with your own and minimizing your stupidity. Quit forgetting to lock the front door, flushing the toilet, leaving your smelly laundry in the living room, neglecting when the rent is due, making dinner for yourself and leaving a mess, refusing to sweep, mop or vacuum or take out the trash.
In short, all the bothersome behavior your parents may have tried to get you to do or stop doing will now be very necessary.
If you like, you can print this out and show it to your room mate to begin the conversation.
I worked in the food service industry for a few years. When I was 47, returned t the field of education, this time as the chef instructor of a high school Culinary Arts program.
I think I have the best of both worlds. I get to students how to cook and bake and I get to supervise school related catering events while also enjoying the vacation schedule of a teacher ... 4 days off for Thanksgiving ... 2 weeks for Christmas ... 1 week for Spring Break .... 2 1/2 months for Sumner vacation. My evenings and weekends are usually free. I feel blessed for having found this 3rd career path.