In just a few weeks, I’ll be walking across Nickerson Field in a red cap and gown and leaving BU, a place that has become a new home for me for the past few years. Graduating college is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. It makes you feel super nostalgic and reflective.
Thus, leaving behind the COM Ambassador program, a program that has allowed me to meet many students who have walked through the doors of COM and attempt to give them advice (even though I’m still trying to figure out my own life), is another example of a very difficult goodbye I’ll have to give.
If I could do college over again, there are definitely a lot of things I wouldn’t do. I probably wouldn’t have gotten a dining plan with a lot of meal options (the GSU seriously has the best food on-campus), I would not have left my bass guitar at home freshman year, and I would have moved off-campus earlier. While this list could go on forever, I’ve decided to list the 6 major pieces of advice I’d give to my younger self in the hopes that they may possibly help an incoming freshman next year.
1. Get off-campus more!
I didn’t truly venture into the city of Boston until later in my sophomore year. I regret not going to more concerts and shows and art galleries in the city so much earlier. Boston is a fascinating city, which is constantly attracting different speakers and celebrities all the time. Explore! And no – going to the Boston Common (while fun) does not count as exploring the city. Venture to the Jamaica Pond and attend Porchfest, a summer concert series on the front porches of people’s houses. Venture out to Quincy and visit some cool shops. BU has an amazing campus, but you’re only in Boston for so long. Take advantage!
2. Don’t be afraid of upperclassmen
I spent a lot of time freshman year looking at upperclassmen, especially seniors, and wanting to befriend them but being afraid that I was too young or too much of a freshman to actually hang out with them. Little did I know, when I just asked to hang out, many upperclassmen said yes. As an upperclassman now who hangs out with freshmen, I’ve learned that class years really don’t matter. All of those fears you have about going up to someone “cool” shouldn’t be real! Upperclassmen have been in this city, and at this school, longer than you have. They can give great advice and show you the ropes while you’re still adjusting.
3. Leave room for electives outside of your major
If you only take required classes, you’ll miss out on the array of amazing and interesting courses offered all over the university. Maybe you’re a PR major who takes photojournalism just to learn how to take better photos at family parties. Or maybe you take a course in the College of Fine Arts just because you were never able to. Try to budget room in your schedule to have fun and take classes you’ll enjoy – even if they don’t satisfy a requirement. I took a course called Urban Sociology my sophomore year. Even though it did not count for a requirement, it is still one of my favorite courses I’ve taken at BU and has reshaped many views I’ve had about urbanization, how cities function, and my role as a citizen in a city.
4. Changing your major is OK
This is something that can NEVER be said enough. I think what makes students more anxious than actually satisfying requirements after changing majors is telling people (or coming to term yourself) that you’ve changed your mind. But that is OK! While the logistics of changing may be more or less difficult depending on when you decide to do so and what you decide to change to, follow your passions. Major in whatever program makes you the most excited and has the most interesting classes. And even if that major isn’t in COM (which I surely hope it is), that’s ok too! What matters is that you’re happy and excited about classes you take.
5. You learn a lot more from talking to people than any class you’ll ever take
While my last two points talked a lot about classes, I just wanted to remind you all that there is so much you gain from BU outside of the classroom. I changed my major to journalism after getting involved with WTBU and meeting amazing mentors who talked to me about the program. After meeting leaders in non-profits at the Community Service Center, I’ve decided to pursue a career in service work and education, rather than journalism. I’ve learned more about systems of injustice from interviewing people around Boston than I have in sociology courses. While classes are important and have given me a huge intellectual and academic understanding of the world, meeting actual people – whether BU students or members of the Boston community – will stay with you much longer than any classroom lesson. The world is filled with amazing people and make the extra effort to go out and say hi before you graduate.
And lastly, have fun! College will fly by before you know it.