10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman

By Rachel Ann Jensen, SED 2014

As a current senior, I am in the process of wrapping up my time as an undergraduate at BU and reflecting upon my time so far as a Terrier. Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on the next point in my life, I came into BU with big dreams and great ambitions. With few regrets through my college career, I can say that I would not have changed much about my experience. However, I guess a few tips to myself would have put things into a different perspective early on. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

With a little bit of patience, a list of questions, and a lot of initiative, you will get what you need. There are people at BU who are here to help you and to be there for you. This also goes for professors. I have always been terrified to ask professors for additional help, but this helps them too because they get to see what might not have been explained clearly in class. Ask questions!

2. There is more to BU than Comm Ave.

Photo of Copley Square

Photo of Copley Square

Commonwealth Avenue is home for BU Terriers, with the CITGO sign as our Northern Star. That being said, we’re in the middle of one of the best cities in the world: Boston! You live here, but don’t forget to be a tourist as well, and then learn to be a local. No, that does not mean you need to park your car in Harvard Yard. In fact, don’t bring your car.

3. You will miss the dining halls when you no longer have a dining plan.

BU Dining is fantastic. Have you seen Marciano Commons at 100 Bay State Road? Never again will you have access to so many choices and not have to do the dishes. The dining hall is where I learned so many food hacks and got my creative juices flowing.

4. Needing to call home is not a weakness: it is a sanity check.

As much as college can be about gaining your independence in a relatively controlled environment, don’t forget to call those who helped you get there. My parents may not be able to understand everything about my life at BU, but they want to hear about my successes (and failures). They know me best and even if they did not have the answer for me, my parents always pointed me in the right direction and helped me refocus.

5. College is about getting a degree: this means work.

Jensen studying

photo credit: notashamed via photopin cc

It is great that you have all these clubs and sports and are growing outside of the classroom, but remember that you need to walk across the stage and get that diploma at the end of the day. For School of Education students, a group of overachievers, this means quite a bit of work and self-discipline.


6. Always take a minute to remind yourself why you’re here.

The work in college can be overwhelming. You’re taking a lot of courses and you feel like each day should be 48 hours instead of just 24. Take a deep breath. Why are you here? Are you on track to meet your goals? Take a minute to refocus and put everything back into perspective.

7. Your friends during freshman year may not be your friends during your senior year, but people will surprise you and have your back.

My friends and I have changed a lot throughout college, but those that I have met throughout my journey have always been there. During the city-wide lockdown last year following the Boston Marathon, my roommate from freshman year came over to my brownstone to help me and my fellow residents get food after I messaged her for help. She had my back even when I did not expect it.

8. Summer Leadership and other leadership opportunities are so important.

Some of the greatest learning experiences that I have had in college was through Summer Leadership with the Office of Orientation and the Community Service Center. These leadership positions challenged me in ways that really taught a lot about myself. The social and professional skills that you learn will follow you wherever you go. Who knows? You might just inspire someone else in the process.

9. Going abroad is transformational. Go.

photo credit: ccarlstead via photopin cc

photo credit: ccarlstead via photopin cc

Everyone that I have talked to had a unique and different abroad experience, but we can all agree on one thing: it changed our lives. I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, and absolutely fell in love with the city and all it had to offer. I stepped out of my comfort zone and flourished. Coming back to BU, I saw how much I had grown during my time in Sydney and how it had rekindled my love of travel and learning through experience.

10. The only limits in college are time and the limits you impose on yourself.

The limit does not exist. If there is a will, there is a way. There are all sorts of opportunities, and if you truly want to accomplish something, go out there and take it. Don’t be afraid to carve your own path.

Just as each person is different and unique, every individual college experience is unique, as well. This has been my experience at Boston University and at the School of Education, and I hope this list resonates with you or gives you a few things to think about moving forward. As always, go BU!

*Rachel Ann Jensen is a senior at Boston University School of Education studying mathematics education. 

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