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Boston College

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

I know that you are worried about making friends and finding a new group to hang out with once you start, but do not lose sleep over it, you will be fine. Most schools will offer many opportunities for incoming freshmen to get together and meet new people. The first opportunity comes before school even starts, orientation. You are forced into a small group with people just as nervous as you, and are bound to connect with someone. Also, once you start school there are often several school-run activities for the first few weekends aimed at the freshmen, to encourage meeting new people. Though these activities can often seem uncool or boring, they are actually quite fun. Also I would suggest enjoying the home cooked meals while you still can. Although every college claims that their food is amazing and delicious, nothing compares to a nice dinner cooked by mom. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, buy your books online before school starts. Any books sold by the college will be at least fifty dollars more expensive than what you can find online. Try to get the ISBN numbers ahead of time and save yourself some money.

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By attending Boston College, I have learned how to interact and work with people who come from different backgrounds than myself. When I chose Boston College, I knew that the general student population was not a reflection of people I typically surrounded myself with. Through participating in programs such as the Shaw Leadership Program, I have learned how to relate to people from all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. I now feel comfortable carrying a conversation with someone who holds different views and I now find that the people I associate myself with are very diverse. I have grown tremendously due to the fact that BC is very far from my home, allowing myself to explore an entirely knew area of the country. I have been able to grow more at BC than I would have had I chosen a school close to home. I am thankful for this opportunity to live in a different state, because I do not know when else I would have gotten the chance to travel to places throughout New England. I feel extremely privaledged to be at such an excellent private university in an environment where I constantly feel pushed to question my identity.

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If I were advising my high school self I would talk about various things. The first thing would how alcohol plays an important role in college. Drinking alcohol in Puerto Rico is one thing, but alcohol consumption in college is a whole different thing. “Beer Pong”, “Slap the hoe” and “Kings” were some of the concepts I wish I knew about. I would tell my young self to be careful about those uncertain activities. Secondly, I would advice myself about the dating scene. College is a place where relationships are bound to happen, but it is not all a bed of roses. Some people in college did not defined “relationship” as I did. Some relationships lasted a day, a week, and if you were lucky, a month or two. Third, I would have wanted to know about the importance of experience. Work, volunteer, social and academic experiences are essential to college life. It was not until sophomore year that I discovered what college was about. I just wished someone who had told me: “Adrian, you do not know everything in life. Listen”. Experience was a good professor, but I wished I had some guidance or direction just before college started.

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I was raised in a household that strongly advocated good education, and as such, I've always taken my position as a student seriously. From elementary school through high school, my modus operandi more or less consisted of studying hard. I earned decent grades, won approval from my teachers and parents, and that was that. Or course, success in school doesn't necessarily translate to success in the real world. One doesn't reach the height of life by just being studious - I learned that it college. Coming from that perspective, life at Boston College was a bizzare and novel experience. The students invested much time and energy into their academics, but that was the norm. Expected, even. The real clincher was how involved they were outside of their schoolwork. Time and time again, I was surprised by how vigorously they'd pursue jobs and interships, or how dedicated they were to their volunteer work. That was my wake up call - what am I doing? Booksmarts can only take me so far. It's time that I climbed out of that narrow box I've been sitting in, and really start taking the actions needed to make my future bright.

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I transferred to Boston College after my first year at another university. Though I am so happy with my decision, I wish I could have saved myself some time and applied to BC right away. I would have advised myself to look at these factors when applying: The location--The city in which a college is settled makes all the difference. New Orleans is not my kind of city. Boston is. The social life--Know what social experience you're looking to get out of college. Are you interested in frats/sororities? Volunteering? Clubs? Teams? Parties? Coffee shop discussions? The faculty--This means professors, advisers, and administration. If the faculty's view of education lines up with yours, you're golden. Do they believe education is the path to a career? Or do they view it as more of a cultural and personal growth experience? How much passion do they have about learning, and does it line up with your level of passion? Are they there for the students, or are they there for themselves (simply holding down a job, or doing personal research)? Find a faculty you know will support, encourage, and guide you all four years.

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College is not high school. Seriously. Wave goodbye to coordinate planes, "Lord of the Flies," and all the dates of battles you memorized for US History. College will transform you from that mindless robot who crammed vocabulary words the night before the exam. Instead, courses will require you to actively think. Yeah, I said "think." Believe it or not, you might even question the things you learn (I cannot tell you how many times I wished I could debate with Freud). Eventually, you will develop a "terministic screen" (that's a $50 word!) through which you will see the world. Everything will relate to economics or biology or phsyics. It is up to you to decide how you like to see the world, and in turn, what you want to study. I could try to scare you with the old "you'll get your first C" line, but that's too cliche. Maybe you will get a C, but you'll also learn psychology wasn't for you. Finding your interests is the first step. Next step: read, take notes, think, question, apply. Tenth-grade geometry may not have entertained you, but something in college will - and that's exciting!

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Listen: You got into BC. You're highly intelligent, well-rounded, and driven. You worked hard in HS and you're going to continue to work hard in the classroom at BC. In terms of advice, telling myself I need to work hard in the classroom is unnecessary. Rather, I'd focus my advice solely on the social aspects of college. Why? Because the transition is arguably the hardest part of college; establishing yourself socially and finding a close friend group is something I cannot stress enough. You will be happy, and it will affect all aspects. You've heard the motivation, now here's the advice: Right away, be overly outgoing. You have no friends? Please realize: no one else has friends, either! People will be throwing themselves at you (in hopes of making friends) if only you took the effort to extend a hand and say nice to meet you. Unfortunately, this excessive friendliness stops after the first 2 weeks, so be sure to get on it right away. It sounds so simple, but meeting a lot of people and finding quality friends the first two weeks will have immeasurable effects on the rest of your freshman year.

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Where to begin? Well, if you're like me and happen to be the first of your family (parents included) fumbling their way through the college process (applications, finances, etc), you have a lot of work to do. But you must do what you can to keep college from becoming a chore. Delegate the responsibility of your education with those closest to you. Keep your parents as involved as possible. Don't be put off by the sticker price of an education. The average private school is going to cost you $25k+ a year--but there are a million different scholarship and grant opportunities out there to alleviate the stress of paying for college (and the subsequent student loans). Have fun, make friends, and don't compromise your beliefs to fit in or placate others (there will be plenty of opportunities to do so). Your niche is there; you just have to look. Embrace your school's colors--real and imaginary. Learn HOW to study. Think about that last statement, then ask upperclassmen to clarify it for you. Don't drink every weekend. Lastly, know how lucky you are to be in school and make it count.

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Time is so important at this point in your life. Your life and future are at stake. Relationships change. Friends will leave you and betray you. Education will become a part of you. You'll be able to have something of value that will never leave or change. It will enable your success. And not just financially. You'll be able to do what interests you. You won't wake up every morning dreading going to that dead-end job. You'll have a career before marriage and children. You'll meet people from many cultures and races. Your view of the world will broaden. No longer will you be stiffled in your own private space. You'll understand other people and their point of view. And learn to respect the opinions that differ from your own. Four or more years go by quickly. It's the most exciting time of your life. Learning should be your reason for getting a college degree. People change careers in their lifetime. You will always have a foundation to change your life. You are an intelligent person. Don't waste these precious years. Do this now. You'll find a way.

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I could come up with a lot of different pieces of advice for an incoming freshman but I think two of the most important are: always having a positive attitude and a determination to succeed. Naturally, no normal human being will always have a positive attitude about everything and everyone at all times. However, even with just a little effort to see the brighter side of things, a situation could turn out much better than ever expected. From my experiences, this was definitely the case. When things hadn't gone exactly the way I planned, instead of stressing I just appreciated the situation for what it was and always ended up feeling more accomplished, knowing I did all I could. Especially during our freshman year, it?s important for students to be mentally healthy--as in having the least stress possible. For this to happen, it would do them well to follow this advice. As for the second piece of my advice, I think it goes without saying that you need determination to get into college, to stay in college, and to go beyond it for a better future not only for yourself but for the world.

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