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Advice to My Freshman Self

We think we know everything. We often don’t listen to others’ opinions because we know we’re right. Sadly, we aren’t. I’m pretty stubborn and that has led to me do things my way, even if it wasn’t the best way. Sometimes, I wish I did things differently or listened to those around me.

With that being said, one thing I am certain of is that I know more now than I did three years ago, when I started my freshman year at BC. I definitely didn’t know everything then, no matter how much I pretended to. If I could go back in time and give myself advice, I think I would say the following…

On Schoolwork

When you start college, there is so much free time on your hands. Think about it, we’re only in five classes, and each meets approximately two and a half hours a week. That’s a huge difference from high school, when we were at school for some six or seven hours a day, our classes met four times a week, and we had seven classes. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything with your new given free time! The work you will do in college is much more difficult than the work you did in high school. Plus, most of it you have to learn on your own, since classes meet infrequently and you’re expected to know a lot more material. Not to mention that your professors have literally hundreds of students, so they probably can’t give you all of the time you need.

So don’t slack off! Pick up those books and read the assigned sections. Do all of the practice problems even if they won’t be collected. Keep up with readings and lectures every week. Most definitely don’t wait until midterms to start catching up with your understanding of the material. If you do that, you won’t have a good grasp of the subject at all. I know this sounds unappealing, especially with Netflix and friends around, but doing a moderate amount of studying each day is way more effective than leaving everything for the last two days.

Remember that your biggest priority at BC is your schoolwork. After all, you’re paying an enormous amount of money for your education, so make it count. If you have to get something done, sacrifice your going out time or time at other activities for your studies, so that you can make sure that your academic life stays strong.

On Time Management

To ensure that you don’t need to make a lot of sacrifices, be a smart time manager! My time management skills are very poor. I get everything done, but I procrastinate. Or if I have two papers and a problem set due in one week (aka this week for me), I don’t start early enough, and end up tired and sleepy. Don’t do that to yourself.

And on another note about time management, don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle. There is a saying in Russian that loosely translates as “if you run after two rabbits, you won’t catch either of them.” It is a hunting analogy that fits perfectly for college. You should be a part of any club, organization, or job that you want to be, however, if you commit yourself to too many things, you might not be able to give your best effort or yield the best results for any of your activities. Just like the rabbit analogy states – you won’t catch any of the rabbits, because your mind is everywhere.

On Sleep

Since I mentioned sleep, manage your time in such a way that you get sleep! It’s overrated to tell everyone how tired you are. It seems impossible to find time for sleep, but I know it can be done if time is managed well. I don’t think I need to tell you that when you’re well rested your brain functions better and you’re not as stressed.

On Choosing a Major

About majors and careers… you will most likely hear two opposite opinions of the major/ life spectrum. The first group of people will tell you that you need to know immediately what you want to major in and what career path you should take. The second group of people will disagree and say that it’s okay to be completely undecided! After all, college is all about experimenting and trying new things.

Both of those groups are wrong. I can’t imagine picking a major and a career path in the first days of freshman year and sticking to it throughout college. That seems unreasonable because you need to take some classes to understand exactly what that major or career entails and whether or not it actually interests you. On the other hand, it is naïve and foolish to always be undecided. You don’t have unlimited time in college to “figure things out” as they say. If you really have no clue about what might interest you, you need to do your research. Research the majors you’re interested in and what kinds of classes you need to take for them. Talk to students who have that major to find out more about classes and what their experiences were like. Talk to the professors for those majors and ask them about classes and possible careers. In short, do your research!

In my case, I changed my major a lot. I started out as a Chemistry and English double major, switched to Psychology and Communication, switched to Biology and Communication, and only junior year decided to do a Communication major with a Computer Science minor. Although never declared, Hispanic Studies and Philosophy were also on my radar. What departments didn’t I want to major in?! I had no idea what I wanted to do. As a result, I would take a class from a department, decide that I liked that class, and therefore chose the major that class led to. I was desperate! I couldn’t see a clear path for myself. That is so silly! Instead of actually learning about the different majors, I ended up taking lots of random classes and naively deciding what my major should be. I think you should explore new classes and branch into departments you wouldn’t have considered, but there needs to be a balance between exploration and strategic planning. I lacked that strategic planning, therefore I am stuck taking five classes next semester to satisfy Core requirements, my major, and my minor. Unfortunately, I don’t have room in my schedule to take extra Communication classes that I am interested in or other electives because I spent a great deal of my time in previous year blindly devoting myself to majors I wasn’t interested in.

On Friends and Relationships

One thing I haven’t touched base upon yet is friends. Don’t be scared to talk to lots of people. Yes, you’ll be shy and will feel awkward, but make the effort. It will help you in the future anyways to have good people skills. Don’t shut out potential friends because of a bad first impression, because your other friends don’t like those people, or other reasons. Be open minded about people and welcoming to all, especially if there are people being nice and welcoming to you. You might find your friends, but don’t assume they’ll automatically continue being your close friends. Friendships may not last forever, so being friendly to all can’t hurt.

On the other hand, if you have a strong friendship or relationship that you value highly and it’s extremely important to you, keep up that friendship or relationship. Even if that means that others might be unhappy with you. If this friendship or relationship is bringing you happiness, that’s all that matters. Keep it up! Seek those people who bring you happiness. Those are the most important friends to have, don’t you think?

 

 

Miscellaneous

Keep your room clean. Don’t be pressured to party all the time or go out if you don’t want to. Go to the Plex! Make it a part of your schedule as soon as possible so that it becomes a healthy habit. Don’t eat so much Wok Away, it is not very healthy for you. Find out what activities or organization BC has to offer as soon as you can.

In conclusion…

In the end, just have a good time at BC. Don’t feel like you always have to stay in the BC bubble – don’t be scared to explore other things the city has to offer. Also, don’t be pressured to go out or have a “typical” college experience. Have the college experience that you actually want and will make you happy. Find a good balance between your study time, work time, and fun time. Always leave room for your best friends and families. Do what makes you happy. And of course, listen to others’ opinions, because you don’t always know everything, even if you think you do.  

 

Photo Sources:

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Nadya is a Communication major and Computer Science minor in the honors program of Boston College. She loves to dance, and is also a member of DOBC (Dance Organization of Boston College). Nadya has loved writing for HCBC and can't wait for another year!
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