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The Social Reality of Being a Northeastern Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

As I fall back into a routine at the beginning of my second year at Northeastern, I’ve been feeling much more acclimated to the environment. I had a hard time my first year with housing, battling mental illness, and just typical college adjustments.

Northeastern is known as an “airport” school because people are constantly coming and going. You’ve got students going on Dialogue programs during the summer, two different Co-Op cycles, and study abroad — so your social circle is constantly evolving. Your friends will undoubtedly be doing different things than you, and that’s simply the nature of this school. People that go here are independent; they’re not too focused on the typical college experience of partying for four years before going out in the real world. We participate in the real world with our full-time co-ops while we party on the side.

It’s not for everyone. In fact, one of my closest friends decided that Northeastern wasn’t for her. She tried very hard last year to put herself out there just as I and many other first years did, and she found that this environment was not right for her. 

It’s difficult to be a student here. 

I’ve been speaking to one of my friends who took a gap year, and I realized that I wasn’t saying a lot of positive things about my experience and wasn’t exactly giving him any hope. I apologized and said that there are good things, I just haven’t really focused on.

He replied with, “Oh so you’re a pessimist, that’s okay, so am I.”

I defended myself and pleaded, “no, I’m a realist.”

This, of course, simply made it sound like the reality of life at Northeastern can be more negative than positive. Bleak argument, I know. Granted, I’m a second year student who had a tough first year and also came into this year without her closest friend, ultimately feeling lost socially. I haven’t even been on co-op yet. I’m a baby in terms of Northeastern students. 

That being said, I feel like there is this unspoken energy at Northeastern that many of us feel but don’t think others feel the same way. Everyone here is nice; that’s for sure. Everyone here is also doing their own thing. That independence comes with a cost as you have to figure out a lot of your journey on your own.

We go to a school with many students in a relatively large city compared to the majority of universities across America. There’s no one spot where everyone convenes, and you won’t necessarily see someone you know on the way to class. Walking into classes can be intimidating even as a second year. You would think that a school that constantly has people coming and going would be more welcoming and susceptible to new friendships, but it doesn’t make it easy. I’ve felt that in order to have a social life at Northeastern, we need to proactively seek out and maintain relationships – whereas it’s more natural at other schools. Joining clubs is how you become immersed in the Northeastern community, and it’s not always that easy to find one that fits you. 

I personally love my independence and alone time, so the social aspect didn’t affect me as much as it might have affected others last year. However, I am on a mission this year to try and be social and outgoing — to meet new people and actually connect, I’m hopeful. The first two weeks of being back at school have already felt better than the majority of my first year. I’ve become more involved in my clubs and also realized that I do have a bunch of people I can rely on here even if I didn’t realize it before.

Community exists; it’s just not screaming out your name during orientation. I’m really happy now which I hope is comforting to first year students and beyond because no one tells you what the reality of coming to Northeastern is before you get here. You’re thrown into the deep end and expected to tread water for a while until you figure out what works for you. So yes, this article was a little hopeless and sad, but the point is that I do believe it gets better.

Carli Seigelstein

Northeastern '25

Carli is the President of Her Campus Northeastern and a third-year communications and journalism student. She is a native New Yorker and is passionate about social justice, the performing arts, and writing personal stories to drive connection.