BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: I went to a private school in Atlanta, GA with a graduating class of about 125 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I played a lot of intramural sports, like soccer, basketball, and flag football; I was in a couple of public health clubs, I was in a service club, and I was in the Pre-vet Society.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The service clubs and the Pre-Med Society. Boston College is very focused on service and serving the community. It’s also how you meet people, so those clubs become an integral part of being a student at Boston College.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The Biology major is pretty extensive at Boston College and I would say it had a lot more work than other majors. It involved a lot of lab work, especially in your first and second years. I didn’t have as many problem sets as just lectures and studying. When I got into my third and fourth year I had more problems in creating research proposals and stuff like that to present, so we were more so applying what we learned. It became more focused on what I wanted to study versus, in the beginning, it’s a lot of groundwork so you can understand biology as a whole and math and physics to then apply to something. For example, I took a class on genetics and personalized medicine and we proposed our projects to further the field of personalized medicine and research today.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
In the beginning years, it’s very competitive. I was on the pre-vet track, but I was with all the pre-med students, so that was very competitive. I think the average Boston College student is competitive to begin with, so that added to it. Your professors in the classes make it competitive because it’s all based on [a curve], which was a shock to me when I got there. On your first test, whatever the average for the class was would be a B-, and then if I got 10 points above the curve I got a B+ or an A-. Over the years it became more collaborative because people realized that we’re all in this together and we have to get through it. By the end, I found the people that I could collaborate with, but in the beginning, it was for sure competitive.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think, by the end, the Biology department is really good about keeping small class sizes and teaching very applicable knowledge. I came out it really feeling like I knew what I am talking about. In the beginning you get lost in the numbers because it’s the second largest major in the School of Arts and Sciences. It became kind of a bloodbath to see who could talk to the professor and things like that. For me as a pre-vet student it was hard because there were not a lot of us, so the advising wasn’t as good as the pre-med students. They’d often be like, “I really don’t know, but I’ll look it up for you.” That was sometimes a struggle, but overall, I think the professors did care.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
I took a Personalized Medicine and Stem Cell Lab. It was really small and we really got to know the professor. We got to apply our knowledge while also doing our own projects in the lab, and I felt like I was actually doing something worthwhile, so I loved that. I took that my senior year.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Physics, but I got through it.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I knew I wanted to go into medicine after school and I thought biology seemed like a good option because I didn’t really love chemistry or physics and it got me the requirements I needed. Also, when I went into school I was told to be a science major because it’s easier to get your science GPA up and then apply [to veterinary school] because they look at both of your science GPA and your overall GPA. It’s better to be a science major to have all those extra science classes to raise my GPA.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in a double in Hardey on the Newton Campus. We lived on a hall with all girls and shared a bathroom.
Sophomore: I lived in an eight-man suite in Vanderslice Hall on Lower Campus.
Junior: I’ll live in the 2000 Commonwealth Ave. apartments, which are on campus. I had three other roommates. I had one direct roommate.
Senior: Ignacio Hall, which is an apartment with six girls. I had one direct roommate.
What was your favorite living situation?
Sophomore year was a lot of fun just because it was a big transition from just having one roommate to having a suite with eight girls. We got to decorate and stuff. It was a lot of fun. I also think that senior year we had a beautiful apartment. Everything was good. Junior year I lived on the 17th floor of a building so I had views of Boston and the area, which is probably something I’ll never have again.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt not safe in one moment on campus. You almost feel too secure. Kids will walk off and leave their laptop and feel fine. The Chestnut Hill area is a very affluent neighborhood, so the neighbors are walking their dogs through campus. It’s a really open, homey feel.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I love Lolita in Back Bay. It’s a Mexican fusion place.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I volunteered at an animal shelter and I really liked that because I got to interact with the community and animals. I always felt that animals were missing from college, so it was nice to integrate that back in.
How was transitioning from Atlanta to Boston?
My first winter there was record-breaking snow in Boston, and that was a pretty rude awakening. I thought it was going to be a bigger transition, but I really enjoyed it actually. I got a good jacket and it was fine. Yes, it was cold still in April and we had snow in March, but it was kind of a nice change.
Pros and Cons of being in Chestnut Hill, MA?
Pros: (1) You have the campus feel.
(2) The community is really nice, safe, and welcoming to college kids, which is surprising sometimes.
(3) There are a lot of options within that community.
Cons: Boston is a little bit further. It’s an event to go, you can’t just run in one day. Sometimes you find yourself not leaving campus as much, so you have to push yourself more.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I like to go out. Nightlife changed over the years. Freshman year was more so dorm parties and staying on campus and trying to get into parties that upperclassmen were having. Once you turn 21, Boston is a city that becomes an amazing city to be in – it becomes a new world. Freshman and sophomore year were a little bit hard because there were bar parties that you [could not get in to]. Thursday nights were bar nights, and Friday and Saturday were on campus all four years. As a senior, you would start going out on Tuesday night because it was called senior night. There’s a saying at Boston College that every year gets better, and that is definitely true for the social life.
What have been some of your favorite times at BC?
Tailgating was a lot of fun. It’s especially fun senior year because we have these townhouses that seniors live in called The Mods, but you have to be 21+ to get into them for tailgates. It’s this big open area where everyone’s grilling and hanging out. There’s this old established bar that’s a senior bar called Mary Ann’s. It’s a hole in the wall, but it’s such a BC tradition. Those were always funny nights. Freshman and sophomore year, you always had fun doing whatever, you never really had a plan, but it was still some of the best memories.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
We would probably start in someone’s room hanging out. I lived on Newton Campus, so you had to take a bus to the main campus. We’d take the bus and go to a Mod party, which is senior housing, or you would go to someone else’s dorm who lives on the main campus. Juniors live off campus at BC, so you would sometimes go to those houses because they were bigger and could hold more people. As a freshman, it’s hard to get in, especially for boys. They said they’d have to have a ratio of like five girls to one boy to get into a party and stuff like that. I never personally had any problems, I just usually had to know someone to get in.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you liked for a night out?
Boston was so close to our campus. The T basically comes to campus, so it’s so easy to into the city and explore. We’re also in a cool little town that has a big movie theater, shopping, and restaurants so it was easy to find things to do. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted to.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I was happy, but I knew it was a different experience than what my friends have at big SEC schools. I think it fits the BC student because everyone wanted to go out and have fun, but also no one was trying to be crazy. The work hard play hard phrase is true for the Boston College student. It’s also different being in the city of Boston because you have to be a bit more responsible in that sense.
How did you meet your closest friends?
One of my closest friends I met at orientation, we just happened to be in the same group, and I met one of my best friends through her. A lot of the girls on my hall stayed really close freshman year. Then I met the rest through mutual friends.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s not extremely cliquey, but there are some cliques that occur. A lot of the social scene is driven by community service clubs. They’re the ones that will have parties, or the athletes will. Sometimes if you’re not in a club or not involved, you will find yourself trying to figure out what to do that night. It’s not cliquey in the sense that athletes don’t just hang out with each other. You have to know people to find things to do.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I would say Boston College is not a very diverse community, but that’s something they’re striving to fix. [62% of students are White.] There are also [1,751] international students [making up about 19% of the student body]. The students are more inclusive with students of different sexual orientations but, because it’s a Catholic university, the administration struggles with that and there has been a lot of pushback from the students. [See sources: Boston Globe article about LGBTQ life at BC; Boston College Heights article: “History of LGBTQ Community at Boston College.”]
What impact has it being a Catholic school had on your experience?
Originally that deterred me from it because I’m not Catholic. It’s a lot of what you make it to be. There are Theology requirements, but you don’t have to take a Catholic Theology class. I took one that compared Asian religions to Christianity. I think the main point is the Jesuit ideal of serving the community, and I think that is really instilled in the students.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of BC by the time they graduate?
I do, I really do.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not for me personally, but I know it has helped others.
Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
I’m in a unique situation because I’m going to veterinary school, so I haven’t used them very much. Also, I had met my mentors in internships before I had left for school, but my friends who are in business spend a lot of time at the career center. They are very active in helping you if you seek them out.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Boston College before entering as a freshman?
Get involved in as many things as you can because, especially freshman year, things can be pretty selective. If you cast a wide net you’ll find the right people and right group to integrate into.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go into Bapst Library. It looks like Hogwarts and the tours won’t take you there because you’re not allowed to talk.
Reasons to attend Boston College:
1) I think the principles and founding ideas that Boston College has really do shape you into a more thoughtful individual who cares about what their impact is on their community in the future. You don’t realize that until you’ve graduated that that’s occurred.
2) It’s an institution that’s rising in its popularity and prestige and that will open a lot of doors for you.
3) I think the community atmosphere and the people you meet are unique. People are very well rounded and all have varying interests. The people are very important to Boston College.
Reasons to not attend Boston College:
1) If you’re looking for Greek life or a frat lifestyle, that’s not at Boston College.
2) It’s not as diverse of a community. I do know students who have struggled to find who they are and their voice.