BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: I went to a private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Politics and International Affairs
Minor: Environmental Studies
Extracurricular Activities: Club squash, I’m in the Film Club, and I work with the B.C. Dining Office of Sustainability
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Club squash definitely. Because there’s no Greek life at BC, it’s really important to join clubs, particularly club sports, acapella groups, or dance groups. [It’s important to join] groups that practice a lot and form a community because that becomes your social life and you can network with older kids that way. It makes being social a lot easier.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Politics and International Affairs is one of the more difficult humanities majors. It’s a lot of reading, so lots of books, essays, and articles. It’s mostly essays, and they can get really long, like 20-25 pages.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I really like the Politics and International Affairs department at BC. I have a great advisor who knows a lot about the field. The professors are really solid, they’ve written a lot of books and have done a lot of research in the real world. I’m pretty new to the major, so I don’t know as much about the department as I will in the future. It’s a difficult major, but it’s worth it if you like the topic.
Overall, I would highly recommend that freshmen participate in the Core Pilot Classes. It’s a thing that BC is trying out where two high up professors will teach a class together that’s worth the amount of credits for two classes and it knocks out core requirements for freshmen and they are only open to freshmen. They’re super interesting classes, they’re always on really cool topics. I took one on American Film and Social Problems.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Within BC, I don’t find that it’s very competitive. I think students are willing to and want to collaborate. I’m in a lot of study groups for different courses. We share notes and study together, and that’s really common. In Politics and International Affairs, I think it’s slightly more competitive, but, overall, it’s not a competitive school.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
It’s actually an International Studies course but it counts for the major. It’s called International Environmental Science and Policy. It was super difficult. There were hundreds of pages of reading and reading summaries due every class, but it was really worth it because I learned a lot.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I used to be a Psychology major but then I realized that it was not very applicable to any career that I really wanted, so I chose Politics and International Affairs because I want to go into environmental policy and, potentially, law school.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in a double in Duchesne on the Newton Campus. There are two places the freshmen can be: Upper Campus, which is on campus and really close to classes and everything, and then Newton Campus is off-campus and you have to take a 15-minute-long bus ride to campus. It’s super weird. Newton campus is the law school campus, so it’s freshmen and law school students sharing a campus. I really enjoyed it. There’s a joke about how Newton has more of a community, but I think it’s true. You meet people on the bus and the dining hall is smaller and only freshmen, so it’s not intimidating at all if you don’t have anyone to sit with and want to meet new people. Going to class on a bus was super annoying, but it’s only one year. My best friends were my floormates.
Sophomore: I lived in an eight-man suite in Walsh Hall. It’s known to be a dingy, gross building, but where a lot of parties are. It’s a lot of fun.
Junior: I’ll live in the 2000 Commonwealth Ave. apartments, which are on campus. Most students only get three years of housing and live off campus junior year. That’s supposed to be really fun because you get your own house and there are a lot of parties off campus, but I got four years so it’s easier to live on campus.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
BC is in a suburb called Chestnut Hill, so I feel really safe walking around campus at night. I wouldn’t want to walk on Commonwealth Ave. too late by myself, but if I’m with one or two people it’s not a big deal. It’s a really safe area.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
If we’re talking close to campus, there’s a tapas restaurant called Barcelona that’s a 15-minute walk from campus. It’s our favorite spot, we go there all the time.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The Boston Public Library has really great public spaces and a really nice garden. I’ll study for finals there sometimes which is really nice.
Pros and Cons of being in Chestnut Hill, MA?
Pros: (1) It’s super accessible to Boston. There’s a subway station right off of campus and it takes about 20-30 minutes to get into the city by subway. It’s wonderful, it’s been so important to my experience.
(2) There are a lot of smaller shops and restaurants right off campus.
Cons: If you would like to be right in the city, I would suggest Boston University which is right in the city.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
It’s kind of weird at BC, especially freshman year. When you’re in the freshman dorms there’s no place to really hold all freshman parties and there’s no Greek life. You have to know older kids to get into parties sometimes, not all the time, but on occasion. Parties are held in off-campus houses, [sophomore] eight-man suites, and senior housing. I wouldn’t recommend BC for anyone who is interested in the state school-esque, really vibrant party life. It’s more low-key with exciting things happening from time to time. For me, it’s perfect. I never find myself not having something to do, but it’s more low-key.
What have been some of your favorite times at BC?
Some of my favorite times have been club sports formals. They’re so fun. You bring a date or a friend and everyone gets dressed up. Pretty much every group has one and they’re really fun. Besides that, I love Boston. Boston has been one of the best parts of my experience. My friend group loves food, so we all go out to eat in Boston. It’s so fun to be able to go into bars and restaurants.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
It was very spontaneous and really fun. Everyone wants to meet people and make friends, so you’d go to another small dorm party and meet people. Then you would all go out and either someone knows someone or somewhere to go, or you try some random place. It’s always a gamble. To be honest, it was frustrating sometimes, and a lot of people were really frustrated with the social life freshman year, but it gets better really fast. Sophomore year is one of the most fun years. You just have to make the most of freshman year and know you won’t always be able to get in where you want or be able to go out. Just hang in there.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it. Freshman year was not the best, but now sophomore year people are a lot more well connected. Sophomores can also have parties in their eight-man suites, so there’s always somewhere to go. As you get older, going out to bars in Boston is so fun. There were a lot of people who came in expecting a huge happening nightlife and were disappointed freshman year, but that’s not really me. I’m okay with it, and I’ve had a pretty good time.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My closet friends I either met freshman year on my floor or in my building, or on club sports teams I met a lot of my best friends that way, and, lastly, I met some of my best friends in my freshman classes.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s [9,358 undergraduates], but it feels smaller because you get into groups and networks. You also see the same people out, which I like because if I meet someone in a random place and I want to see them again, chances are you probably will. It’s fun, I really like the social life. It’s the right balance for me.
How would you describe the student body?
It’s a lot of kids from Massachusetts [26.1%], New York [16.4%], New Jersey [11.8%], and Connecticut [8.3%]. It can be kind of preppy, but there is some diversity in self-expression. In general, the kids aren’t very politically active there. There are not a lot of protests on campus. It’s a good mix of progressive and conservative students. I came from a high school where everyone was liberal, and going to BC I was surprised by how many conservative kids there were. But, I think it’s good to have balance and challenging opinions. I’m very environmentally minded, so I’m disappointed that the student body isn’t as environmentally minded and uses a lot of plastic and disposable silverware.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
BC is not the most diverse school, and that can be really frustrating at times because I would like to see more of that. [62% of students are White]. It seems that the administration is trying to change that. I have a lot of friends from different languages, and I love hearing my friends speak Spanish. That is something that BC needs to work on.
Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
It’s been great. I’ve been using the career center a lot. Sophomore year they have a three-day retreat that’s only for sophomores in the college of arts and sciences. I did that and it was so helpful. They had BC alumni from all different fields come in and I was able to meet people who worked at the EPA and who work at an environmental consulting and environmental law firms. I was able to network with them and I’m still in touch with some of them. I also went to the career center for help with finding an internship and found one. They also helped me with my resume and cover letters. I really took advantage of it and I recommend that kids do that because it’s super helpful.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Boston College before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about what the student body was really like. I was really scared it was going to be very Catholic and religious, but it’s really not. It’s there if you want it. I have friends who will go to mass every Sunday, but I don’t and a lot of people don’t. I also wish I’d known more of what to expect from the social scene, which is kind of what I described. It’s sporadic freshman year and you need to join clubs and get to know people so that you can be well connected.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Boston. I visited BC twice and didn’t actually go into Boston and didn’t know what it was about. Now it’s a huge part of my college experience and I can’t imagine going to college anywhere else. You get so much more than just the campus. I would also recommend seeing Lower Campus because I don’t think they take you there on the tour. That’s where the dining hall and dorms are.
Reasons to attend Boston College:
1) Boston is the best.
2) The professors and the classes have been fantastic. There hasn’t been a class that I haven’t enjoyed here even though I have to take core courses.
3) There are fantastic people here from all different backgrounds.
Reasons to not attend Boston College:
1) If you want a more progressive and politically active student body, you might be disappointed. It’s a mix of liberals and conservatives.
2) The liberal arts education requires that you take a lot of core courses. I personally don’t have a problem with that because I’m interested in a lot of different things and like the liberal arts education, but a lot of people complain about that.
3) If you want a good football school or a big party school, BC isn’t the place for you. Our football team isn’t that good if you really care about that. Social life also isn’t always what you want it to be or as wild as you want it to be.