An Interview On
Boston University

Background

Interview Date:April 2019

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Chinese-American
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019, transferred in to start junior year
High School Experience: Public school outside of San Francisco, CA with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Environmental Analysis and Policy
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in the Ski Club and I’m doing some outside entrepreneurial projects through some Boston University resources. They have good resources for that kind of stuff.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Well BU’s a very urban school so the Ski Club is great because I have to get out of the city sometimes. That was particularly helpful as far as fun stuff. With any sort of entrepreneurial interests I have, BU has a lot of good resources for that that I’m involved with.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It’s pretty heavy this semester with just exams. My major delves into both the policy and science side of stuff, so I’ve had problem sets and papers in the past. This particular semester it’s mostly exams and studying for those exams. With the core classes, I also have lab work to do, so there is usually a lab write-up due every week.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I have no complaints, I think they’re really good. The professors are really good. They’re really knowledgeable and passionate, and they always are willing to work with students in office hours. We also have decent class sizes too, so you don’t get lost in the classes. The more negative side is that you’re in the city so you can’t go into nature as much here.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s really competitive. It can be pretty intense sometimes. Boston University is known as one of the hardest grading schools. There’s a trend here called grade-deflation. Getting an A in a class here is much harder than it was at my previous school [I transferred from]. Classmates are usually pretty helpful and there is an environment in my major where you can ask people for help or work together in the library. I say it’s competitive because, at least in my circles, there is a lot of stress with getting decent grades. It has its pros and cons because employers know it’s a tough grading school and you learn to keep an agenda where you’re always getting work done. [See The Tab article and CBS News article where B.U. was ranked among the toughest grading in the U.S. and The Daily Free Press article, “Student Government investigates grade transparency.”]

How accessible are your professors?
Very accessible. With the exception of maybe one professor, you can easily meet with them at office hours and email them questions.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Yes, I’m happy with my choice. I chose Environmental Analysis and Policy because I think it’s a pretty pertinent issue. It can be tough with job prospects, which is one of the reasons I’m leaning more towards business stuff this year. It’s a great major and it’s very interesting. I find that there are a lot of people about the subject. If you like science and want something that’s very applicable to the times, I think it’s a good choice. I was originally a Business and Environmental Analysis and Policy double major, but I dropped the Business major but kept that side of things going on.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Junior: Warren Towers with one roommate, which is a terrible dorm that anyone who goes to BU will probably live in. I then moved to West Campus where I had one roommate.

Senior: Bay State Road, which is a strip of apartment style dorms, with one roommate. Bay State is good, especially if you can get it as a sophomore or a junior.

How was transitioning from the Bay Area, CA to Boston, MA in terms of location?
It was tough. It’s a totally different culture. I lived in the suburbs and right here I’m right in the city so that was a tough transition. The East Coast is a lot less chill than California, and you should know about that. The work ethic on the East Coast you can notice, and in that aspect, I don’t regret it at all.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s pretty safe. I’ve never had any issues here. There is the Blue Light System all over campus.

Do you like that BU is a city school?
In terms of job opportunities and stuff like that, it’s great, but I wouldn’t say I’m a city person in general.

Pros and Cons of being in the Fenway area of Boston, MA?
Pros: (1) You’re really close to everything. Fenway Park is right next to you and there is good nightlife nearby. You’re in the middle of Boston, which is cool.
(2) There is public transportation less than a block from campus.
(3) There are plenty of restaurants around.
(4) You’re right on the Charles River, so there are plenty of paths to go walk or run.

Cons: (1) It’s very cold and the winters are brutal.
(2) If you wanted to have a car, it’s not the best place to have a car given that the weather will hurt the car and there isn’t a ton of parking.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I’m 22 so I go to the bars. You can always go see a Bruins, Celtics, or Red Sox game. There are also student discounts at museums, so I’ve done that. There is a house party scene in Allston, which is a town adjacent to BU, but I haven’t participated in it very much. It’s not as good as what you’re going to get at other schools. Those are hosted by Greek life and by clubs.

What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Just the weekends because of class, so Friday and Saturday.

What’s an alternative to going to a bar that you like for a night out?
I like to go to concerts. In the Fenway district there is the House of Blues which is pretty good. When they’re playing, I like to go to the Red Sox games. There are plenty of alternatives on and off campus.

How happy are you with the weekend options at BU? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m satisfied. If I could get out of the city more, I’d love to do that. Anyone coming to BU should be ready for an urban school experience. You’ll be watching your friends who go to state schools and sometimes be disappointed that BU isn’t like that. I wish I had those opportunities for places with a little more privacy, but I don’t.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
My closest friends are people I knew from back home, but I also met a lot of people through Ski Club.

How was transitioning socially as a transfer student? Were there any systems in place to help you adjust?
That was tough honestly. There is a dorm for transfer students called Danielsen Hall. I never did that, but I would suggest somebody transferring in to live there. I wouldn’t say BU has enough resources for transfer students.

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s good. It’s pretty bar-heavy from my experience, but I know it’s much more varied for other people. It’s a very diverse school and there are a lot of different niches that you can fit into here. You can pick out your social scene because of that. [BU’s undergraduate population is about 10% Hispanic, 3% Black, 42% White, and 12% Asian.]

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix on campus?
I thought my previous school mixed a lot more in terms of race. I couldn’t speak to the experience as far as sexual orientation. Even though I would say the school is very accepting of diversity in general, it’s not very mixed. Most of my friends at my old school were White and here I hang out with a lot more Asians.

How strong is the Asian community on campus?
It’s super strong. There are a lot of Asians here.

How would you describe the student body?
The majority of the student body here is pretty focused on work. It’s definitely a school where people work as hard or harder than they play hard. There are a lot of people who are trying to do well and try their hardest.

How do you like the size of BU in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 16,800 undergraduates.]
It’s a big school, really big for a private school. But, it doesn’t really affect class size, which would be my biggest concern as a prospective student. The size of the school just makes it better in terms of the resources and diversity of the school.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not in my case. I know that there is a pretty strong alumni network. BU has a lot of resources for undergraduate students in general. For me, I’m doing entrepreneurial stuff, so we have our own office that you can reach out to. The guy I speak to there has said he can put me in contact with alumni.

Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
I had a job at BU on the medical campus last year which I went through the career office for. They were very helpful.

Have you learned any computer programs through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
We use a lot of R and Excel. R is used in Environmental Science and Excel is used pretty heavily throughout most of my classes.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Boston University before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that there were not many resources for transfer students and that you have to make your own way in terms of that. It’s also a true city school for sure so be ready for an urban lifestyle.

What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would check out the Fenway neighborhood and Allston because you’ll definitely be spending a lot of time in those areas.

Reasons to attend Boston University:
1) You’re in Boston, which is a great place to be as a young person. There are so many college students in Boston, so there’s a lot of youth culture.
2) The resources as far as getting a job. It’s a great place to go for your career. [92% of recent graduates found employment or other placement within six months of graduation.]
3) If you like sports, there’s always stuff going on with the Boston teams.

Reasons to not attend Boston University:
1) Weather. The winters terrible and summer can be really humid.
2) Tuition is high. [Total costs for the 2019-2020 academic year are $72,052.]
3) The grade deflation. [See The Tab article and CBS News article where B.U. was ranked among the toughest grading in the U.S. and The Daily Free Press article, “Student Government investigates grade transparency.”]

Notice: Boston University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Boston University.

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