Madison Polkowitz / Gavel Media

Your Guide to Freshman Year, Tour Guide Approved

The best four years of your life. That’s what so many people told me before I made my seemingly-life-altering decision to attend Boston College. Now, as a rising senior, the supposed best four years of my life are almost over and I’m stuck wondering where the time has gone. There are lessons I’ve learned early and some too late. There are people I’ve grown close with and others further apart. There are passions I’ve followed and others I’ve neglected. Looking back upon my past three years at BC, I’ve grown immensely, but not everything was outlined in black and white. Not everything was planned. As a self-identified Type-A Capricorn, that sounds like a disaster. The summer before my freshman year at BC, I was one of those kids who researched anything and everything that I could get my hands on to ensure I was entirely (mostly) prepared for what being an Eagle had in store for me. If you’re like me, you’ve probably read about everything from the million dollar stairs (and how to avoid them) to some non-traditional traditions (I’m talking to you about Strip Mod).

Now, if you’re not like me and did not scour Gavel articles and YouTube for all things BC life, then you’re in luck. I’m here to tell you some tips you may not have heard on your BC tour. Hopefully, it'll help prepare you for one of the best years of your life.

Eagle ID

Behold, a magical card that is necessary for more things than you may realize. In addition to using your card to get into your dorm, your Eagle ID is also your way of paying for food in the dining halls and other eateries on campus. You can also use it for vending machines, concession stands, printing, the bookstore, and laundry. City Co and Flatbreads off campus also take Eagle Bucks, and don’t forget about using it for discounts when ordering late night Dominos with the code “GOBC.” My biggest tip is to ask stores if they have student discounts (as many offer at least 15% off). If you’re in the mood for the more cultured things in life, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum allow free admission with your BC ID. If you lose your ID be sure to head to Student Services in Lyons Hall for a replacement. Also, bring some money because it costs $30.

Student Involvement

No Greek life? No problem. I always tell my tour groups that I, of course, don’t know what it’s like going to a school with Greek life, but not having it gives me the ability to really customize my interests and activities. At the beginning of every new academic year is the Student Involvement Fair. With over 200 organizations, this can be one of the more daunting events as a freshman, but have no fear, it’s also one of the best opportunities to delve right into student life. My biggest advice is to go into it with an open mind and willingness to join some clubs that may put you a little outside of your comfort zone. Freshman year is all about exploring your likes and dislikes and trying new activities.

Aspiring singer beyond the boundaries of your shower? Try one of BC’s a cappella groups! Wannabe dance star? Make the auditions for a dance team of your choice, ranging from cultural dance groups to hip hop and everything in between. Great at making people laugh? Try out for a comedy club! (Did you know Amy Poehler was once a member of the improv group My Mother’s Fleabag?) There is seriously a seemingly endless amount of organizations to join; from the arts and politics to sports and culture, there’s bound to be at least one organization that catches your interest.

Service organizations are also a huge part of many students' lives at BC. During my freshman year I joined Appalachia Volunteers, a spring break service immersion program that takes you and your team to a US location in the Appalachian region. It was honestly one of the best experiences I have had during my time at BC so far. There are several service groups to choice from; however, some do have applications, but don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to participate the first time you apply. When it comes to student involvement, my best advice is to not be afraid to follow your true passions. If you have the slightest bit of desire to join a club, attend the first few meetings and see what it’s all about. Who knows, someday you may be sitting on the Executive Board with your very best friends.

To see a full list of all of BC’s clubs click here, and make sure to stop by The Gavel’s table at the involvement fair!

Athletics

One major non-negotiable for me when deciding on colleges revolved around athletics, and attending a school like BC with NCAA D1 teams was definitely a plus. Before you can attend any of the games, make sure to purchase the BC Gold Pass if you know you’ll be going to more than a few. It’s $200 for the entire year but definitely worth it. Football games are essential to the fall so bring your SuperFan shirt and best chanting voice for our fight song. Pro Tip: Tailgating in the Mods is restricted to 21+ only on football game days, so crash your friend’s parents' tailgate or pregame it up on Upper or Newton if that’s your vibe. Become the #1 BC Athletics fan by signing in to all the games you attend through the Gold Pass App and rack up as many points as possible. Tickets for high profile games like the annual Beanpot tournament are given to students based on the amount of points they've accumulated. You can also win Under Armour swag with enough points. Attend some hockey games later in the semester and be sure to learn the sieve chant. Also, don’t forget to check out other sports teams at BC during the year, and please throw some love to our women’s hockey team. (Did I mention they’ve got some Gold Medal Olympians?) Finally, if there’s one thing you should remember, it’s EAGLES ON THE WARPATH HOO HAH! (Just kidding, but I'm trying to bring it back, OK?)

Academic Support

During my first few weeks at BC, I discovered that the professors here really do want you to succeed, and they’re usually more than willing to help you along the way. Every professor has set office hours and if you can’t make them, just send an email or ask in class when he or she is available. Even if you don’t have a class-related question, stop by their office just to say hello. Something I learned over the years is that establishing relationships with professors whom you really like and trust is extremely important, especially when it comes to looking for internships and jobs or applying to graduate school. It’s also really nice to know an adult on campus that can give you professional advice and help you with your first year (and beyond).

Speaking as a CSOM student, there are several other opportunities to get to know professors, including Dean’s Coffee on Wednesdays in Fulton Hall and the Lunch with a Professor Program. If you’re looking for additional support with classes, reach out to your designated advisor and take advantage of the free tutoring in the Connors Family Learning Center.

When it comes to studying and doing homework, make sure you stay organized and follow the syllabus. Your first year at BC isn’t going to be a breeze, but as we like to say, work hard, play hard. And don’t be hesitant to ask for help along the way, whether it’s from an advisor, professor, tutor, or upperclassman.

Annual Events and Traditions

Probably my favorite tidbits to hear about on college tours were the universities' traditions. Here on the Heights, we are most definitely not at a shortage of them. Over my three years at BC, I have discovered all the official—and not-so-official—BC traditions and events. Allow me to break them down for you.

Convocation

Convocation is your official welcome to BC, where you march with your fellow residence hall members through campus and enjoy a keynote speech in Conte.

Homecoming

Head over to Alumni Stadium and cheer on BC Football during the Homecoming game, and don’t forget to buy a ticket to the Homecoming Dance where you and your fellow Eags dress to the nines. Past venues include Gillette Stadium and The State Room.

Fall Concert

One of Campus Activities Board (CAB)'s annual events, the fall concert (also known as Stokes Set), is held on Stokes Lawn. It’s a great way to get together with new friends and enjoy some music from performers such as MisterWives or Nico & Vinz.

Parents' Weekend

Parents' Weekend is a fun way to reconnect with your family if you’re feeling a little homesick. Share your BC life so far with them and make sure to snag a ticket to Pops on the Heights.

Red Bandanna Run

Join the community in honoring '99 BC graduate Welles Remy Crowther who died a hero on 9/11 while saving others’ lives. He later became known as “The Man in the Red Bandanna.” (I watched a video of his story every year in high school and it was truly amazing coming to BC and seeing his legacy in action.)

The Strip Mod

Sorry I teased you in the first paragraph until now (see what I did there *wink* *wink*). The Strip Mod is something I found out about during one of my intense research sessions the summer before my freshman year. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. Some BC dudes of Mods 27A and 27B dancing and stripping in the cold, usually to Christmas tunes and in front of a massive crowd. This is definitely one of the most confusing traditions at BC but hey, I’m not complaining. If you’re really curious, check this out. Looking to snag a front row view without having to arrive hours early? The top level of the Comm. Ave garage is the place to be. No judging.

Christmas Tree Lighting

If you didn’t already realize, BC is a Jesuit Catholic school, and the Christmas Tree Lighting is a very special BC event. Whether you’re Catholic or not, join your peers and revel in the beauty of lights and music at this ceremony kicking off the holiday season.

Plexapalooza

Plexapalooza is another concert thrown by CAB during the beginning of the second semester. The main act usually has an EDM/electronic vibe. Last year, Cheat Codes came and brought the Plex to life.

Beanpot

With enough Gold Pass points, you can watch the BC men's hockey team compete against BU, Harvard, and Northeastern at TD Garden during the first two Monday nights in February. Bring your best cheering voice because a little healthy rivalry is a good thing.

Marathon Monday

Arguably the most long-awaited day of the year, BC students definitely make the most out of this holiday (Yes, it really is a holiday aka Patriots Day aka the day commemorating the first battle of the American Revolutionary War). Start your day on the early side by drinking at sunrise and head down to Heartbreak Hill later on to cheer on some of the most determined athletes in the world. Remember: It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Showdown

It’s basically Pitch Perfect but with dancing and it’s a must. Watching YouTube videos of popular dance groups on campus like Sexual Chocolate and Synergy got me hyped about this event and I knew I had to attend. You’ll get to experience the incredible talent of your peers and feel energized throughout the rest of the night.

Mudstock

Before Modstock, there’s Mudstock. Gather your friends and pray your team is picked to compete in a very muddy volleyball game in the Mod Lot. It’s a huge mess but tons of fun.

Modstock

By the time Modstock rolls around, you know it’s almost the end of the year. Jam out in the Mod Lot to artists that probably had their biggest hit in the 90s, but no shade, it’s a fun time.

Now with a little more knowledge and a little less time, you’re on your way to becoming an official Eagle. Best of luck to all of you and I hope you make the absolute most of your first year!

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