Frankie Mancini / Gavel Media

First-Year Students Reflect on a Year of Growth

At Boston College, reflection is highly encouraged and can be seen nearly everywhere you turn. Housing events are used to check in on how students’ years are progressing, retreats dedicate ample time to introspection, and the classroom setting, of course, welcomes this deeper pattern of thinking. It is only natural, then, as another school year comes to a close, for students to reflect on the events of the last nine months.

For every class year, this type of contemplation holds a different significance. Seniors look back over four long years, anxiously anticipating their adult lives. On the other end of the spectrum, freshmen—or should we say rising sophomores—reach the startling realization that, though it feels as if they have only just entered their college careers, after May they will already be a quarter of the way through. This is the bittersweet essence of university—rigorous, extremely fun, and over all too soon.

The process of growth that occurs between August and May for first-year students rivals that of any other college year. Sure, people go abroad, take on internships, make new friends… but there is arguably nothing quite like navigating those first few months away from home and living to tell the tale. Not to mention, realizing that “home” now holds a different meaning (and perhaps encompasses multiple locations) than it did just a year before. As BC prepares to welcome the new Class of 2023, we decided to talk to a few current first-year students as they ride out the last few weeks of the semester.

Aidan Collins, MCAS ‘22

What aspect of college has been the most surprising compared to your original expectations?

“Coming into BC, I thought I would be the odd one out for not having decided my major, or what I wanted to do in life. After a year, I don’t think people are as grown-up as we’re expected to be. I’ve found plenty of people without direction, from freshmen to seniors. Frankly, I’ve found that most people don’t really know what’s going on in life, which I guess is comforting.”

Riley DeMuth, CSOM ‘22

What’s one major takeaway you’ve gained from freshmen year?

“Class-wise, when working with other students, it’s important to get used to learning about their perspectives and prior education. Adapting to those when working on group projects and engaging in class conversations is really helpful. Being cognizant of different perspectives going forward, in different classes, is important to me.”

Jane Langan, MCAS ’22

When was the first time that BC started to feel like home to you?

“At one of the home football games—the first or second or third—basically because you know you can walk around anywhere outside the stadium or by the Mods or the Plex, and anyone at the tailgates will welcome you and give you food. Once you’re in the stands it doesn’t matter either, because you’re all one big community cheering for your sports team.”

Grace Christenson, MCAS ‘22

What about BC has impressed you the most? Are there any areas where you would like to see BC make improvements?

“OK, so I’ve been thinking about this, and I would say the thing about BC that has impressed me the most is the caliber of professors teaching classes here. These men and women are incredibly gifted—not just as academics, but also as teachers—and are so willing to share their knowledge and help students, which makes attending classes that much more enjoyable. As far as areas of improvement, I think that BC has room to grow in terms of fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity, which already seems to be a priority for both student leaders and the administration. So I’m hopeful that during my time here, I will get to see our campus improve in that regard.”

Hunter Buss, CSOM ‘22

What is one of the best decisions you have made this past year?

“Getting involved with clubs on campus for sure. I’ve met a lot of my friends through CSA (the Chinese Students Association) and KSA (the Korean Students Association), and they hold a lot of events that I often go to. They also create ‘families’ within the community that are made of different grades, and it becomes a family on campus. Also, of course, the best decision was to join the Heightsmen.”

Gabi Prostko, MCAS ‘22

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing on move-in day, what would it be?

“If I could tell myself one thing on move-in day, I think it’d just be that everything works out! That’s super basic, I know, but I would just want to calm myself down and quell my fears and anxieties. I would tell myself about my friends here, all the cool experiences I’ve had, and the classes I’ve taken that I’ve loved. I would tell myself that I’ve finally decided on a major, and somehow on the way stumbled into a minor I never would have expected to have, which I’m super excited about! Just kind of summed up as, ‘Calm down, you’ve got nothing to worry about.’”

Whether or not anyone is prepared, the inevitable end of classes has arrived. Commencement lies just weeks away and, further out, orientation will welcome the newest Eagles to campus. Nostalgia is natural for all, as boxes are packed and plane tickets home are purchased. Perhaps one of the best ways to come to terms with such changes is this process of retrospective reflection.

A lot can happen in a year. What will come to mind when someone from home asks, “How’s BC?” The subsequent mirage of memories will be different for every student. Freshmen, compared to seniors, have noticeably shorter highlight reels and another three years with which to fill them. College is a journey, one with multiple stages that should be embraced for all they are worth. It is not by literally counting the semesters, but by learning from each, that we make them count.

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