To the members of the incoming Boston College Class of 2023 reading this, I extend to you a warm welcome. Also, good for you for even finding this article and for getting a head start on your campus research.
If you’re like me, an avid and anxious Internet user who must know every documented fact about something before I arrive, you’ll find The Gavel’s website to be a great place to browse (see our Declassified BC Survival Guide).
Shameless plugs aside, wherever your mind is at as you start your last summer before college, I can promise you sincerely that you will find something at BC that will please and energize you. I’m a firm believer in that. However, the journey to get there isn’t always as easy as it is advertised to be.
First of all, things are going to be real different, real soon. Almost across the board, the consensus is that extracurricular involvement in college is much different than that during high school. You seemingly have more free time, but you also have more schoolwork, which can sometimes mean less time to spend doing things truly joyful and energizing.
It will be incredibly simple and almost automatic to sign your name on as many club information sheets as possible during the Student Involvement Fair, but as time wears on, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find yourself asking, “What am I really doing with my time?”
If you’re anything like me, the answer to that question, at first, will be “not too much,” accompanied by a nervous chuckle. It was so frustrating. I was at a world-renowned university with tons of excited upperclassmen inviting me to join the organizations that brought them purpose.
The options were endless! It never ceases to amaze me how driven BC students are. For any particular interest or need you may have, there is almost always a resource or establishment already on campus that meets it.
However, at least for me, the more there is to choose from, the less likely you are to choose something.
Around January, things took a turn. Quite truthfully, I think what made things different was a retreat I went on called LeaderShape (sorry for plug number two) during winter break. For the first time, I felt as if I belonged and as if there indeed was the opportunity to meet people who shared my passions and attitudes. Coming back to school to start my second semester, I felt refreshed and open to the incredibly plentiful opportunities to connect with other people and be more social.
I felt reassured that the capacity for real conversation was present. Now, as the clock ticks to the end of my first year of college, I can confidently feel that I am walking away with a handful of good friends.
The formula for finding your niche is unique to every student. Despite this, there are some key facets to my story that I feel can be universal. My biggest piece of advice is to let your heart guide you. Do what you feel is right, what you feel that little voice in your mind is driving you to do.
For me, this was LeaderShape, but for you, it could be any number of different things. This will likely be the place that will open doors for you and help you to feel comfortable in this new and unfamiliar place. What you should avoid is loading up almost every evening with a different meeting until you find something that “clicks.” By all means, explore new things, but I would say to pick two or three new things that you feel particularly attracted to.
This will, of course, take some reflection, which you’ll hear a lot about in your four years here. I’m not saying that the time I spent feeling as if I had nothing to do was a high point in my year, but it definitely helped me realize that I needed to find something that made me feel fulfilled.
Returning to my first point, I would like to firmly emphasize that there is a way for you to make BC your home away from home. It may certainly take time to find, but it will take less time if you search the right way.
Do not feel uncomfortable talking to a faculty member, an upperclassman mentor, or even your roommate about your feelings and emotions during your first few months of college. Companions on the journey can be helpful through their recommendations and their empathy alike.
Additionally, small groups of fellow classmates—be they found through some sort of mentorship program or a service group like Appa—can be great resources.
Hopefully, this nugget of wisdom and others on the web provide a bit of comfort and guidance as you continue your research. Remember to always validate yourself and your thoughts. From my heart to yours, I wish you a fabulous first year on the Heights!