Five Things I Wish I Knew as a First-Year Student
Five Things I Wish I Knew as a First-Year Student
A rising senior reflects on his time as a first-year and offers advice to incoming students
This year, I will be embarking on my fourth and (hopefully) final year at Boston University. When I’m able to put aside that terrifying fact, I can appreciate how far I’ve come as a college student and how much I was able to learn while walking the streets of Comm Ave. I learned how to find independence in a new city, with an entirely new group of people. I learned how to correctly pronounce CAS without having an angry mob at my doorstep. Perhaps most valuable, I learned how important it is to read every single word in an email before hitting send. Even the recipient’s name.
Especially the recipient’s name.
The truth is, I’m still learning every day at BU. I don’t think you ever stop learning, inside or outside of the classroom. But here’s a list of five things that I probably could have done with knowing a bit sooner at BU. Just to save me a bit of heartache and a whole lot of money.
1. Dining Points and Convenience Points are not the same—and Convenience Points are like gold
If you are like me and assumed Dining Points and Convenience Points are the same prior to entering your first year at BU, I’m going to save you a lot of heartaches and frantic Student Link searches your first semester. Dining Points are given to you with your meal plan. You can use them as money to buy food at the GSU or pick up snacks at CityCo. Depending on your plan, you can get anywhere from a few hundred to over 1,000.
Convenience Points, though, are the lifeblood of freshman year. You’ll never have enough of them. You get about 20 when you enter school, and unlike Dining Points, you don’t get more every year. They can be used to buy food at a few more places around campus, but the all-important reason is for laundry. If you’re short on quarters, Convenience Points are your saving grace. So, if you ever see a school event or promotion that is handing them out, always stop by. Or you may end up like me, frantically adding Convenience Points to my student account at 2 am on a Sunday because I completely forgot to do laundry.
2. Warren and West are both best—it just depends on what you’re looking for
If you haven’t heard someone scream “West is best” at you yet, consider yourself lucky. The battle among first-year housing is one that has raged in all likelihood since the dawn of time. Since you’re probably not getting into Bay State or StuVi in your freshman year, the choices are between West Campus and Warren Towers. For every Warren defender out there, you are as likely to find a just as passionate West supporter on the other side of the BU Bridge, eating Raising Cane’s (commonly known to BU students as “Canes”).
BU’s community is one of the kindest, most gracious, and most respectful communities I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. It is a body of students willing to listen and support you in all of your endeavors.
The reality is, though, they’re both not bad. It really depends on what you’re looking for. Warren is close and always packed with first-year students. It’s a good place to meet people, and you can reach the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) or College of Communication (COM) in record time. West Campus is closer for athletes and partygoers, and (arguably) has a better dining hall. If you’re thinking of taking up sports, or are interested in moving off campus, this is probably the place for you. There is a lot to love about either location, so take some time to think about what you want before you rank them on the Student Link.
Besides, West and Warren fans can both agree that at the very least, it’s not Towers.
(Sorry, Towers, you’re trying your best).
3. There is no football—but BU Hockey is just as good
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, because I technically found out about this prior to moving in, but I think it bears mentioning, mostly because of the big football statue near Agganis Arena. BU unfortunately does not have a football team. So, unless you’re gearing up for a ride down to BC (and let’s be honest, why would you?), you’ll be stuck on campus for the sports season.
But if you’re able to make it just past that statue on a Friday or Saturday evening, you might just find something better. Here are some highlights you might spot if you make it to a hockey game.
- A Dog Pound
- An INSANELY talented pep band
- An opposing team’s sieve
- An abnormally large Boston Terrier we call Rhett
If that does not make you want to check out BU Hockey, then I’ll be honest, I don’t know if you’re cut out for it here.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone for help—the community is here for you
When you come in as a first-year student, it might be tempting to try and stick it out by yourself when you start feeling the pressure. It’s part of being independent, right? You have to sink or swim. I thought the same thing as a freshman, and I did my absolute best to swim. Turns out, I was never really all that good at it on my own.
Almost everyone is going through the same challenges, the same struggles, and the same joys. Keep that in mind as you try to find new friends on campus. You never truly walk alone.
There is a litany of expectations and pressures that you’ll feel in college, many you may not have had to face before. Fortunately, there are many resources available to make sure you get the help you need. BU’s community is one of the kindest, most gracious, and most respectful communities I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. It is a body of students that is willing to listen and support you in all of your endeavors. Even beyond the student body and school officials, there are people in your life that are there to help. Never be afraid to reach out your hand to a trusted friend, administrator, or family member—chances are, they know what you’re going through.
Speaking of which…
5. Almost everyone is in the same position as you—you don’t walk alone
In the fall of 2019, I walked into Questrom’s big lecture hall for my first COM 101 lecture. I was half an hour early, one of three students sitting down. I watched with angst as people poured in and appeared to form ready-made groups of friends at first sight. I took out my laptop and got my notes ready, wondering why I seemed to be the only one in the room without a shred of social skills. It was only when I turned to a person sitting nearby to say hello and they flashed me the same anxious smile I wore on my own face that I knew I wasn’t alone.
There are a lot of moments where you’ll feel like the only person on Comm Ave not fitting in. There will be late Saturday nights when groups of people roam by and you sit sequestered in your room. But you are never in this alone. The one unique thing about being a first-year at BU is that no matter who you are, with few exceptions, you have one thing in common. You are becoming a college student at BU for the first time. Almost everyone is going through the same challenges, the same struggles, and the same joys. Keep that in mind as you try to find new friends on campus. You never truly walk alone.
The first year at BU is an incredibly tough journey for many. It may take you some time to fit in and learn the ropes. But don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to reach out to those around you. We’re all in this together, and the BU community is nothing if not accepting. So, save up your Dining Points, check out a hockey game, and say hi to your neighbors. And above all, enjoy your freshman year!
Well done, Evan. While the details have changed, the general aura reminds me of showing up at what we then called SPC — and moving into what we then called 700 — almost exactly 51 years ago.
Well said and true.
Such a helpful post !
The ‘ask for help’ advice is the best part, but I loved it all. Staff/faculty/other students here do care and want everyone to succeed.