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Advice for Freshmen

university fellowships committee

Now is the time to start. It may seem that fellowships lie too far in your future. Yet it is precisely in your freshman year that you have the most flexibility to shape your years at Boston College in ways that will bring you the most benefit—and set you on the path to the best fellowships.

Boston College's Core courses may occupy much of your first year but you still have choices and decisions. Make a chart for all your semesters and summer breaks while at BC, and sketch out a tentative schedule of when you will do what in the coming years—Is there a required course sequence for your major? Can you fit in an interdisciplinary minor? Will you do a year of foreign study, a semester, or a summer program? Where will an internship fit in? Make an appointment with your faculty adviser well before registration and discuss this tentative schedule.

Even if you have "placed out" of BC's foreign language requirement don't squander what you have accomplished. Foreign language skills are important for many fellowships. Extend your competence with advanced language courses at BC, augment it with courses on the history or politics or art of countries with that language, and consider a community service, internship, or foreign study experience that will help you gain fluency.

Get involved in extracurricular activities including on-campus and community service and varsity or intramural athletics. Soon you should be taking leadership positions in these activities but first join up and be a good apprentice.

Talk with a faculty member about a BC Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Start designing a summer project appropriate for an Advanced Study Grant.

Above all, at every branch in your path—at course registration, at semester and summer breaks, or even when you have a choice of term paper topics—ask yourself (and your faculty mentors) which choice will build on your current strengths and draw together the different parts of your life into a cohesive structure. Just before they graduate, BC students often remark that their senior year was their best year because so many aspects of their lives finally came together in a satisfying way. Aim for this cohesiveness right from the start and you can enjoy this satisfaction all the way through.