Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An important Q+A inspires me to return

I've been slacking on the blogging lately - sorry everyone! Final exams are one week away, and as a result I've been scrambling to get caught up on my reading, work on my papers, and finalize my summer plans.

But I was inspired to post again when a reader sent me an email asking an important question about BC.

The emailer asked me about the sense of community at BC. Specifically, he wanted to know whether BC felt like a community, or just a bunch of people going to college in the same place.

My answer:

"First and foremost, congratulations on being admitted to [School X] and to BC. Both are great schools and whenever someone has a tough decision like this, it’s because they have multiple great choices to pick from.

Honestly, in my opinion, nothing defines what it means to be a BC person more than cultivating a sense of community. BC was founded by underprivileged sons of immigrants. They became successful by looking out for fellow BC grads and creating a great network that allowed the university to flourish. If it weren’t for the strong sense of community that has always existed at BC, we never would have risen to the level that we’re at today.

So, in short: yes! A sense of community is a big part of what makes BC what it is, and you’ll find it on service trips all across America and around the world, in cultural clubs and organizations that create vibrant life on campus, or at Conte Forum cheering on the Eagles.

Good luck with your decision-making process and take full advantage of your opportunities wherever you end up going."

**An important addition to the above: The idea of the BC community extends well beyond the students and alums! One of my favorite things about BC is that the staff - from the faculty, to the maintenance workers, to the dining staff, to the admissions office, to the coaches and trainers in the athletics office - all share a deep commitment to doing their part to make BC a better place. You'll find a fierce loyalty among BC employees and that dedication enriches the life for all of us on campus.


Joe Gravellese
Boston College 2010

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Disneyland, Chestnut Hill?

Yesterday was one of the busiest days of the year in the admissions office. As I waited in the office to give my tour, one of the admissions counselors came over and said something to the effect of "it feels like Disneyland in here... we need a tram to get everyone around to where they have to go."

While the big groups can be a little overwhelming at first as we divide them up in to tour groups of 40-50, I enjoy the larger tours. Ultimately, it means that a) more people are interested in learning about BC, and b) the groups ask a broader range of questions, which always makes giving tours more fun.

The big spring crowds are yet another sign that summer is approaching in Chestnut Hill. I've finally put my winter jacket in the back of the closet, and I feel confident in saying that it's not coming back out.

Summer in Boston is mind-blowingly beautiful - from strolling through the streets of the great city, to relaxing in Boston Common, to just sitting outside enjoying the warm weather. Winter is tough here, but the spring and summer are amazing.

I'm still a bit out of school mode after my relaxing Easter break. Yesterday was my first day back in class, but I only have one class on Tuesdays, so I'm not entirely in the groove yet.

BC ' 10

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A welcome break

Sorry that I haven't posted since Monday. It's been a busy week. Luckily, we are in the midst of a nice little break - we get off from Holy Thursday through Easter Monday, so most students take advantage of the extra-long weekend to go home and spend the holiday with their families.

This week was pretty much dedicated to making progress on my term papers. I have two major papers to complete this semester - one for Mass Communication Theory and another for Rhetorical Criticism. My Criticism paper is comparing the rhetorical techniques used by President Obama to those used by FDR during the Great Depression. I haven't finalized my topic for my other paper yet (oops).

My presentation for the American Culture War Seminar that I mentioned in my last post went quite well. The class was entirely composed of student presentations, plus Q+A sessions afterward - and it was one of the best classes of the semester. We had good, thought-provoking discussions on the debates over stem cell research, welfare, school vouchers, and more.

Next week looks less crazy than this past week, so I will definitely give a few updates throughout the week.

Good luck to all of those deliberating where they'll be enrolling in the fall.

Joe, BC '10

Monday, April 6, 2009

Still got some catching up to do...

I usually don't refer to Sunday as "Sunday." I always refer to it as "catch up" day. Everyone seems to be catching up on something: sleep (always a good thing), homework (Sundays are usually the day when O'Neill Library is its fullest), cleaning up around the room.

But since yesterday was such a nice day, I didn't do much catching up.

I spent the morning and early afternoon with Josh, my Little Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer program. Josh is a middle-school student living in downtown Boston. We went bowling, went out to lunch, and played catch for a while. It's nice to just talk about kid stuff once every two weeks or so.

Later in the day, my girlfriend and I took my laptop outside, sat under a tree, and watched a DVD of season 2 of The Office (exciting stuff, I know).

Once 5 PM rolled around and it started to get chilly out, I scrambled to get out my books and get as much work done as possible.

Every Sunday night, I work at Corcoran Commons dining hall from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., serving everyone's favorite meal of the day - "Late Nite," which consists of chicken fingers, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, buffalo chicken sandwiches, barbeque chicken wraps, and all of that wholesome, healthy stuff. I enjoy my job, and I enjoy the pay, but it means that while everyone else spends their Sunday nights cramming in the library, I'm working in the dining hall.

Corcoran Commons is the largest dining hall on campus; it's also the best place to go for "healthy" late night dining

Thus, I was only able to make a small dent in my pile of tasks for the night. I finished my news story for the Boston Metro newspaper, which I write for about twice a week. I also conducted an interview for my other writing job - I'm a staff writer for EagleInsider.com, an independent online magazine covering BC Athletics.

My story about last week's Bruins game in the Boston Metro. Clearly, I'm such a big deal...;)
The accessibility of Boston provides countless opportunities for internships and job opportunities, and BC's career center helps students through that entire process.

I then prepared my oral presentation for the class I'll be heading to in about 35 minutes, the American Culture War Seminar with one of BC's most famous professors, Alan Wolfe. I need to give a brief but insightful presentation on a 'culture war' topic of my choosing - in this case, school vouchers. It's not an opinion-based presentation; rather, it's an analysis of how people think about the issue, why people think the way they do, and what the debate says about American politics.

I started studying for my French exam, but most of that got put off 'til this morning, when I crammed for about 3 hours with my books and my laptop out at the dining hall over a nutritious breakfast of Corn Pops and tea.

It's off to the Culture War class now... I'll check in with an update on how my presentation went when it's over.

Looking toward the beautiful city of Boston from the quad at BC on a much, much sunnier day than today.

Go Eagles! (...and Red Sox. It's Opening Day, sort of - it got rained out, so the Red Sox begin their '09 season tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. Boo.)


Easter Week

Hi, everyone.

I can't believe we're already almost a week into April! The year has been flying by, and it's strange to think that almost a quarter of my college experience is over. We've been having some really nice weather here lately, so the spring has definitely arrived. Unfortunately, today it's raining, and I had a Day Visit student; I felt so bad that she had to walk around with me in the rain and wind!

This week is a big week for the class of 2012. Tomorrow and Wednesday are class registration days for next semester, and Wednesday is the first housing lottery for sophomore year. My friends and I are hoping to get an 8-man (as are most freshmen); of course, many more people apply than can be accommodated, so we are hoping for the best.

We also have off Thursday, Friday, and Monday for the Easter holidays, so I will be heading home for about 5 days. Then, when we get back, we have less than a month left before finals, and none of the weeks are full, five-day weeks! I am so excited for Marathon Monday on the 20th; it's approaching fast. Last weekend I saw a practice marathon going down Comm. Ave. and really started to get excited. Basically everyone here is excited; it's a pretty popular conversation topic lately.

Okay, I'm off to History. I hope everyone has a great week. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Senior year, staring me in the face

Good morning, future Eagles. My name is Joe Gravellese. I'm a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, double-majoring in political science and communications. I'm a proud native of Revere, MA, a city located about 15 miles from BC - so that makes me the token local guy. I'm also the newest BC blogger. I have joined the admissions blogging brigade for two reasons:
  1. The people who contribute to these blogs do a great job, and I really enjoy reading them - so I wish they posted more often. I tend to get very excited (maybe a little too excited?) about writing and blogging, so I plan on posting here at least every other day.
  2. When I was a senior in high school, I was mostly interested in hearing from college freshmen, and I'm sure that's the case for most of you, as well. But trust me: you want to hear from upperclassmen, too. Think about how fast high school has gone by; multiply that by about 50,000, and that's how quickly college goes. I feel like I was just in your shoes - but now, here I am, staring senior year in the face. So like I said, you want to hear from upperclassmen. I hope to give you an inside look at my journey through my final year at BC, and discuss my forays into the dreaded "real world" away from Chestnut Hill.
As I mentioned, I love writing and blogging, so expect posts to hit on a little bit of everything having to do with life at BC - from what I had for lunch today, to what I learned in Mass Communication Theory class, to what internships or jobs I'm searching for, to how the Boston College baseball team is faring in the ACC.

This is a good time to start blogging. My goal is to eventually take you inside senior year, and my senior year unofficially began yesterday with two important events: the housing lottery, and fall class registration.

Once you get past freshman year, you have the privilege of choosing who you want to live with as an upperclassman; additionally, as a rising senior, you have a plethora of fantastic residence halls to choose from.

But the housing lottery has its perils. A word of advice: try to make an even-numbered group of friends. For senior year housing, you can assemble a 4-man or a 6-man group for a suite or an apartment. Literally 3 minutes before the deadline for the 6-man apartment lottery, my group had 5 people. Thankfully, we found one more roommate at the last minute using the online roommate search feature - a really convenient tool that the Office of Residential Life has to help upperclassmen fill out housing groups. (And, oddly enough, our newest roommate is someone I know well - I competed against him in high school debate, and have run into him many times at BC).

Our run of good luck continued, as we were blessed with one of the earliest picks in the lottery, and got our first choice - a room on the second floor of Ignacio Hall.

Home sweet home in '09-'10: Ignacio Hall.

Most of the early picks in the housing lottery spring for "the Mods" - modular apartments located in the heart of Lower Campus. They are very appealing, as the Mods have backyards - perfect for barbecues, especially on football game days.

But in the end, we decided that the spacious apartments in Ignacio were right for us, as Ignacio is about as centrally located as a residence hall can get. We'll pretty much have a 2 minute walk to classes, a 2 minute walk to Corcoran Commons dining hall (where I work on Sunday and Monday nights), and a 5 minute walk to Conte Forum, BC's hockey and basketball arena. Needless to say, I'm already excited.

The Mods, located on lower campus, are a popular choice for senior housing, as each comes with its own little backyard.

I also registered for my fall semester classes, which made the impending reality of senior year really set in. I still need to complete my core requirements in philosophy and foreign language, so I enrolled in Philosophy of the Person, and Intermediate French I.

My communications major is pretty much all done, but I took an extra communications elective anyway - a course called "Persuasion," with one of BC's best professors, Bonnie Jefferson. I've had Dr. Jefferson twice already, and both times were great learning experiences. She's so adept at blending classic texts, traditional political speeches, and modern popular culture (movies, commercials, YouTube clips) into a coherent course on rhetoric and mass communication. If you get here, I highly recommend taking any of her classes.

My other two classes finish off my second major, political science; I've taken a whole bunch of American politics classes, but I need to fulfill my requirements in comparative and international politics. Thus, I'm taking Rise and Rule of Islamic States, and The United Nations & International Security. Both topics seem important and interesting, although they also both seem to be pretty difficult, with a lot of reading and writing. (But if I didn't want to be buried in reading and papers, I probably should have chosen a different major - so no complaints.)

Oh, something else happened yesterday as well that seemed to signify a sort of unofficial passage into senior year - the BC women's basketball team's season sadly ended with an 82-65 loss to the University of South Florida in the semifinals of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (NIT). With that loss, all of BC's winter sports teams are done for the year - meaning no more trips to Conte Forum until next fall. :(

Conte Forum is now dormant until hockey and basketball start again in October and November, respectively.

Thankfully, the BC baseball team is off to their best start in years. They have a 17-9 record so far, including 2 wins against powerhouse Florida State. They host a 3-game series against NC State this weekend - and since BC baseball games are free to attend for all, I plan on at least attending some of all 3 games.

That's all for now - congratulations to all of you admitted students for the Class of 2013! And for those who are prospective members of the Class of 2014: you make me feel old. But it's all good. I hope my blog will be of service to you over the next year, and will help you decide whether or not BC is right for you.

If you have any questions about anything I blog about, or BC life in general, DO NOT HESITATE to email me at gravellj@bc.edu. Or you can just leave a comment on my post. Thanks for reading!

Go Eagles.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

Hello Everyone!

So, acceptance letters have been sent and I am sure you many of you reading these posts are now potential Eaglets and soon to be full fledged Eagles. I know the time waiting for acceptance letters was stressful for me, so I am sure you are all happy to be getting decisions back, good or bad.

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I applied for an independent major in American Studies. This major combines the English Department, History Department, and Sociology Department into one massive interdisciplinary major. Essentially, I thought up, designed, and proposed my own major and it has been almost entirely approved by the Educational Policy Committee, pending my addition of more upper level courses. One cool thing I found out about is that Boston College is in a consortium of Boston institutions which allows me to take classes at BU for no additional cost if I feel it pertinent to my major...very cool.

Also, I have been hired as a Residential Assistant for next year meaning I will live in a sophomore residence hall on College Road. I am very excited for the challenge this position will offer and also pumped that I will not have to pay for housing next year as that is the compensation for taking the job.

Finally, I will serve as the Undergraduate Goverment's Executive Director of University Affairs next year. As the manager of the University Affairs Department, I will be responsible for Directors of Sustainability, Diversity, Academic Affairs, Student Formation, and others all with the goal of making Boston College a better place. We are currently interviewing the many talented applicants for positions and will be announcing our decisions this Saturday.

If you haven't guessed by now, I am very involved here because I am happiest when I am busy. While I would say I have taken on more than the average student, my involvements are an accurate reflection of just how passionate students at BC are for their campus and community as a whole. If you're the type of person who would enjoy this atmosphere, go ahead and send in your deposit to BC. You won't regret it for a second.

In closing, I just want to say that Boston College has proven to be an amazing experience for me thus far. Everyone chooses the college they attend for different reasons and I am no exception, but I would encourage all of you to take an honest look at every school you have been accepted too. Take tours, visit websites, go on day visits, and email students to get a sense of the school that touches you in a unique way. I am confident that any person could find a home at Boston College if you just take a little extra time to delve deeper.

Good luck with your decisions! I hope to see some of you around here in the fall.