I am in the last weeks of my TIME as a student at Suffolk University in Boston, and as I reach the end of my last semester, I thought it might be a good idea to share my experience with current and upcoming college students so they can have the best experience possible. College can be such a turbulent and confusing time, I know I needed all the help I could get, and I was better off for it.

Know the environment you like

While I will be graduating from a school in Boston, I actually spent my first semester at a school in Bristol, Rhode Island and the contrast in campus environments could not have been greater.

Where Suffolk is a school with buildings scattered throughout Boston and professors who are actively connected to members of any given student's aspiring field, the school in Bristol was a finite area on the water. While the view was certainly breath-taking, I found myself feeling extremely isolated and cut off because of how little time I spent off campus and how few areas I had access to outside of school. In Boston, I can go to class, and see a show on the same day, and even grab a meal at a nice restaurant beforehand.

So if you're like me and enjoy the freedom of exploring, trying different things at different places and enjoy visiting places that can help you unwind from school-related activities, I highly recommend picking a school in the city. On the other hand, if you like the feeling of living in a small community and might find the idea of being in such a massive area undesirable or overwhelming, I'd say find a school that gives off a more intimate vibe.

Much self-discovery can be made outside of class

Coming from a small sheltered town in central Massachusetts, I did not have a very broad idea of the world outside of my small corner of the world. That all changed when I started to meet with many of my fellow theater majors and got to hear of the backgrounds they had that were drastically different from my own, in terms of home life, heritage, and other forms of self-identification.

I Learned more about myself and the world I live in hearing their stories than I ever did speaking to the same people from the hometown I spent the last twenty years in. While this might sound rather obvious to some people, for me it was mind-blowing.

As a white, cisgender catholic male from a town comprised of largely the same type of people, it was very eye-opening to get to meet Hispanics, latinas, people of color, gays and other types of minorities who were very outspoken about their struggles, activism, and willingness to share their stories. While I will not be leaving school pursuing a career in theater, I am still glad I was able to meet these people and appreciate the stories they had to share that have allowed me to go outside of my little bubble.

Classes can give you more than just skills

While many students might complain about taking courses outside of their major, as they find them unnecessary to their chosen field of study and don’t know why they’ll need it, they can be a blessing in disguise.

Without trying to make a serious career move, I was able to see what interested, or did not interest me, about certain fields, such as science, business, politics, and many others. While I may not have had a great amount of interest in some of these fields in the first place, I could always end the semester saying I had a greater amount of appreciation for them and what they do for our world.

There are some things you just have to tough out

This is a lesson that, the sooner you learn it, the better. Similar to the earlier point, not everything is going to be a fit for you, and that is okay. Once I had entered my junior year, I already had an idea of what I wanted to do with my life after college, but I still had two years to go through, and I knew that Suffolk, and many other schools for that matter, would be of little help from an academic standpoint.

While my studies may have grown less relevant to my life as time went on, it was always helpful that I spent so much time in Boston and had so many great opportunities at my fingertips.

Just this past week I connected to a woman from Bay State Search through indeed.com, and not only was she a recent Suffolk alum, but both her meeting place and the positions she was able to offer me after graduation were very accessible.

Even if it seems all for nothing, it might not be

One good thing that did come out of continuing to my senior year was that thanks to the department, I was able to write and direct my own show based on one of my favorite video game franchises, "Tomb Raider". Not only was it a dream to pay tribute to one of my favorite heroines of all time, but I learned some valuable lessons in just a month of rehearsing.

I had to recast the role of Lara three times as my first two had dropped out. Worrying that I would find myself at showtime up the creek without a paddle, I rapidly began asking anyone I could think of, and luckily I found my Lara, who not only memorized all her lines in only a week, but went above and beyond by asking me questions about the character and discussing how to best bring her to life. It served as living proof to me that nothing worth having comes easy.

I do hope these pointers have given you a better idea of what to expect from the college experience and that you will find these stories helpful if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

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