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Just a few months into their freshman year, three former NeXt correspondents offer a glimpse of life on campus so far, at Brandeis University, St. Bonaventure University and Monroe Community college.

Jillian Hammell

St. Bonaventure University, Olean

Major: Journalism/Mass Communications

High School: Hamburg High School

How many undergrads are at your school? About 2,000

Classes you are taking this semester: Politics, History, Professional Writing (JMC 110), Communication Today (JMC 101), Spanish (301) and University 101.

What are your class sizes like? My largest classes are both of my JMC classes, which include about 35 students. My Spanish class is very small (nine students) as well as my University 101 class (20 students). Politics and History are both around 25.

Why did you choose this school? I chose this school for the impressive Journalism/Mass Communication program. The successful alumni provided a great insight and gave me confidence that I can accomplish a great amount during and after my journey at St. Bonaventure.

What type of student would like or not like this school? A student that plans to attend St. Bonaventure must desire to get involved! The school offers more than enough clubs/ sports to fit a student’s general interest. There are clubs for every major and plenty of opportunities to volunteer and meet new people.

Pros: Scenic campus, plethora of clubs and organizations, smaller classes, easy to speak to a professor, Career and Professional Readiness Center and great people!

Cons: Rare chance of snow days, rather small campus, few restaurants and shopping centers near campus.

How is the food? The main dining hall, the Hickey, provides fresh food. There is always sugary cereal waiting for you, but there are also alternatives like salad in case your sweet tooth is a bit overwhelmed. You do not have to abide by the infamous freshman 15 if you just pick up some of the healthy food Bonaventure provides. The R.C. Café, Café La Verna, Francis Café, and the Rathskeller offer delectable meals.

How is the social life? Since Bonaventure is a rather small school, it is easy to develop close relationships with your peers. As a freshman, my closest friends are the students whom I share a dorm building with. However, you are able to meet kids through your classes. It is easy to see a familiar face strolling around campus!

How are campus activities? The Campus Activities Board at St. Bonaventure works to provide students with fun social events while on and off campus. There are opportunities for students to spend a day in Ellicottville, dance in the Skeller (Bonaventure’s on-campus social gathering hot spot), attend a comedy show and much more! Also, the First Year Experience allows incoming freshmen to transition into the school by becoming involved in exciting and informative events occurring on campus.

What has surprised you most about college life? How fast the time has gone by! I cannot believe that it is already Thanksgiving time. My schedule is jam-packed with clubs, classes, exercising and planning for the future. Although I have been working hard toward the best future I can provide myself, I enjoy every minute spending time with the amazing friends that I have made so far.

Anything else you would like to add? I am a staff writer on the Bona Venture newspaper, Bonaresponds volunteer and part of the Leadership program (prepares students to hold a leadership position and engage in volunteering and workshops).

Examples of other clubs: The Buzz (Bonaventure’s highly ranked radio), SBU Hip Hop team, Bonacoustics (chorus club), The Intrepid (online newspaper), Bona Buddies (mentoring), Students in Free Enterprise, plenty of opportunities for students to become leaders by being a Peer Coach, Orientation Team leader, Student Government and much more!

I love it here!

Naomi Soman

Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.

Major: I’m pretty sure I want to major in English, but I know I am going to add another major or minor.

High School: Williamsville North High School

How many undergrads are at your school? 3,504

Classes you are taking this semester: UWS (University Writing Seminar – a required course for all freshmen): Absurdity in Film and Fiction; English 1a: Introduction to Literature; American Presidency; Math 15a: Linear Algebra; and an Experiential Learning Practicum: Media, Politics and Society.

What are your class sizes like? UWS: 17, English: 60, American Presidency: 58, Linear Algebra: 45, Practicum: 20

Why did you choose this school? Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to come to Brandeis, but when I visited last May, I fell in love with it. The campus is gorgeous, the people are kind and welcoming, the Jewish life is very active, and the academics are great. As soon as I came here I just had this feeling that it was for me.

What type of student would like or not like this school? In general, the Brandeis student population is very diverse with people from all kinds of backgrounds and interests, but Brandeis is also kind of a nerdy school. Fraternities and sororities are not very popular, in fact they’re not even recognized by the school. There are parties, but nothing crazy, and we don’t have a varsity football team. However, we have a competitive Quidditch team, a nationally ranked debate team and several a cappella groups. It’s cool to stay up until 3 in the morning playing board games with your friends on a Friday night. Brandeisians are very smart and into everything from politics to the environment to theater to sports. If you’re looking for a big party school with football games and tons of people, Brandeis is not the school for you, but if you’re a deep thinker, passionate about learning, and are looking for people just like you, then come to Brandeis; you’ll fit right in.

Pros: There are so many of them! First of all, the campus is absolutely gorgeous. It’s in Waltham, Mass., and there are trees, flowers and ponds all over campus. Plus, it has a castle, a legitimate stone castle – with sophomore dorms inside – that looks like it came out of a fairy tale. Second, Brandeis is a fairly small school so everyone knows each other. We have many Pulitzer Prize-winning and accomplished professors who like to know their students by name. They hold office hours weekly and love to help out students. Third, since Brandeis students are very smart and Brandeis is a liberal arts school, no one majors in just one thing. Most students have one or two majors and a couple minors as well. Students can major in two completely unrelated subjects (and often do) as well as make up their own major entirely. The office of Academic Services is very good at helping accommodate student interests.

Cons: Brandeis is built on a hill, so I constantly have to walk up and down hills to get around campus. Even though the campus is relatively small, walking up the big hill or walking up 55 steps can be very tiring.

How is the food? Personally, I think the food is pretty good. There are two dining halls, Sherman and Usdan. Sherman is all you can eat, and it’s split between a kosher cafeteria and nonkosher cafeteria. The great thing is that you can sit anywhere and with whomever you want regardless of whether you eat kosher or not. I’ve never eaten at Usdan, but I know a lot of people who love it. Usdan is a good place to get takeout too. We also have Einstein’s Bagels and the C-Store, which is a small store to get snacks and premade meals. I definitely miss homemade meals, but there’s good variety and quality.

How is the social life? The social life here really allows everyone to find his/her own niche. We have more clubs than anyone could ever join that range from skydiving club to karate club to ballroom dancing club to intramurals to environmental club and many, many more. My roommate even created an education reform club. Also, since Brandeis is right outside of Boston, many people take the shuttle into the city and hang out there for a few hours. No matter who you are, there is definitely a group where you fit. Also, everyone here is extremely friendly. I noticed the first week I was here that it was so easy to go up to people and make friends. Even upperclassmen are very sociable and welcoming.

How are campus activities? Great! There have been a ton of cool things on campus. During the first week, there was ’Deis Glow, which was a party on the main lawn. Some upperclassmen stood at the corners of the field and sprayed paint all over everyone. Another campuswide activity was the 24-hour musical. In just 24 hours, we casted, learned songs and dances, created costumes and sets and performed “The Little Mermaid” for the whole campus. There are plenty of fun activities going on all the time.

What has surprised you most about college life? Classes here are very different from high school. First of all, we run on a block schedule, so I only have a class two to three times a week for an hour to an hour and a half. The teachers here don’t baby the students. If someone decides not to show up or turn in homework, the teachers don’t really care. Also, classes are much different. Most classes have a midterm and a final (one or both of which may be papers) and maybe some quizzes or other project. That’s it, so if you screw up on one, you’re out of luck. There are no fluff assignments to pick up your grade. Most of my homework is reading; I don’t have a lot of written assignments. To quote Spider-Man, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” There’s so much freedom here, but it’s easy to fall behind. You have to be on top of where you have to be and what you have to get done.

Anything else you would like to add? College is a thousand times better than high school. Period.

Marissa Estep

Monroe Community College, Rochester

Major: Communications

High School: Barker High School

How many undergrads at your school? 17,000-plus.

Classes you are taking this semester: Speech Communications, Psychology, Media Writing, Mass Media and Survey of Mathematics.

What are your class sizes like? Up to 20 students.

Why did you choose this school? I thought it would be a good place to start and it was in our budget range.

What type of student would like this school? Someone who is looking for a good place to start out, if they are not sure what they want to major in yet, and for someone looking for cheap expense.

Pros: The classes are small, the professors are very nice and I learn a lot everyday.

Cons: There are so many kids that come in and out all the time, and there are some people with no respect, but you will find that anywhere.

How is the food? It is very good! We have a Denny’s Express, a Subway, a pizza place and a market with sandwiches and salads and even sushi.

How is the social life? It is good. Everyone at my school is very sociable.

How are campus activities? They are very fun! We had a carnival, we have different presentations, and actor Robert Forster visited.

What has surprised you most about college life? I think it is a lot like high school, classwise. Other than that, it surprises me how many kids are so carefree without any parents around.

Anything else you would like to add? The dorms are very nice here, but it is really something to get used to. There is always roommate drama as well.