The start of the fall semester marks the begin­ning of col­le­giate life for many North­eastern stu­dents. Last week, we asked upper­classmen to dole out advice for new stu­dents on the North­eastern expe­ri­ence. This week, we’ve asked sev­eral fac­ulty mem­bers to offer their insight. Here’s what they said:

Michael Pol­lastri, asso­ciate pro­fessor of chem­istry and chem­ical biology in the Col­lege of Science:

Pres­i­dent Aoun encour­aged you to take full advan­tage of the mil­lions of oppor­tu­ni­ties at North­eastern. Note, though, that many of these oppor­tu­ni­ties may not be imme­di­ately obvious to you, and often the best way to learn about them is to make per­sonal con­nec­tions with your pro­fes­sors. Besides opening your eyes to new oppor­tu­ni­ties to deepen your expe­ri­ence here, these per­sonal con­nec­tions will be impor­tant for you because these fac­ulty mem­bers can help you in the future as informal (or formal) advi­sors, career men­tors and, when you go on the co-​​op or job market, letter writers and ref­er­ences. Impor­tantly, make these con­nec­tions before you need them, and cul­ti­vate them over your time at Northeastern.”

Sheila Puffer, Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor and Cherry Family Senior Fellow of Inter­na­tional Busi­ness in the Col­lege of Busi­ness Administration:

Break away from people like your­self and expand your world view by meeting people who have come to North­eastern from all over the globe. Learn to eat with chop­sticks from a Viet­namese, learn about soccer from a Brazilian, ask a Russian about ballet. Or learn to eat with chop­sticks from a Russian, learn about soccer from a Viet­namese, or ask a Brazilian about ballet.”

Alan Mis­love, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Science:

Don’t hes­i­tate to ask your pro­fes­sors and TAs for help, both in class and in office hours. I’ve found that the most suc­cessful stu­dents in my classes are not nec­es­sarily the smartest ones, but instead are the ones who I get to know because they ask ques­tions. Doing so is also a great way to just chat with your pro­fes­sors, and it often leads to research oppor­tu­ni­ties and mean­ingful let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion. So drop by!”

Magy Seif El-​​Nasr, asso­ciate pro­fessor of game design and inter­ac­tive media in the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design and the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Science:

First, follow your pas­sion. Figure out what you really love doing and major in it. Because if you do, you will find that work is some­thing you love doing. As Gandhi said when he was asked if it was about time for him to take a vaca­tion: ‘Why? […] I am always on vacation.’

Second, remember that learning hap­pens more often out­side of the class­room than inside. Take the time to visit the labs and meet with pro­fes­sors. Vol­un­teer to work with them and their stu­dents. Work on a project out­side of the class­room that will help you advance your career.”

Jerry Hajjar, pro­fessor and chair of the Depart­ment of Civil and Envi­ron­mental Engi­neering in the Col­lege of Engineering:

Wel­come to all incoming freshmen! Our uni­ver­sity offers a won­der­fully wide range of topics to study, including exciting and impor­tant emerging dis­ci­plines. I encourage all freshmen to seek syn­er­gies between courses both inside and out­side their chosen field of study and embrace the oppor­tu­ni­ties of a lib­eral arts cur­riculum, grounded in coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion. Your elec­tives taken out­side of your major are the courses that may best dis­tin­guish you in your field. Be bold and inquis­i­tive, and enjoy the journey.”

Denise Horn, assis­tant pro­fessor of inter­na­tional rela­tions in the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Humanities:

My advice: explore, explore, explore. Try some­thing new as often as you can; take advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ties afforded you by meeting new people and open your­self up to new ideas every day. Seek to chal­lenge your world­view in a mean­ingful way. Oh, and get some sleep.”

Mary O’Connell, pro­fessor of law in the School of Law

My advice would be don’t forget to enjoy what you are learning. Law lets us delve into ques­tions that are both ridicu­lous and pro­found. Where else would you con­sider the “jus­ti­fi­ca­tions” for depriving the Native Amer­i­cans of their land – or ask whether you own your spleen? (The answer, by the way, is no.) Learning at this level involves a lot of work, but there is enor­mous fun and joy in the process if you just let it happen.”