My first year at UNC-Chapel Hill has flown by. I've already had so many highs and lows but I'm thankful to all the people who have made Carolina feel like home. Over the past year, I've rushed Franklin Street twice, did my first stand-up comedy routine, memorized all the lyrics to Promiscuous Girl, participated in my first case competition, and finally started prioritizing writing.
While looking back on my year, I realized that my college experience is a lot different than I would have anticipated. I'm discovering so many new parts of myself and have grown so much as a person. Now that the year is ending and high school seniors are starting to commit to college, I thought I'd write a list of things I wish I knew before starting college.
1. No matter how big your campus is, you can’t hide.Giphy
I thought that going to a school with 18,000 other students would mean that I would never see familiar faces. I couldn't have been more wrong. On my first week of school, I was already running into people from my high school, people I used to play tennis with, random people I met at robotics competitions, and even people from my elementary school. This can be both a blessing and a curse, but you'll come to realize how interconnected people on campus are.
2. Upperclassmen aren’t as scary as they were in high school.
Quick shout-out to Kevin for being one of the many upper classmen who make Carolina feel like home. Also congrats to these two for being next year's Senior Class President and Vice President!
I remember being so terrified of upperclassmen when I was a freshman in high school. I was so surprised to see how welcoming upperclassmen were and that a few of my closest friends ended up being upperclassmen. Most upperclassmen are super willing to get to know you and will answer all the questions you have about getting involved in campus, the best places to eat on Franklin Street, and will help you navigate your career interests. Don't be afraid to reach out to them because they aren't as intimidating as you think.
3. Nothing is going to be handed to you.Giphy
In high school, I found that it was always so easy to get involved in clubs and activities. In college, you have to be extremely proactive about what you want to do. You need to take the initiative to go to club meetings, email random people to get on ListServes, and find things that interest you. College campuses are so huge and there are hundreds of things that you can explore- you just have to figure out what you want to do.
4. While it’s okay to branch outside of your high school friends, remember that they’ll always be there for you.
Sometimes it's your high school friends who know you the best. They know how to make you laugh, how to comfort you when you're struggling, and what makes you happy. Some might be on campus with you, and some might be hundreds of miles away. Don't lose contact with your high school friends and don't be afraid to call them out of the blue.
5. Don’t limit your opportunities based on your major.Giphy
Don't be afraid to take classes that will make you go out of your comfort zone. Whether that's a theater, ultimate frisbee, photography, history, or an excel class, do things that will help you develop new skill sets. Take classes outside of your major requirements and try new things. You're only an undergraduate student once, and you should try to take advantage of as many class opportunities that you can.
6. Don’t be afraid to go to things alone.Giphy
Sometimes you'll be really interested in a certain talk or activity and you won't be able to find someone to go with you. If you're really passionate about something, don't let not being able to find someone stop you from going. It'll be a great way to meet new people and find people with similar interests.
7. You can explore the world on every campus.
Studying abroad isn't the only opportunity to engage with other cultures. There are so many different groups that put on events that are open to all students. You can go to various cultural performances, talks, and dinners. In addition to learning about a different culture, oftentimes they also have ethnic food that you try. Getting to know a new culture AND receiving free food? Who could pass up on that?
8. Your freshman roommate will be your ride or die.
This is someone who will be crucial to helping you navigate your first few weeks in college. They'll be the first one to laugh at you when you sleep through a class, the one you call when you're stranded somewhere, and someone who is always down for late night food runs. No matter how different they are from you, try to build a relationship with them.
Every college experience is unique and it's up to you to make the most out of your undergraduate experience. Don't be afraid to try new things and go out of your comfort zone. It'll help you widen your perspective on the world around you, discover parts of yourself that you never knew you had, and lead to some unforgettable memories.