Top Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Before Attending UNC
Congratulations! You did it. You’ve officially been admitted into one of the best institutions in this country. I’m going to share the best pieces of advice and guidance for the next 4 years of your life that I wish I’d learned before attending college – UNC-style.
Disclaimer: This article contains opinions based on my experiences.The tips reflect my own experiences at UNC and some of the views of my peers.
Tip #1: Buckle up and get ready for an awesome ride.
UNC IS, in my view, the best university in this world. My blood runs Carolina blue, but it didn’t just happen without an amazing 3 years at this university (I was a transfer from Appalachian State University).
Tip #2: Live on South Campus freshman year.
Freshman year is all about meeting people. Meet as many people as you can and keep in touch! You will (I guarantee you) run into them again at some point. Make friends and enjoy the beauty of late night and brunch at Ram’s Dining Hall. Ride the P2P.
Tip #3: Go to FallFest
Do it! And sign up for as many clubs and organizations and auditions as you’re interested in. You can always unsubscribe from e-mail lists later, but you’ll never know what you’ll find in the nooks and crannies of South St. on that awesome evening.
On that note, join a few groups freshman year and see what you like the best. Invest heavily in 1-2 groups and then decide later in the next year or so which you want to invest the most time in and grow in leadership over time.
Tip #4: If you’re a female and considering going through recruitment, do it.
Even if you decide not to join a sorority, rush is a great experience, and you’ll be able to shape firsthand your own views on Greek Life at UNC through recruitment. I was in a sorority and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, even if I had not joined, I met some of my best friends now during the experience!
Tip #5: Take Gen Ed (general education) courses over a scope of many subjects.
To figure out what you like (before rushing to choose a major).
I took Linguistics, International Studies, History, Women’s Studies, Spanish and Statistics my first year at UNC. On that note…if your major or potential future major requires Econ 101, try to do that course your freshman year but spring semester when you’ve had a semester to adjust to college.
If you’re into arts, music or drama classes, I fully recommend: Carolina Choir or Glee Club (for guys and girls), or Comm 160 (performance studies).
Tip #1: Live in Morrison or on North Campus.
For North Campus, I recommend Connor. It was an amazing community and a great balance of quiet and fun. Plus, Connorstock is awesome (the end-of-the-year community event).
Tip #2: Play intramural sports. And if you played club sports in high school, check them out here.
They’re not as time-consuming as you may think, and perfectly manageable with other extracurricular activities. I was in a sorority, an a cappella group, and played club sports throughout college. All at the same time. You can do it if you truly love the activities you’re participating in!
Tip #3: Start Networking NOW. On that note, it’s not too early to start visiting University Career Services.
Even if it seems too early, it’s not. Every opportunity you have to meet someone is networking. You’ll thank me later.
Tip #4: Join another organization.
Even if you’re heavily involved in one, try another. You never know what it’ll lead to and it’s early enough to get very involved and grow in leadership.
Tip #5: Congrats! You figured out your major (kind of?). Now roll with it!
Now’s the time to make a more educated decision about double majoring or minoring after you’ve explored more subjects and figured out what you like.
Tip #6: Do a Maymester class this summer if possible.
It will help you later.
Tip #1: Get your first internship junior year, apply to be an OL (Orientation Leader) or get involved in office of NSCPP (New Student and Carolina Parent Programs).
Tip #2: Start to utilize UCS in-depth.
Here, you can partake in mock interviews, a whole class devoted to job-hunting (and a credit hour), and other UCS events and networking nights.
Tip #3: Live in an apartment.
Great options close to campus: Townhouse, Mill Creek, Chapel Ridge (with a pool), Stratford.
Tip #4: Do not (and I repeat, DO NOT) use your senior status for a Duke ticket until your senior year!
If you get one junior year, great. If not, no big deal. It’s worse not having a ticket for your senior year in the off chance that happens.
Tip #5: Spend a summer in Chapel Hill. It’s awesome.
Tip #1: Live off-campus, preferably in a house.
It’ll teach you about bills, utilities, etc. and you’ll have the freedom to get off campus at the end of the day.
Tip #2: Start to save money – ASAP.
I’d recommend working retail and/or food service. It’ll teach you a ton about people and great experience for a resume. It’s definitely key to start saving now. Sooner or later, graduation will be just around the corner and you will be thankful you have a bit of funds saved up!
Tip #3: Graduating is tough. But be proud of yourself and enjoy any time you have post-grad to relax and refocus.
As a rising sophomore, I feel slightly better prepared for move-in day this fall. However, my freshman year was another story. I was a mess. I was not the relaxed, laid back type. Instead, I was the anal, over-bearing perfectionist when it came to readying my things for move in. Let’s just say every box was labeled. You get the picture? I had made all possible preparations, yet when the day came I was still sweating everything. Would I like my roommate? Did I bring too much stuff? Did I bring enough stuff? How would I get everything to the sixth floor?
As my family and I finally arrived to Carolina, I realized I would not just be mentally sweating, I would be literally sweating as well. No one told me (other than the weatherman) it would be ninety-one degrees outside. When I had imagined my move-in trip, I saw white hallways, colorful bins, and felt the cooling air conditioning as I whisked down the hall. That wasn’t exactly the reality. This isn’t an anecdote about the obvious value of Carolina. It’s the dirty back-story, with equal benefits. Although you probably have heard much more glamorous tales of new experiences at UNC, my undertaking began with one thing: sweat.
When I first met my roommate, we were both dripping in perspiration, but it wasn’t all bad. When the sweat came, all awkwardness flew out the window, as had my hope of maintaining manageable hair in the humid weather. I recall our first conversation was not about our names, our likes, or our plans for the rest of the day. The dialogue was instead:
Me: “Where can I set this down?”
Roommate: “Anywhere is good.”
Me: “The strap won’t come off my arm. It’s stuck to my sweat.”
That was our glorious first-exchange: laughter and a few mumbled words about sweat. I felt like a boy. Actually I felt like an idiot. I had been so worried about the day going as planned, about being in control that I had made a vital miscalculation. Somehow while outlining my move-in method, I had forgotten that my life wasn’t a JC Penny commercial or a Target catalog.
Despite my worries, my roommate and I were well suited for each other. Hypothetically if we had hated each other, it wasn’t worth sweating about anyway. While we physically dripped, we both knew everything would work out.
The value of Carolina comes in different forms. In the form of teachers, the university helps you understand the abstract. In the form of friends and roommates, it pushes you to tolerate. In the form of basketball, it cheers you to celebrate. And in the form of sweat, it surprises you. No matter who you are, or what you think, UNC is different than anything you could ever expect. At least that’s all I could think while climbing the stairs to my room with glistening face and sticky arms ready to begin four years at Carolina.
I had a lot of fun this summer being a social media intern at UNC’s admissions office and researching information about the University. From designing infographics, to hosting Twitter chats with my co-intern Chelsea, I’ve learned so much about UNC. I’ve also received the wonderful opportunity to interact with some amazing students, both current and prospective. Seeing how excited prospective students are about coming to UNC has made me realize just how lucky I am to call UNC my home. When I applied, I had no idea UNC had nationally ranked academic programs, that men’s basketball wasn’t the only sports team that won national championships, and that I would meet so many of my best friends here.
Summer is going by so quickly, and MOVE IN DAY is quickly approaching. For freshman, move-in day marks the transition into college life. You will meet so many new people and explore the many shortcuts and attractions at UNC’s beautiful campus. Feeling nervous is normal, but when you arrive on campus, you’ll see everyone else moving in, and the excitement will begin. The hustle and bustle of parents and new students carrying in loads of belongings into the dorms will give you your first look at your new UNC family. And the Residential Advisers (RA’s) that will greet you will calm your nerves and make your experience more comfortable.
As far as roommates are concerned, some of you will know your roommate, but some of you, like myself, will meet yours on move-in day. I met my freshman-year roommate on UNC’s Roommate Finder page. I will admit, living with someone I didn’t know before college was uncomfortable, but this feeling will go away with time. As a freshman, you will most likely live in a suite style dorm, which helps you meet your suite mates almost instantly (sharing a bathroom and a hallway will help you get to know each other fairly quickly). Take it from someone who became best friends with two of her former suite mates! It might be hard to speak up and introduce yourself, but remember, it never hurts to make new friends! Carolina has a rich pool of diverse students, so don’t be surprised when you meet students from all over NC, the nation and even abroad.
Tips for Move-In Day and the first week at UNC:
1. Introduce yourself to others! You never know who will end up being one of your best friends.
2. Don’t be nervous!! Saying goodbye to your family can make you feel a little uneasy at first, but try to step out of your comfort zone. You’ve worked very hard to be a student at Carolina, start to embrace your achievement.
3. Check out different events that interest you. Definitely attend FallFest, which will be on August 18th from 9pm-2am. It gives you an opportunity to meet others (the estimated crowd is 25,000 students!) and check out the multiple clubs and organizations offered! There are over 700 student ran organizations to be a part of at UNC, so be sure to gather some info about them as you enjoy the night on South Road!
4. Be sure to attend convocation. It’s an introduction to the University and you will learn the many Carolina cheers along with seeing many of the sports teams, including men’s basketball!
5. W.O.W. (Week of Welcome). This was amazing for my freshman year, and I have no doubt it will be just as great for you all. It’s an ENTIRE week of opportunities. From trips to Target (with freebies involved!), to movies outside your dorm community on a big screen, there will always be something available to fill those few moments of boredom!
6. Have fun! You’re officially a Tar Heel, living on a gorgeous campus with so many options for courses, sports, organizations and clubs. You’ll meet people that will become your lifelong friends. Time seems to go by faster each year, and it’s a lot to experience, so dive right in!
7. Congratulations fellow Tar Heels, welcome to the family!
My former suite mate Maggie and me
Hey Tar Heels! It’s Trey again. I’m a rising junior, studying public relations in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (J-School). Additionally, I am a member of the UNC J-School Ambassadors, a student-created initiative which began in Fall 2012. Its purpose is to help future, current and former students navigate and succeed through the UNC J-School.
The J-School is located in Carroll Hall, and it’s pretty awesome. The school bridges the gap between rigorous learning and real-world experiences. How does it do this? In addition to having our own library, graphic design labs and more, we also have our own Career Services! Through the JOMC Careers listserv, J-School students stay up-to-date on numerous internships and job opportunities. Not only does JOMC Career Services assist students with landing an internship or job, but like University Career Services, it also offers help with resumes, cover letters and portfolios.
Through JOMC Career Services, I landed a summer reporting opportunity with the Raleigh Public Record, a nonprofit publication that documents the news of Raleigh, NC. So far, I’ve made a lot of connections and gained professional experience. Currently, I am assisting with a special project that consist of interviewing and writing candidate profiles for the November 2013 local election.
I like my internship with the Raleigh Public Record because it has given me leadership opportunities and on-the-job training. I’m glad I was able to experience these two things because they have helped prepare me for the real world.
If you want to use JOMC Career Services like I did to explore opportunities that can connect you to real world opportunities, sign up for the JOMC Career Services listserv. To do so, email firstname.lastname@example.org, leave the subject blank and write “subscribe JOMCCareers” as the text. Also be sure to follow JOMC Career Services on twitter at @UNCJCareers.
Hello my fellow Tar Heels! My name is Kiyah McDermid. I am a rising junior, class of 2015, majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sociology minor. This summer, I participated in a summer mentoring program hosted at UNC, and my students kept asking me the same question: “What do you like most about college?” Most students assume it is the freedom or the academics or even the social aspects of college. But every time I’m asked this question, I never hesitate to answer in three words: Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Now, instead of driving head first into my own dear organization, I will talk more specifically about the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Founded on May 10, 1930, the NPHC is a collaborative organization of nine historically African American international Greek letter sororities and fraternities. These include:
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc – Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc – Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc – Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc – Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc – Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
All of these organizations were founded on common principles of brotherhood/sisterhood, scholarship, and service. Brotherhood and sisterhood are bonds of close and sincere friendship unique to the Greek community. One of my own personal reasons for seeking membership into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc was sisterhood. There is an opportunity to unite with and confide in other students with diverse backgrounds but with similar interests and goals and new perspectives!
Seeking out financial aid can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t know how you are going to pay for college. When I was applying to colleges, cost definitely was a factor in choosing a school. The great thing about Carolina is it meets 100% of your demonstrated need. Generally, about 40% of your financial aid packet from UNC is loans (money you have to back after you graduate), and about 60% is grants (money you don’t have to pay back) and self-help (a work-study job). Although there’s no separate application for university-sponsored scholarships, I still recommend you actively seek out other scholarships. Knowing you have this type of money (money that you don’t have to work for or pay back) going towards your education, greatly lessens the financial burden of higher education.
Want to know more about the cost of school, types of aid, and how to apply for financial aid? Check out this graphic I made that lays out all of this information. And if you want more information about financial aid, visit the financial aid website at http://studentaid.unc.edu/.
Ever since I watched my first documentary on the importance of education, it has been my dream to spread education equality to all children. Because of my dreams of working with children and education, I wanted to find a volunteer group that would infuse both of these interests.
My minority adviser told me about an organization she was in called Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment (H.Y.P.E.). H.Y.P.E is a volunteer organization through Campus Y that allows UNC students to educate elementary aged students in low-income communities. Tutors volunteer Monday through Thursday and provide after school fun on Fridays. I thought it sounded great, so I went to the first informational meeting during spring semester.
I ended up loving the information I received, especially when I saw the pictures from past events of children with wide grins on their face having a great time with Carolina students. Through H.Y.P.E., I have worked with a number of great personalities and I have even learned a little bit about myself. I’ve learned to work with children and I’ve learned about adversity and how education comes into play. The best feeling in the world is having a child look up to you and make you feel like you have made a difference in their life.
Being able to see a smile on a child’s face when you teach them a new word, successfully help them with homework, or even draw a picture with them really makes my heart warm. I am so lucky to be able to participate in such a program, and I encourage both newcomers and upperclassmen to join the H.Y.P.E
If you ask any Tar Heel why they decided to come to UNC, each will have a different answer. Some grew up in Carolina blue and couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Others were attracted by the opportunity to receive a world-class education at an affordable price.While some wanted to rush Franklin Street after a national championship win.
There were many reasons why I chose to go to Carolina. Some were based on location (I don’t think I could survive the Midwest winters). Others were based on price (I knew I’d likely pursue post-graduate education. So the less debt, the better). I also knew I wanted to go to a well-respected school that had tons of school spirit. And, at the time I also wanted to be a journalist, so graduating from a top journalism school was also a plus.
Everyone has their own reasons for choosing Carolina, but what I feel is more important to share with y’all are a few reasons why I’m glad I came to Carolina.
1. Variety of Strong Programs
Though I was originally attracted to Carolina’s strong journalism program, I’ve since changed majors a few times (like most college students). Thankfully journalism isn’t the only strength at Carolina. UNC students have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a major/program, and many of our schools and departments are known nationally for their excellence. Students can study Business Administration, Biomedical Engineering, Creative Writing, Exercise and Sport Science, Global Studies, and Psychology just to name a few. As someone who has changed their major from Journalism to Nutrition to Global Studies to Anthropology, I’m so glad that I chose to attend a large university with many options of study rather than a smaller school that had more limited options.
2. Sense of School Pride and Spirit
As the first public university in the nation, Carolina has a long history of excellence in academics, success on the sports field, and giving back to the community and state of North Carolina. Students and alumni are truly proud of their school. I love singing “Hark the Sound” at football games, reading about research UNC professors are doing that will one day change the world, and just telling strangers I go to Carolina.
3. Amazing People
I’m continuously amazed by my classmates. Everyone is smart, driven, and will likely be very successful at whatever they do one day. They’re also very friendly! I’m constantly inspired to work harder because of those around me. I’m also constantly amazed by the diversity of the Carolina student body. I’ve had classes with and become friends with veterans, international students, first generation college students, and permanently disabled students that have all given me a new and different perspective that I truly value.
As a rising sophomore, I have gained the confidence, and albeit cockiness, that comes with a perceived knowledge of how life at college, especially life at UNC, works. Now there is a very high chance that everything I think I know will eventually be proven wrong, but everyone comes into college with fears and lessons that inevitably need to be learned. I want to share the lessons I learned, and hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes!
THE BUS SYSTEM IS YOUR VERY BEST FRIEND!
There is no denying the fact that UNC is pretty big. And as a freshman, there’s a really good chance you will be on South Campus, very far away from most of your classes. So why not make your life easier and learn the bus system? I technically did not learn this lesson until the end of second semester, and I paid for it dearly. In the fall it was not that cold and it did not rain much, so I walked everywhere. It helped me keep off that Freshman 15, and I liked being surrounded by Carolina weather. But by the time winter and rain came in, I hated myself for not learning the bus system at the beginning of the year. By that time, I felt stupid asking which bus to take. My advice? Take the time at the beginning of the school year to ride different busses around campus to see where they take you. Or you will be that kid, like I was, who ends up in Carrboro at 11 p.m. in the sleet and snow. Also download the NextBus app, so you know exactly when the buses are coming!
THINK REALLY HARD ABOUT YOUR MEAL PLAN!
I made the mistake of thinking I would not eat very much at the dining hall, having heard horrible stories about college food, so I got a low meal plan for the first semester freshman year, a Block 120 plan. However, the food turned out not to be that bad, and there are tons of options. Also eating at the dining hall becomes a way to meet new friends, and I ate there more often than I thought I would. By the semester’s end, I was begging friends, and even strangers, to give me a swipe into the dining hall. So, at least at first, I recommend getting a larger meal plan, like the Block 160, rather than a smaller one. The ease of the dining hall will honestly ease your transition into college. If you find that this is too much, you can always go smaller next semester. And those extra swipes you have at the end of the semester? They can go towards meals for the homeless! For more info about meal plans, visit the CDS website.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS MEET NEW PEOPLE!
It might be easy to just stick to the first friend group you find because, hey, they are funny, nice, and love doing all the same things you like to do. But try not to fall into the typical freshman mistake of sticking to only one group. I did this my first semester and paid for it dearly when fights within that friend group dissembled it. I was left trying to make new friends after everybody had already found their groove. I should have listened to my older friends at UNC, who told me that usually your closest friends freshman year are not your closest friends senior year. That is not to say that you will not keep some, or maybe all, of the friends you first meet. I am still best friends will people I met at freshman orientation! But always keep the mindset you have when you first arrive on campus! Introduce yourself to everyone. Grab any opportunity to grab lunch or see a movie at Varsity Theater with people you met in class, waiting in line at Alpine Bagel, or in that new club you joined. There are so many interesting people to meet at Carolina, so get started!
Hopefully these tricks will let you start your freshman year on the right path! Inevitably, you will make your own mistakes freshman year, but one of the great things about the Carolina community is that you learn a lot from each other, including from each other’s mistakes. Everyone makes them, but who knows, you might be writing a blog in a few years about yours!