The ultimate guide for incoming freshmen at UNC

And everything grads will miss

In all of your eighteen years, the day you move into college is one of the happiest – albeit scariest – moments you’ll experience. When you drive into campus on move-in day, you’ll get a rush like no other. For the first time, you’ll realize your life is about to change. You’re about to meet your future roomie (who is likely already upstairs scoping out the best mattress, hurry!) and settle into your 13×15 home-away-from-home. As you pull into your dorm parking lot, you’ll begin making a mental list of all the things you have to do together before classes start on Monday – and you won’t have even seen your room yet.

Once you hang your monogram over your Twin XL, you’ll be more than eager to send your parents packing. You have important college things to do, you know? Like scoping out the cute guy moving in next door. You’ll hug your mother goodbye through the tears. You’ll wave as the family van drives away from this brick tower you now call home. You’ll think to yourself, “I’ve got this.”

My freshman dorm room at Granville

But here’s a pro tip: you definitely don’t “have this”. Freshman year is made for mistakes. It’s for bad grades and cleaning up your roommate’s puke. It’s for awkward encounters with hall mates and bad dining hall food. It’s for questionable outfit choices and breaking up with high school boyfriends. It’s for new beginning and figuring out this whole ~independence~ thing.

But, no one should have to learn things the hard way, especially when there’s an alternative – listening to unsolicited advice from a recent grad who wishes she could do it all over again.

So, listen up, freshman.

Ditch the lanyard

You’re looking at this piece of advice in bewilderment. “But, I like it”, you shout. “I can put my room key and my One Card on this”. You’re absolutely right. You’ll never lose your essentials, but you look like a freshman. Also, upperclassmen might point and laugh. Just ditch it. RT to save a life.  

Don’t fangirl over the basketball players

Obviously, we all go to UNC. We all live and breathe Carolina basketball. And, when you see a player in person for the first time (cough.. or anytime I see Marcus Paige..cough) it can be overwhelming. Because you’re a freshman, you get one free pass to obsess over them. Just keep in mind the basketball players are students too. While they do have a celebrity-like aura about them, and you definitely just spotted Kennedy Meeks in the Pit, let’s confine your freak-out to the group text, OK? Same goes for the Clef Hangers.

Go to FallFest and sign up for everything

You probably won’t join all thirty-seven clubs that you (or your hallmates) sign you up for, but you never know what club’s follow-up email might appeal to you. Getting involved in an extracurricular is so important to your Carolina experience. Whether it be a sorority or fraternity, an intramural team, or a campus ministry, join something your first year. This is where you’ll meet those lifelong friends everyone always tells you that college produces.

Go Greek, or at least try it out

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My sorority gave me friends for life and a reason to take cute pics

Don’t shrug off Greek Life by saying “it’s not my thing”. You never know if something is “your thing” until you give it a shot. While joining a sorority is not for everyone, that’s something you can and will discover during the recruitment process. You meet some of the most amazing people during rush; and, if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ve made some new friends – likely girls in your own dorm – along the way. You may find that you want to call one of those chapters ‘home’ – trust me, it’s worth it.

You’re not getting a Duke ticket

You’re just not, sorry. 

Drink from the Old Well on FDOC

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Me on my last FDOC

Will it get you that coveted 4.0? Maybe. But even if it doesn’t, it’s a long standing Carolina tradition. If you don’t care about tradition, at least do it for the ‘gram. Plus, your mom will appreciate you snapping her a ‘First Day of College’ picture.

Davis is the best library

Upperclassmen will try to scare you off with tales from the 8th floor, but fear not because Davis is the best. It’s quiet. It has chairs on chairs on chairs. And, you’re guaranteed to run into at least five people you know on the second floor. Trust me, it’s not as intimidating as it looks from the outside. The UL is for that inevitable 2 a.m. walk of shame during midterm season anyway.  

Study study study

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Coffee helps, trust me

UNC lives up to its reputation of being a top-notch university. While some will mock us (cough… NC State… cough), I can promise you won’t find a paper class here. If you’re looking for an effortless 4.0, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you never had to study in high school, you’re in for a rude awakening. UNC is very much a work hard, play hard campus; but we definitely put the work ahead of the party. Develop good study habits early; it’ll ensure you get to sophomore year. I also found that coffee helps – s/o to the Rams Head Starbucks. 

Don’t be scared to go to a frat party

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Freshman year dorm pics are the best

Frat parties are a rite of passage. If you didn’t fall down a set of sticky, sludge covered basement stairs, were you ever a freshman? Your first frat party will be intimidating – which is why you’re rolling up with 20 of your closest hallmates, guys included – but don’t sweat it. They’ll definitely know you are freshman. A brother will definitely ask your guy friends: “Who do you know here?” Have a good time anyway. And, definitely take lots of pics in your dorm before you head out. I heard all of the cool kids we’re doing it. 

Stay away from the trashcan punch, probably

It’s appealing because it’s fruity and in a red cup and everyone else is drinking it. It doesn’t taste like alcohol, but 10/10 can confirm it’s loaded down with the frat’s strongest handles – probably Everclear. I’m not saying don’t have fun – that’s what freshman year is for – just be aware of the effects and know your tolerance. It’s gotten the best of us.

Halloween on Franklin Street is a big deal

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Heel-o-ween 2k15

Don’t be alarmed if you hear talk of Halloween before September. Carolina students love Halloween, so make sure you’ve got a creative costume idea handy. Or, be basic and go as a something unoriginal like a devil – at least you’ll look cute.

Don’t take anything for granted

Chapel Hill is a special place. It’s a place of long-held tradition. It’s a place of academic excellence and basketball legends. The Old Well on an afternoon in April is literal heaven.

You’re so young and you have so much time. To you, our campus is vast. It’s a world waiting to be explore and understood. It’s a canvas for mistakes you have yet to make and triumphs you have yet to accomplish. You don’t quite understand the magnitude of the love affair us alumni have for this blessed place.  

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We’re laughing because we can’t believe we graduated

But, you will. It’s amazing how much smaller Carolina will feel when it’s so much closer to your heart. When it’s senior year and you have a favorite bar. When it’s 2 a.m. on a Saturday night and you know Cosmic will treat you to just the right amount of queso. When you stroll through Lenoir and see too many familiar faces. When you know the shortest route from the Dean Dome to He’s Not by heart. When your heart bursts after a Carolina win.

When you know those moments, you’ll understand this last piece of advice.

Until then good luck, baby Tar Heels. May you not gain the Freshman 15 (no matter the obscene number of Lenoir cookies you eat at every meal). 

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