The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday December 6th

Students Find They Can Go Home Again

Battling long lines in Lenoir Dining Hall, fighting for an open washing machine in residence hall basements and paying for expensive telephone calls home aren't concerns for UNC students who hail from Chapel Hill.

Homemade meals, free laundry facilities and in-person conversations with family members are all options for local students.

Three hundred and ninety-seven undergraduates from area high schools are attending a university a hop, skip and a jump away from home.

And students say there are advantages and disadvantages to remaining in town for college.

"I have more benefits than other (students)," said sophomore Elizabeth Gottschalk, a Chapel Hill High School graduate. "I go home to do laundry, and my mom cooks for me sometimes. I don't have to spend money on food, so I spend it on other things, and I'm able to do more."

On top of these perks, the close proximity of family and friends provides a strong support system for local students.

East Chapel Hill High School graduate and junior Adam Pomerantz has a family relationship that extends to campus, where he often drops in for a visit with his father, Marty Pomerantz, UNC director of campus recreation.

"It's great because if I need something from home, or if I get mail, I can just swing by my dad's office. My dad's here to help out, and that's nice," Adam said.

Having a home nearby provides local students with an escape from the demands and rigors of college life.

"There are times when things aren't going so well. It's nice to be able to go home, have dinner with my family and get that break," Adam said.

But having grown up in the area, students from local high schools face the drawbacks of attending college near home and fear the closeness will keep them from spreading their wings.

"I had to ask myself, `Do I want to be so close to home, am I going to want to go home all the time, will I see high school friends all the time?' I had to play all these things out in my head." said freshman Meredith Costa, an ECHHS graduate.

This year, 21 students enrolled at UNC from ECHHS and 49 from CHHS.

ECHHS Guidance Counselor Katy Bradshaw said a much larger number apply each year.

Local students said the combination of UNC's diverse campus, strong academic reputation and affordable tuition make the University an attractive option.

But Bradshaw said students considering UNC suffer from "Big Brother syndrome" - a fear of the intrusion of their parents and neighbors into their personal lives.

"It's hard attending UNC because I run into people I've known since I was young. It's a little aggravating," Gottschalk said. "It feels like neighborhood watch. You feel like everyone is keeping an eye out for you."

Local students said that because they lived in the area prior to coming to UNC, they rarely stumble upon unfamiliar territory in Chapel Hill.

Costa said she missed out on the novelty of the freshman year experience because she came to UNC knowing the ins and outs of the area.

"I felt it was a drawback being in a town I was already familiar with," she said. "Sometimes I wish the entire university was in a whole new place."

Gottschalk said she had been tasting campus life prior to enrolling as a student at UNC. "I had gone to college parties before, and I'd seen them since I was in middle school," Gottschalk said. "In high school I spent a lot of time here. I studied at the libraries on campus and did AP research in Davis. So I feel like I've been in college a lot longer than most sophomores."

Despite CHHS and ECHHS graduates' reluctance about staying in a home-town comfort zone, students from the area say the excitement and unique character of UNC life downplay the drawbacks they initially experienced.

Some said they make a conscious effort to branch out by getting involved in new activities and surrounding themselves with friends outside their high school social circle.

"Initially I was placed with a girl from my high school in the pot luck (room assignments), and we decided not to room together." Gottschalk said. "Meeting people here has really improved my perception of UNC."

Once integrated into University life, local students find themselves abandoning past stigmas surrounding their high school perspective of the area and become enveloped in a new world, separate from the "high school Chapel Hill."

"Yes, UNC is a big part of Chapel Hill. But at no point do I feel I am stuck in the place that I grew up," said sophomore transfer Jonathan Karpinos, who originally went to school outside of North Carolina but decided to return to his high school stomping grounds.

He said, "In my mind, high school Chapel Hill and UNC-Chapel Hill are separate."

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