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The Daily Tar Heel

College Time: The Best Years Of Our Lives?

Aside from all of that though, Homecoming is just one fall weekend where UNC alumni come back to campus with their kids and spouses and remember what it was like to go to school here.

For me, that's the really strange part. We're into that busy time in the semester where papers and projects seem to pile up.

We have about one week before Thanksgiving, and then when we come back, we're not too far from exams. For seniors, decisions about jobs, applications to graduate school and general worries about the future also seem overwhelming the closer we get to the end of the semester.

And of course, for everyone, there are always the personal dramas about love or lack of love, friendships and time commitments that seem more stressful as schoolwork increases.

Even little things like people rinsing out their tuna cans in dorm showers or refusing to stop their cars for pedestrians can get irritating when you're already worried about something else.

In the midst of all of these anxieties large and small, hundreds of people visit our campus nostalgic about the time in their lives when they were in our shoes.

They walk by landmarks, go to the football game and above all else seem genuinely excited to be back at Carolina.

I have no idea what they remember or what their lives were like in college, but they must be remembering something pretty good.

Looking at these happy alums, I have a nagging sense that they found confidence and understanding that I don't yet have.

Was college supposed to turn me into a knowledgeable adult or offer another-worldly experience?

If so, I don't feel like I've done all I'm supposed to do here.

I'm happy and I love college, but maybe I let time pass by without taking advantage of all of it.

UNC offers a lot from world-renowned professors to campus organizations, and I don't always appreciate the fact that I'm lucky enough to be here.

In a lot of ways, students here lead charmed sorts of lives.

Most of us have fairly flexible schedules; we go to school at a beautiful campus with a fairly diverse group of students; we can go to concerts and sports events for free; and we can draw, paint, and act for elective classes regardless of our majors.

We also have all of these opportunities and people in one centrally located, easily accessible place.

For most of us, college life isn't particularly strenuous in the grand scheme of things. A lot of us don't have jobs or kids. We go to class, do homework, hang out with friends, join some clubs if we want, and that's it.

Before we got here, some of us were told that college would be the best four years of our lives.

And, maybe it's true. We certainly have a lot of freedom and hundreds of opportunities for close friendships and personal understanding. When we get out into the "real world" we might not have as much time to meet new people or discuss ideas or sleep until noon on a weekday.

For the sake of our futures though, I have to think college is just one segment of our lives -- hopefully a great segment -- but still just four years in a long string of time.

If we don't find everything we intended to find, learn everything we meant to, or grow and change as much as we had hoped, our lives are not doomed.

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We will have more opportunities to realize dreams, experience new things and make better choices.

We probably won't all get perfect jobs and have beautiful families and never fight with anyone, but we also probably won't lie around constantly rehashing college and the choices we made there. I think most of us will end up pretty happy in different ways -- a lot like we are now.

All of the alumni who come back for Homecoming seem to remember their time here very fondly. However, that certainly doesn't mean that they've found nothing to enjoy beyond college. And if they'd never left Chapel Hill, they couldn't return this weekend to remember it.

Marian Crotty can be reached at

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