The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 26th

Column: There's no right way to do college

UNC sophomore Marin Wolf is city editor during summer 2019.
Buy Photos UNC sophomore Marin Wolf is city editor during summer 2019.

I’d dreamed about college since I can remember. In middle school I made lists of schools I could see myself going to and spent hours on college websites scrolling through major choices. I remember my first college tour like it was yesterday.

The schools I applied to were wildly different. Big schools, small schools, private, public, liberal arts and even some research universities. But almost all of them had one thing in common - they were far from home. 

In the years I spent dreaming about college, I always pictured myself in a new town or city, somewhere entirely my own. I imagined getting off the plane for winter break and being welcomed back by my entire family with questions about my new life. My mom said going to school in a different city was one of the best decisions she ever made and I wanted that same difficult, yet magical, experience.

And then I decided to go to school 15 minutes from my house. 

It was hard not to feel like I was taking the easy way out. Every time I meet someone new and tell them I’m from Chapel Hill, I get one of two questions: what’s it like attending school so close to home and do I live at home during the year. I used to feel the need to defend my decision, even though choosing to go to an amazing school that has the perfect program for me should be a no-brainer.

In order to make up for going to school so close to home, I stayed away from the house. During first semester I only went home on scheduled breaks. I passed up on offers to go home for the occasional Sunday night dinner. 

I was putting so much pressure on myself to have a movie-like college experience that I wasn’t considering what was best for me. 

It took a while, but I eventually figured out that I can't be ashamed that my dream school is in my home town. Not many people are lucky enough to have a great university and their family all in one place. Not many people get to go home to see their dogs when they want.

I love that I can go out to lunch with my mom on a whim and I love that my friends turn to me for restaurant suggestions. I love that I can bring people to my house for dinner and I love that I can make multiple trips when I’m moving in. 

Don’t let your expectations of undergrad life alter the way you experience college. Your time here won’t be the same as anyone else’s; maybe you’ll graduate early, or maybe you’ll take a semester off. Maybe you’ll go home often, or maybe you’ll only be home for summer break. Maybe you’ll call your mom every day even though you live 15 minutes away. 

And that’s OK! There isn’t some rulebook that every student has to follow. Do what makes sense for you. No matter how we get there, at the end of the day we all end up in the same blue robe, proud of being graduates of UNC. 

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