The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: A disappointing first year at UNC

First-year student Lorena Negron does virtual work outside of Eringhaus Residence Hall on March 8, 2021. "While I am grateful to have the opportunity to be on campus, I know that it isn't everything it's supposed to be," said Negron.

For some members of the editorial board, this is our first year at UNC — whether as a transfer student or a recent high school graduate — and to say the least, this year has been nothing like it's supposed to be. Here, we reflect on what our experience has been like as we pass the one-year mark of the pandemic's stronghold on the entire world. 

Because, after all, this isn’t what we signed up for. We all worked hard and put in the effort to get here, and we were let down. 

The first-year experience

For many of us, attending UNC was our childhood dream. We grew up hearing of the prestigious academics, athletics and social experience. Just like the recent graduates, we, too, had our senior year snatched from us. Senior events such as prom and graduation were either canceled or held in virtual settings.

We then endured our virtual summer orientation, virtual new student convocation and our first week of class — which for the most part was also held, of course, virtually. We experienced the majority of our first semester at home, with the college experience feeling like a short two-week summer camp.

From praying to win tickets in the student basketball lottery, living in single rooms across campus and the majority of classes still held virtually, things stayed mostly the same this semester. 

Though, some of us first-years still remain at home and have yet to experience life on campus. This surely hasn't been the same experience we heard would be “the time of our lives."

Yet, there is hope for the future. 

We're hopeful this was only our first year, and we have three more to look forward to. Hopeful because COVID-19 cases across the nation are declining, including a positivity rate of less than one percent here on campus. Hopeful to see the steady progress of the vaccine. Hopeful for in-person classes, sporting events and social gatherings on the quad.

This continued optimism has certainly got us through this year and will equip us for the rest of our college lives.

Transferring during a pandemic

Being a transfer student is a unique experience in a normal year, and an especially unique experience amid COVID-19. As a diverse group of individuals, we come from different academic backgrounds and experiences. 

Some of us had never attended a four-year university before Carolina, opting for community college instead, whereas others came straight from other four-year universities or other programs, each with their own unique cultures. 

Despite the diversity of our experiences before Carolina, one thing is certain — the college experience we had before this year was much closer to “normal."

It’s impossible to feel connected to a campus that you haven’t been able to step foot on, and it’s difficult to be proud of a school when the closest you’ve gotten to experience it is through its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic (which has been less than impressive, to say the least).

Some of us may have enjoyed our previous academic or social environments, and thus acutely aware of the college experience we’re missing this year. Others may feel as though we will never have the opportunity in the first place to have the “normal college experience” that we anticipated having once we got here. 

It’s valid to mourn the loss of your college experience at UNC, and it’s valid to feel frustrated by the lack of connection to campus and your peers. It’s also valid to expect more from the University. 

It may be easy to feel like your decision to transfer to UNC was a mistake, or even that it was a mistake for UNC to accept you. Feelings of inadequacy and regret are inevitable during times when things don’t go according to plan. 

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that your decision to transfer was a courageous one. 

You knew transferring would be difficult, but your resolve to do so demonstrates bravery and hard work. These are the qualities that will help you get through this challenging time, and these are the qualities that make you such a deserving member of our student body. 


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.