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Friday August 12th

First-year jitters? UNC students offer advice on making the transition to college

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As the first day of classes lies ahead, The Daily Tar Heel asked current UNC students what advice they had for incoming first-years who may be nervous about starting college.

Pearl Teiko, a rising senior and public policy major, said that first-years shouldn’t be worried about knowing their major or career path from their first day.

“Advice that I would give to a rising freshman is to kind of not expect to have everything figured out once you're entering college,” Teiko said.

Teiko said the biggest difference she noticed between high school and college was a greater sense of responsibility and motivation.

“In college, no one’s always going to be over you forcing you to do certain things. You just have to have the drive and tenacity to want to do it on your own," Teiko said. "So that's why it's also important to choose something that you're passionate about."

Teiko suggested that first-years get to know as many people as they can during their first two years of school. By junior and senior year, she said, friend groups become increasingly static, especially due to the increased focus on careers and education.

Caroline Bowersox, a rising senior and journalism major, said that the abundance of students at UNC allows for lots of options for friends.

“I found new friends and they're the most incredible people ever, and I am just so blessed that they're in my life," Bowersox said. "So don't settle for things. If people are treating you badly and your feelings are hurt, then you don't have to deal with them."

Bowersox recommended first-years get a pair of walking shoes, T-shirts, running shorts and leggings for practical use on campus.

“I mean, you will dress up a lot less than you did in high school, and maybe that's not true for everybody, but it was definitely true for me and then most of my friends,” Bowersox said. 

Ola Alshaikhli, a rising senior who transferred to UNC, recommended that rising first-years focus on themselves rather than comparing themselves to others.

“I felt behind because everyone was in college and doing great things when I was at community college," Alshaikhli said. "So I was comparing myself to people. And I ended up transferring to UNC just like everyone else, and I'm getting that degree just like everyone else."

Awale Asianah, a rising senior and business major, said that making plans with friends in college can be difficult due to everyone’s different schedules.

“That's one thing that I think was difficult for me to realize at first," Asianah said. "People can suggest for you to go and do certain things with them, but you have to get your priorities right because we all have different schedules.”

Asianah recommended calendar blocking. She said she used Google Calendar to manage her time for both her social life and academics.

She also recommended that first-years reach out to professors and teaching assistants during their first week of class, especially if the class is major-related, because it could be beneficial for future letters of recommendation.

Asianah said that first-years shouldn’t be worried if they haven’t made a lot of friends during their first few weeks of school.

“There will be more amazing people that you'll meet over time,” she said.

Asianah added that first-year students should be the change they want to see.

“​​So be confident in this campus. Be bold. Interactive people, like I said, build relationships," Asianah said. "It's so key, and that's something that never ends even post-college — just building relationships in general.”

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