Hannah Wade / The Daily Gamecock

First-year survival guide from fellow Gamecocks

In an ideal world, the first year of college sounds great. No parents, no rules, no problems, right? You've graduated high school, waited all summer and finally arrived on campus, eager to make new friends and experience your new world.

But don't make any moves just yet — first take a look at what advice upperclassmen with campus experience have for first-year college students.

Pillars for Carolina‘s five-day summer program is designed for first-year students. USC's website says the initiative allows participants to "learn about campus, the ins and outs of Columbia, and themselves," as well as learning "about yourself, your values, and finding your place at Carolina."

Rachel Jordan, a fourth-year athletic training student, is the co-director of Pillars for Carolina. Jordan said her biggest piece of advice for freshmen is to realize that no matter where a new student is from, "everyone is in the same boat as you in terms of coming to a new school [and a] new campus." Not being afraid to approach a stranger and say hello will bring a "whole world of relief" and could lead to a friendship that may not have occurred otherwise, Jordan said. 

Jordan said she feels the program especially resonates for students not from the Palmetto State. As a native of the Atlanta area, she can personally relate to their struggles. 

When living on campus freshman year, Jordan said to not worry about bringing household supplies such as groceries and toiletries, because most Columbia-area stores should carry them. Above all, "bring something from home that reminds you of home," she said.

Morgan Simkins, a third-year risk management insurance and finance student, said "the most essential item I brought for freshman living were shower shoes." Also, a vaccum, cleaning supplies and a speaker come in handy, she said. Cleaning supplies are important because "college dorms are small and can get dirty fast," Simkins said.

Perhaps even more important than purchasing the right items is setting ground rules, assuring compatibility with roommates and having similar goals, Nicholas Dorrian, a fourth-year chemistry student, said. 

Before getting to really acclimate to your four-year home in Columbia, though, you will need to know how to navigate the first day of classes, Audrey Chen, a second-year accounting and finance student and summer orientation leader, said.

Chen said Columbia's famously hot weather is a consideration that must be taken for the first day of classes. Chen recommended wearing a pair of sunglasses, lathering up with sunscreen and coming with a great attitude. 

Chen's colleague, Avion Mahoney, a second-year account and finance student, also gave a recommendation on what to wear for the first day of classes. 

"For your first day of classes, I would recommend wearing some comfortable shoes and a sassy outfit, so you can be the flyest one on campus.Just make sure you strap up them sneakers because you're going to be doing a lot of walking," Mahoney said.

The majority of upperclassmen agree on how to handle buying textbooks for classes. Jordan said she bought her textbooks before classes started as a freshman, a mistake she would end up learning from. 

According to Jordan, there's many of reasons freshman should avoid buying books early: Syllabuses are often outdated or professors switch material. Jordan said employees of the Barnes & Noble store on campus and upperclassmen who have previously taken classes can lead you in the right direction.

As for social life, Simkins had two crucial pointers. First, talk to fellow hall and dorm residents.

"These people can become friends for the rest of your college career," Simkins said.

Next, don't stress about rushing a fraternity or sorority.

”I would advise not rushing into Greek life if you aren’t sure about it,“ Simkins said. “There are plenty of other ways to make friends!”

Tahsin Tabassum, a third-year psychology student, reminded freshmen to remember why they are here at Carolina in the first place: academics.

"Be consistent, be punctual, finish work, finish tasks on time and get enough sleep and rest," Tabassum said.


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