Zachary McKinley / The Daily Gamecock

Opinion: Understand campus culture

As a new semester of classes begins and a fresh group of students embark on their college careers, it is important to recognize and celebrate the unique culture of USC. From Five Points to football games, understanding the intricacies of USC life can take a bit of time.

First and foremost, with all the party culture that surrounds the university, take care of your academics. Don’t let a bad GPA from freshman year follow you for the remainder of your college career. If you don’t understand an assignment, ask. And do not underestimate the power of going to office hours. Professors genuinely appreciate students who show effort — if they offer to review a paper or assignment before the due date, let them.

USC offers so many resources (that I’m sure were mentioned more than a few times by orientation leaders and U101 instructors), so use them to your advantage. I’ve been to the writing center and the library more than a few times. Trust me. They really do help.

So sure, you should prioritize academics, but do not forgo the things that will truly define your college experience. You will have few other chances to shout “'Cocks” in a socially acceptable manner. Embrace the oddity of our mascot. You’ll have so much more fun if you do.

Game days are amazing, but there’s a reason they’re called game days. If you think you’re going to fit much studying in on Saturdays, you’re probably wrong. Do an assignment ahead of time, or set aside Sunday to do homework so you can enjoy your game days without feeling guilty about not doing work.

Besides going to football games, partying of some nature is a common USC extracurricular. Don’t feel like you have to go to Five Points or fraternity parties to make friends. I can guarantee it is much more likely for you to find a friend across the hall than at any party. Whether you drink or not, nobody really cares what you do as long as you maintain respect for yourself and other people.

However, if you do want to feel out USC’s party culture, be aware that it’s a bit odd. Fraternity parties are often just a dark, crowded backyard with a few coolers of beer and a couple gallons of party juice, better known as PJ. It’ll be too loud to really talk, but no one will be dancing either. They can be a good time, but they’re not the epitome of entertainment either. Also, for your own sake, please avoid the PJ, especially if you’re an inexperienced drinker. The deceptively tropical flavor makes it hard to tell how strong it is, so just opt for a beer instead.  

If you’d rather go somewhere that isn’t a random backyard and where people actually dance, Five Points might appeal to you. Just like frat parties, going downtown can be pretty fun, but it won’t necessarily be the time of your life. The added responsibility of having your ID, paying for drinks and keeping track of your friends as you bounce from bar to bar can make going downtown more difficult than going to a frat party or simply hanging out with your friends. 

Remember that Five Points isn’t the safest area, so whatever you choose to do, always make sure you surround yourself with people you trust and never let a friend go home alone. Also, don’t be that freshman that lets your grades slip because you go to Monday night Pavs every week. Save your fun for the weekend, and don’t do anything that might land you on Barstool Sports.

USC is unique in so many ways, and is comprised of a student body that not only knows how to tailgate, but how to unite over critical issues. Over the past year, USC students have faced loss and great change with the highly disputed election of Bob Caslen. Do not let your years at USC simply be defined by the amount of time you spend in Five Points. As you now become a USC student, know you are part of a group of deeply passionate and driven students who can make you proud to say “Forever to thee.”  

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