At orientation all freshmen received a “Carolina Forever” class of 2023 shirt that we wore proudly with a black lanyard holding our CarolinaCards hung safely around our necks.
However, why have my friends and I have banished said items to the back of our closets in exchange for a large T-shirt and athletic shorts?
Being a freshman can feel like wearing a target on your back, but there are certain, sometimes strange, ways to avoid being identified as a first-year student at Carolina. For some reason, the dreaded Carolina Gamecocks lanyard is a surefire way to point out a freshman.
I have been told many times by older students to never wear my lanyard around my neck, and the same was told to other USC first-year students.
“My mentors who were juniors told us not to dress up for class, they told us not to wear makeup to class, or not to wear lanyards around our necks or the class T-shirt that we bought," first-year pharmacy student Raygan Mona said.
As freshmen, we are constantly worried about “looking weird” far more now than I even remember in high school. This is partly because, in high school, the norms from middle school carry over, so freshmen have less adjusting to do when it comes to meeting the status quo. In college, people from all over come together and create a new idea of what is “normal” to wear to class, or where there is a “normal” place to carry your Carolina Card.
In my high school, dressing nice showed that you had your life together and, therefore, everyone looked nice pretty much everyday at school. You had to have a good outfit for the first four days of school so you could let loose and wear a hoodie and leggings on Friday. Here, there is a completely different dynamic; I rarely see girls wearing a skirt or even jean shorts to class.
First-year nursing student Heather Oleksiw said she would not want to “stand out too much,” but she doesn’t mind the relaxed attire of our student body.
“The campus vibe is also my vibe,” Oleksiw said.
I, too, am now the girl on campus wearing the T-shirt that covers my shorts everyday because, naturally, I want to do what everyone else does.
Third-year exercise science student Malena Bruno said she has told freshman to dress this way in order to “help them feel more welcome and not stick out from others.”
Freshmen such as myself, who want to look like they know what they're doing, take this advice to heart. But this unwritten rule is not rigid. Malena said that there is not a negative connotation to being an obvious freshman. After all, most seniors admit to envying the new students who have their whole college experience ahead of them.
Fitting in at college can be something that gives freshmen a lot of anxiety in the first couple of weeks of school. These expectations of USC students are often learned the hard way but, realistically, it is not the end of the world if you wear a sundress to class or put your lanyard around your neck because, honestly, it’s convenient.
Freshmen put a nonexistent spotlight on themselves, by maintaining the same self-conscious fears they had in high school. Upperclassmen are not walking around campus worrying about what freshmen are doing. Everyone is just trying to get through the day and, most of the time, no one will notice your not-so-casual wardrobe if you do choose to dress up.
Standing out does not have to be such a bad thing, and being a freshman does not have to be something to hide.