The Daily Gamecock gathered up some of USC's 2021 graduates and asked them for some words of wisdom for underclassmen.
Don’t be afraid to take opportunities
USC has many opportunities for students to take advantage of, according to Sophie Kahler, a fourth-year geography student. Whether those opportunities include studying abroad, internships, research or other things the university has to offer, "take advantage of all of the events that we have," Kahler said.
Don’t compare yourself to other people
While taking opportunities is a great thing to do, don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once just because other people might be, Caroline Farrell, fourth-year international business and operations and supply chain student said. Farrell said she wants underclassmen to know they shouldn’t take every opportunity just because other people are doing it. Get involved in things that will build you up after college, she says, not just things to keep you busy.
Experience all the campus dining options
Freshmen are required to get a meal plan, so you might as well take advantage of all of the campus dining while you can, Darren Burton, fourth-year accounting student, said. USC has some hidden gems besides what's in the Russell House. Places such as Top of Carolina, located at the top of Capstone residence hall, or Preston’s at Noon, are some not so well-known spots on campus.
Build relationships with faculty
Building relationships with faculty can definitely be intimidating, but professors have a lot of insight, especially if it is in a field of interest for you, Burton said. According to Burton, whether it be asking for career advice or just life advice, professors are professional role models and resources. Work on building those relationships in class or during office hours — you might find yourself in need of a letter of recommendation down the line, Burton said.
Take advantage of being on a college campus
According to Kahler, there are some experiences you have access to that are unique to college campuses. Those experiences are things such as lectures, panels, museum exhibits or just professional knowledge, and the best part is: It's free.
“When else are you going to be on a campus where there’s just a bunch of brilliant minds, and successful people, and all these influential figures, and they just kind of come talk or network with people for free,” Kahler said.
Find your escape on campus
It can be very easy to feel constantly surrounded by academics, tests, work and more, Burton said. His personal solution is grabbing a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie, he said. Whether it be taking a walk or sitting on the Horseshoe, find a place where you can get away from academics and relax.
Don’t wish your time away
Do not wish away your time at USC. Fourth-year finance and real estate student Jackson Stanton said four years at the university go by “crazy fast.” Even if you are studying for an exam, or having a bad week, live through those journeys, and don’t wish away that time until the next weekend or break, Stanton said.
“If you are waiting until tomorrow, and you are waiting until next week, next month, spring break, summer break — you're wishing all that time away, and you're not really living in the moment of your college experience,” Stanton said.
The Daily Gamecock also asked these seniors about their USC bucket lists.
The local farmers market, spanning blocks of Main Street, has 150 vendors every week. It is a place in Columbia where everyone comes together to showcase their crafts or food. Soda City is a must for your time at USC, according to Burton. Soda City runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Columbia Museum of Art
The Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) is a premier art museum within walking distance from campus. Located on Main Street, the CMA is at the top of several seniors' bucket lists. Additionally, college students only pay $5 for general admission, and the first Thursday of every month has free admission.
Service Saturday is a monthly service day, where students can volunteer and choose from a variety of service sites. Participating in Service Saturday gives back to the Columbia community and offers the experience of the abundance of stories that Columbia has to offer, Burton said.
Columbia borders the Congaree River, and right along that river is The Riverwalk. The Cayce Riverwalk is great for walking, running and biking along. It's also less crowded than Riverfront Park, according to Kahler, making it a great spot for students to relax and de-stress.
Hip Hop Wednesdays
Hip Hop Wednesdays offer a great way to find the Black community at USC, Burton said. Students can get involved and feel more connected to campus while jamming out on Greene Street.
Carolina sporting events
USC has a lot to offer in the world of collegiate sports. From cheering the Gamecocks on during Saturday football or during the basketball games, Carolina offers many different sports experiences for spectators. The culture at every athletic event is different, so take advantage of that experience, Stanton said.
Get to know Columbia outside of the university. The seniors recommended checking out some of local restaurant favorites, such as The Gourmet Shop, Publico, Little Pigs Barbecue and Cantina 76. Concerts downtown and other events are a great way to interact in the capital city, Kahler said. From Five Points with its college town feel to the Vista with its upscale vibe, Stanton said, the city of Columbia has more to offer than meets the eye.