The Daily Gamecock

Column: Take advantage of your time at college

<p>A picture of the sign above the Leadership and Service Center on July 5, 2022. The center houses a number of offices that offer personal development and service opportunities for students.&nbsp;</p>
A picture of the sign above the Leadership and Service Center on July 5, 2022. The center houses a number of offices that offer personal development and service opportunities for students. 

College can be a really good time in someone's life, and it's important to value the years you're there. Take advantage of your time by getting involved and fully using the resources that USC offers.

Starting college at a young age can be daunting. You're on your own for the first time, and there are so many different paths students can take. It's important for first-year students and any student at USC to spend those college years wisely by getting involved. 

USC has a lot of resources, like the Student Success Center, to help everyone on campus thrive. The Student Success Center offers programs like peer tutoring, money management sessions and exam prep. It's important to remember that people are on campus to help students no matter the situation.

"We're here for all students, and the resources and the strategies and tips are really just trying to help you get ahead and help you figure out what's going to be best for you moving forward," Dana Talbert, director of the Student Sucess Center, said. "We want students to know that it's not just for the ones that are failing or in need of any support that really any students should feel welcome and comfortable to be here." 

One option that USC presents is its first-year experience, a term coined here at USC, that helps students through their first year. It offers online courses that could benefit all students, like how to succeed if you are on academic probation and how to enhance student success. University 101 (U101) is also part of the first-year experience and is a class that all freshmen should take. 

U101, a course recommended to all incoming freshmen in their first semester, helps students to start college on the right foot. It will help students navigate through their classes and give them a community that is going through the same scary time. 

"University 101 is so important for helping to establish a sense of belonging at the University of South Carolina," Dan Friedman, executive director for University 101 programs, said. "And sense of belonging is such an important concept for humans and any kind of organization." 

U101 is not required, but highly recommended. There are only 18 students in each class to help everyone get comfortable with each other. In the class, students do icebreakers, learn tons about the university and — probably most helpful — learn the best ways to transition from high school to college. The course is taught by a faculty, staff or administrative member and an upperclassman that acts as a peer leader.

"It's hard to be a first-year student now, and you know, we know all of our students are going to struggle with something and having two sets of eyes and ears and two hearts in the classroom that can be looking out for signs of trouble, or be there as a resource for our students is critical," Friedman said. "So make sure that no students fall through the cracks." 

For older students at USC, being a peer leader is a great way to get involved with the university and gain leadership experience. Having leadership experience in college is not only a good resume booster, but also helps students get comfortable with interacting and leading others. 

The student affairs office offers lots of leadership opportunities like greek life, orientation leadership and the Leadership and Service Center. The center is a group on campus that provides volunteer opportunities and helps students practice leadership skills through programs like the Camp Cocky Leadership Retreat and the Close Family Emerging Leaders Program (CFELP)

"(CFELP) runs in fall and spring, and it's an eight-week program where they'll get to work on leadership development within a cohort of other people who are also looking to build leadership skills," Sully Hutto, a fourth-year psychology student and student life ambassador in the Leadership and Service Center said.

COVID-19, which hit in March of 2020  and cut off the class of 2023's freshman year, forced most classes and clubs online, making it harder for students to get involved. Now that the university has in-person classes and clubs back, it is a good time as ever for everyone to get involved, even if the 2022-2023 year is your final year at USC. 

"Be where your feet are," Hutto said. "Don't over-exhaust yourself, but definitely just when opportunities come up, say yes. If you're willing and able, just be there."

College can be one of the best times in someone's life, and USC offers so many ways to get involved and help students navigate the college experience. 

Take these special years and do the most you can. 


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