All posts by Kalina Mackay

Leaving Your Heel Print

With almost 19,000 undergraduates, it would hypothetically be easy to blend in at Carolina. But one of my favorite things about our university is that “blending in” isn’t something Tar Heels love to do. There are so many ways to get involved in campus to make yourself stand out that make 19,000 not seem so big or scary at all!

Join a Student Organization

With over 800 student organizations to choose from, it’s almost impossible to not fall in love with at least one! With everything from politics to dance to service, there is sure to be an organization with your name written all over it.

Eight hundred options can seem overwhelming, that’s why Carolina Union hosts FallFest at the end of move in weekend each year. At this beloved UNC event, hundreds of representatives from student organizations set up tables to explain why YOU should join their organization. It’s a super fun event complete with free food, performances, and meeting new friends!

Fall Fest is a popular event for new and returning Heels alike!

Become a Leader in your Org

Once you get settled into the organizations you’re passionate about, stay dedicated to them. Being a leader in a college organization has shaped my Carolina experience. While you may have been president of your high school’s National Honor’s Society chapter, leading a university organization comes with much more responsibility and power. The officers are in charge of everything, from finances to registering with the university to dealing with internal conflicts. By holding a leadership position, not only are you impacting your organization, you also learn a lot about yourself and maybe even your future goals!

Get Involved in Greek Life

This is a popular one that I’m sure you’ve heard all about, and probably have your own ideas about already. While this wasn’t the route for me, I have tons of friends who have found their home at Carolina in a sorority or fraternity. Keep in mind that the meaning and importance of Greek Life extends way beyond all the stereotypes. I highly recommend looking into it with an open mind to explore if you’re interested in rushing!

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Members of UNC Fraternities and Sororities coming together.

Participate in an Intramural Sport

Continuing with the theme of endless options, UNC offers over 50 intramural sports for all skill levels. This is a fun way to channel your inner natty champ winning athlete, get your exercise in, and meet tons of cool people!

From sit-down volleyball to cornhole, there are tons of unique sports for you to try! And if you can’t find your passion, you are more than welcome to start your own team. All you have to do is pull together a few teammates and register with Campus Rec! For more details, check out this link.

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Win an event, score a coveted Intramural Champ T-Shirt!

…Or Just Attend Sporting Events

If you, like me, aren’t as athletically gifted, you can still get involved while staying on the sidelines! Even with little knowledge of sports (speaking from experience) supporting your talented peers can be tons of fun. At the University of National Champions, we’re really into school spirit so this one is a must. With free tickets to games, you might as well take advantage of this incredible perk while you’ve got it. Supporting the Heels is honestly therapeutic, you can let out all the stress from classes with one big “TARRRR…”

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#GetIntoIt!!!!!

Bond with a Professor or Mentor

The staff at UNC is amazing and they are all so incredibly passionate about their jobs – teaching you! Even in those huge lecture halls where it can be easy to sit in the back row, go that extra mile to make sure your professor knows you. Whether it’s sticking around for a couple of minutes after class, shooting them an email, or attending office hours, professors will appreciate students that express interest!

Even if you understand the course material perfectly, simply introducing yourself is a great way to start getting involved in the UNC community. Adults have been in our position and can offer everything from job references to life advice.

 

Bottom line is: no matter how you do it, step outside of your comfort zone and get involved! At Carolina there are so many ways to do so without ever leaving campus, and involvement will help you find yourself, your people and even what you want to do with your life. Don’t spend your four years in your dorm!

SOS I’m Undecided

At eighteen years old, you have tons of decisions to make that can feel like they will affect the rest of your life. You picked a college (congrats, you picked the best one in the world :)) and now you have to pick a major. While some of your classmates may be pursuing their career they’ve dreamed of since they were five, if you’re undecided it can feel like you’re lost without a purpose. But I promise, everything’s going to be okay, and it will all work out.

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You’re Not Alone.

In fact, between 20 and 50 percent of college students enter undecided. On top of that 75% of all students will change their major at least once throughout their college career.[1] So don’t feel like you’re the first student who doesn’t know what they’re doing going into college, because you’re not.

Look at it from the bright side, going in undecided leaves you limitless. You’re free to discover new passions and possibilities, rather than being stuck on one set path. Some people argue that college freshman shouldn’t be able to declare a major for this very reason.

You WILL Change in College.

Spoiler alert: no matter how much you think you know yourself, you will not be the same person in college that you were in high school. There’s something about being completely independent that will change your entire character. And if your character changes, odds are your interests and goals will change with you. So the fact that three out of four students will change their major is not shocking.

UNC offers majors you probably haven’t even heard of. Asian Studies, Classic Archeology, Public Policy, Sociology, you name it! While these may not grab your attention immediately, have you ever really given it a chance? There are so many interesting subjects at university that your high school probably didn’t offer. Here at UNC, you are encouraged to step out of your comfort zone in course planning, you just may find a passion in a field you didn’t know existed!

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Gen. Eds.

In order to produce well-rounded students, there is a set of General Education Requirements all students must fulfill before graduation. These will probably occupy most of your schedule freshman year, meaning you won’t be wasting your time taking random classes if you haven’t decided on a major. You will be taking classes everyone has to take to complete their degree!

Most students will not be taking more than one or two major courses their first semester. So you’re not going to be behind when you come to a decision. In fact, you’ll be ahead of all those people who started their major curriculum and decided it wasn’t the path for them. Being undecided is a completely normal thing and will not by any means set you back on that projected graduation date.

You’re Not Stuck.

While you are encouraged to declare a major before February of sophomore year, you can change your major up until second semester senior year (as long as you can complete the requirements before graduation). There is no ticking clock forcing you to make a decision. You have the freedom to decide whether or not a path is right for you on your own terms.

This also gives you the opportunity to explore your options and fall in love with your major. While you may not be completely set on what you want to do after college when you first declare your major, taking specialized upper level classes will iron this out for you. And if it doesn’t, you can always make a change!

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Advising is Here to Help.

While those “tell us about your pizza preferences and we’ll determine your major” quizzes are fun and all, you don’t have to rely on those to make such a huge life decision for you. In fact, UNC has an awesome team of advisors that are here to guide you in the right direction. They also offer tons of resources that you can look at without leaving your bed here!

 

Still unsure? It’s okay, you don’t have to take my word for it. You’ll see for yourself once you get on campus and find your niche. Don’t stress, you’ll for sure fall in love with UNC and all it has to offer in no time, and with that your major will come to you!

 

[1] https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2013/06/disconnect-choosing-major/

How I Fell in Love with Carolina

UNC is a constant sea of Carolina Blue, filled with die hard Tar Heels who have been born and bred into the family… or at least that’s how the saying goes. But for me, and many other students, this isn’t the case. In fact, my story of how I came to bleed Carolina blue is quite different than the alma mater I chant at the end of every game.

2012

My story starts six years ago when my big sister decided to go to UNC, and I decided (out of sibling spite) I would love Dook. I wasn’t devoted to our gothic rivals, but I took every opportunity I could find to remind my sister what I believed to be true, that Dook was the better blue (which as we all know is a down right lie).

On move-in day I put on a Tar Heel shirt (the least Carolina Blue one I could find) to show my support, but on every other day I would sport Devils gear when I could find it – which became a difficult task growing up in a Tar Heel family. I would take pictures in Dook hats thinking I was so cool; pictures that are now so embarrassing and often come back to haunt me.

My sister (Bryanna MacKay) and I on her freshman move-in day, circa 2012.

2016

Flash forward two years… it’s college decision time for me and I’m an absolute wreck without a dream school or clear path. Carolina seemed like a good fit and an obvious choice being an in-state student, so I applied here and five other schools. After I got back all my decisions I was torn between UNC and Syracuse University – two schools that checked off every box on my list. They both felt like they could be my future home, each with a great journalism program and big on school spirit. They also happened to be two schools playing each other in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Everything in my heart was telling me to go to UNC, but I needed a little push to solidify my decision. So I told my Dad “If Carolina wins tonight, I’m enrolling tomorrow.” He laughed it off, but I was incredibly serious. On April 2nd, 2016, the Tar Heels beat the Orange 83 to 66. On April 3rd, 2016, I paid my enrollment deposit to UNC Chapel Hill.

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THANK YOU Heels, for winning this game and deciding my fate.

Today

Since that moment, I’ve never had a single doubt in my mind that I made a wrong decision. I remember walking through the pit one day in maybe my second week on campus thinking “I’m so lucky”. After all, we get to take classes and live in the most beautiful place in the South, what more could we really ask for??

It’s the way the sun hits the quad under a mesmerizing Carolina blue sky. It’s the smile on the little boy’s face as he walks into the Dean Smith Center with the sparkling number 23 on his chest. Or the feeling of never being completely alone, even if when you feel like you’re hitting rock bottom during finals.

Calling myself a ‘dook fan’ growing up is no comparison to my dedication to this university. There is nothing that gets me more excited than waking up early on a Saturday morning to wait three hours in the cold for a spot on the risers. I will always get goosebumps during the Tar Heel lights show and tear up during the intro video (seven… seven… SEVEN national championships). And I will always shout the alma mater from the top of my lungs, win or lose.

Me (front row, right) taking jump around too seriously, per usual.

I love Carolina for welcoming me in and never making me feel like I was an outsider. When I chant “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I’m a Tar Heel dead”, I really feel like that’s true and it unites me with all my classmates – no matter what our backgrounds may be.

My point is you don’t have to be born into the Carolina family to be a Tar Heel. All those who support UNC support each other, no matter who you have supported in the past. And to me, that’s why this university is such a priceless gem.

Why Having a Roommate is the Best Thing Ever!

Before college, many people never experienced sharing a room with anyone. Even if they did, it was probably a sibling that they felt close enough to yell at or kick out when they needed their own space. So sharing a room with a peer can seem terrifying. But I promise, it doesn’t have to be! You’ve heard all the horror stories of roommates that didn’t get a long, so let’s talk about all the ways that living with a roommate rocks.

You’re never completely alone. 

As much as we all love and need our alone time, too much time spent by yourself can get very lonely, very fast. Odds are that you and your roommate’s schedules won’t perfectly match, and you’ll both have a fair amount of time with the room to yourself.

At the same time, having someone to keep you company when you need can go a long way. It eases the homesickness and all the other struggles of college when there is someone else in the room. Even if you aren’t talking the whole time, just knowing they’re there for you and you aren’t alone is incredibly soothing.

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They understand what you’re going through.

No matter how different your class schedules or backgrounds are, you are both going through the same stage of life – adjusting to college. And no one ever said this stage was easy. Just having someone to talk to and relate to makes you feel a lot less isolated when things get rough.

For every bad exam grade or long night studying, there’s another student who feels your pain, and when it happens to be your roomie, that makes everything that much better.

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They can help you with all your little struggles.

Key got stuck in the door? Scary bug eyeing you from the corner of the room? Locked yourself out? Can’t reach the top shelf? Wind making scary noises? Seriously, what would we do without roomies to come to our rescue???

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You always have someone to binge watch shows with.  

Because watching The Bachelor is so much better with someone to laugh at all the dorky contestants with. Sometimes you just need a break from studying and a good TV show with an eager roommate can be the perfect cure.

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And drag along on other crazy adventures.

What would college be without crazy adventures? From Insomnia Cookies at times where you definitely should be sleeping to exploring Carolina’s best kept secrets – memories much more fun when you have someone to make them with.

Plus, a roommate is much less likely to say no than a text to a random friend. I mean, how could they say no to your face when you have such convincing arguments that this adventure has to happen right now??

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It’s never just you two.

When you’ve had enough of your roommate, the beauty of residence halls is there are so many options of people to hang out with. Whether it’s suitemates or hallmates, you’re sure to find someone else in your building you click with when you need a little escape.

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As much as you may think you’ll hate sharing a room with someone, this is such an essential part of university life. A roommate is that person that doesn’t have to be your best friend but will always be there for you no matter what. And the first weekend they leave you alone, I promise you’ll be begging them to come home soon!

College Stereotypes: Fact or Fiction?

University life is portrayed in a specific way in pop culture, surrounded by tons of perceptions and expectations. But sometimes college doesn’t live up to it’s picture perfect stereotypes. And sometimes, it’s SO much better. Here’s my perspective on the reality behind college stereotypes.

Myth #1: You will hate your roommate.

Maybe you won’t get along with your first ever roommate. It happens! But on the other hand, your roommate could be your best friend. I know tons of people who loved their freshman roommate and lived with them all four years. Sure, I’ve heard the occasional horror story, but they’re not as common as you might think.

Being best friends with your freshman roommate and completely hating your roommate are two strong extremes, and from my experience, both are pretty rare. It’s no surprise that people change a lot when they come to college and picking a roommate as a high-schooler can be extremely difficult when you don’t know how you function as a college student. Odds are that you’ll get along just fine, overcome any minor conflict, and have a great year together!

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Myth #2: You get to skip class whenever you feel like it.

Actually attending classes is a must in college. Even in big lecture halls, a lot of professors have sign in sheets, use apps like ‘Poll Everywhere’, or assign random pop quizzes to record student’s attendance. So if you think you can pass every class by only showing up on exam days, you might have to think again.

While this may seem like a hassle, at the end of the day it rewards students that show up. Many professors calculate attendance as a portion of your final grade, so having perfect attendance really does have its perks. It can easily be the difference between a ‘B+’ and an ‘A-’!

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Myth #3: Your dorm is going to feel like living in a shoe box.

Okay so your dorm room may not be as big as your master bedroom at home that you have all to yourself. But your space in your dorm really is what you make of it. It’s definitely not at as small as what you’re probably imagining. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all survived! Struggling? Read this article for tips!

My biggest piece of advice: don’t. over. pack. I’m totally guilty of it, I hate leaving anything at home in the off chance that I’ll be stuck in that one situation where I desperately need that specific item. But be practical! The more stuff you bring into your dorm, the more space you have to use to store it.

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Myth #4: Sharing a bathroom sucks.

Whether you’re living suite style or hall style, you’ll have to share a bathroom with someone. It may take some adjusting not being able to shower whenever you feel like it, but typically you won’t even notice! Hall style offers multiple showers per floor, so the likelihood of someone being in every shower at any given time is slim. In suite style you’re sharing a bathroom with 3 to 7 other people, so communication is key!

If you’re worried about your suite- or hall-mates making a mess, remember that in the 4-room suites and hall style buildings, we have an amazing cleaning staff that does the hard work for you! 2-room suites must be cleaned by the residents, but repeat: communication. is. key.

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Myth #5: You will never get to sleep.

In college you’ll definitely experience some long nights studying, especially when finals season rolls around. But the idea that all college kids ‘never sleep’ is completely false. I’m a girl who doesn’t function well on no sleep, so getting rest is definitely a priority to me. Keeping an organized schedule and staying on top of your school work allows you to get the right amount of beauty sleep to keep you mentally sane.

I’m not saying it’s always easy to get that full 8 hours, but it’s for sure doable. Two keys to making time for a wholesome slumber – avoid procrastination and prioritize whats most important (even when that means sacrificing something you really want to do).

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Fact #1: You will have SO MUCH FUN!

The realest thing I’ve ever heard about college is that it is the best four years of your life. You will learn so much about yourself and change in more ways than you knew possible. You’ll overcome very real challenges that will make you a stronger person. And at the end of the day, you will meet life-long besties and make unforgettable memories while finding your passions.

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Everyone has a different college experience and it doesn’t always play out like you may expect it to. The image of the perfect college life you have in your head very quickly might come crashing down when things aren’t going the way you assumed they would. But you will get through it. And at the same time, you’ll find joy in places you never expected to. After all, the unpredictability of it is part of what makes college so fun!

After Applying for Housing: What You Can Do to Beat the Wait

The priority housing deadline has passed, you’ve done your research on all the residence halls, and maybe you’ve found a roommate. You’ve clicked submit on your housing application… so now what? (If you haven’t done this yet – it’s not too late! Do it right now here, and then come read this!) Before you know it, you’ll be moving into your new home, making memories that will last a life time. But until then, waiting to get your housing assignment and move into your future dorm can feel like an eternity.  Here are some things you can do while you wait!

  1. Start Planning Decorations

Whether you want to get crafty or buy decorations, pick a theme or mix and match, coordinate with your roommate(s) or do your own thing, you have plenty of decisions to make. Your dorm is your space, and you’re going to be living in it for a whole year, so make it your own! This will definitely make it feel like home in no time.

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  1. Get to Know Your Classmates

Maybe you know a few high school friends joining you at Carolina, or maybe you’re coming in not knowing anyone. Either way, you will meet SO many new people once you come to college, so you might as well get a head start now!

Join your class’s Facebook page or GroupMe and introduce yourself! They may seem like strangers now, but you’ve all chosen  UNC and are officially a part of the Carolina family. This family is so welcoming, and many of your classmates are just as eager to meet you as you are to meet them!

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  1. Get Pumped for Orientation!

It’s a two-day Carolina-filled experience, what’s not to love? If you haven’t already fallen in love with this campus, you’re sure to start appreciating it during orientation. From meeting fellow students, to touring around the campus, to learning more about your future life as a student – this will make everything feel very real. After just 48 hours, you’ll leave UNC even more excited for your next four years than you were when you arrived.

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  1. Learn All The UNC Chants

For all you ‘Tar Heel Born and Tar Heel Bred’s out there, this one probably is a no-brainer. But if you weren’t raised a Carolina fan, learning the chants are a must. At UNC, almost everyone you meet will have tons of school spirit and chanting on our sports teams from the student section is one of the many ways we express this spirit.

A tradition we have after every game, win or lose, is to wrap arms around each other and sing the alma mater. Singing and chanting with my fellow Tar Heels after a game is one of my favorite UNC things, it’s a sacred tradition that never gets old. Plus, you’ll look like a real pro at orientation if you already know these chants.

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  1. Binge Watch Carolina Sports

Along the same lines of school spirit, if you’re not a Tar Heel fan yet, you will be very soon. Even if you don’t like sports. I couldn’t have cared less about basketball before coming here, but it didn’t take long for me to get hooked.

Even though it’s not basketball season right now (cries), UNC has so many great sports teams to follow. If you’re not in the area, most of our sporting events are broadcasted on TV or online! And, you can always go back and watch old games! (I highly recommend the basketball game against Gonzaga on April 3rd, 2017… just saying…)

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  1. Look at The Course Catalog

Choosing classes can be overwhelming – there are so many options! Don’t stress, you’ll get tons of guidance at orientation to walk you through registration and point you in the right direction in selecting classes. But if you want to be proactive, start looking at UNC’s online Course Catalog here to see what kind of classes you might be interested in.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things, college is the perfect time to do that! Take some classes that stick out to you, even if they’re not a General Education or Major requirement. Maybe you’ll find a hidden passion in a place you never knew existed!

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  1. Follow UNC Housing on social media

Shameless self-promo? Maybe. But seriously, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest (@unchousing) and add us on Snapchat (@carolinahousing). We’re here to show you what resident life is really like on campus, and want to make your transition to college as easy as possible. Reach out to us on any of these platforms if you have any questions!

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Bottom line is, this summer will fly by! You will be moving into your new home in no time and we can’t wait to meet you all, we know you’re going to love it here!