Laurel McIntosh, 18, packed her belongings, said goodbye to the friends she had known since preschool and drove 800 miles from Rhode Island to Charlotte.There she joined the roughly 3,500 other freshmen at UNC Charlotte who didn’t recognize a soul.“I don’t know anyone here,” McIntosh, a communications major, said as she watched students sink pool balls into pockets under the dim light of Norm’s, a popular hangout in the Student Union.“You know me!” said Raven Johnson, who flashed a grin a mile long.Johnson, director of the student Campus Activities Board, and a half-dozen other returning students spent a day during the first week of classes handing out free goldfish at Norm’s for students to liven up their dorms.The advice – the kind that can come only from someone who has worn those same shoes before – was free, too.The Fishy Friends event was one of more than 60 activities scheduled during the university’s Week of Welcome, a seven-day program that introduced new students to campus traditions, college resources and plenty of their peers.“Whether the student is a traditional first-year freshman or a transfer student, UNC Charlotte can be very overwhelming the first time you step foot on campus,” said Shannon Calega, assistant director of new student services. “The growing campus, both physical structure and population, is a lot to take in the first week.”Each year, WOW’s Fishy Friends event serves as an icebreaker. McIntosh, along with at least 100 others, stood in a line that snaked from inside Norm’s out to the Student Union’s front doors. In cafeteria style, students chatted as they picked up plastic aquariums, then waited as returning students down the line poured coral, stuck in rubbery green plants and scooped up little orange fish.Most of the returning students remembered what it was like to be a little fish in a big pond.“One of the biggest issues I had was just getting out there and meeting people,” said Michael Griswold, 25, a graduate assistant who serves on the Campus Activities Board. “It’s kind of daunting when you get on campus and you’re one of 26,000 people.”Enrollment at UNCC has reached record numbers this year. Last year overall enrollment stood around 25,000 students. This year’s freshman class and the number of out-of-state freshmen enrolled have also set record numbers.Griswold encouraged those in line to become joiners. “There are 375-plus student organizations here on campus,” he said. “Find something that you’re passionate about and there’s an organization to help you further that passion.” Shawn Wilds, 19, a sophomore majoring in nursing, said learning to balance work and play helped make her freshman year a success. “Prioritize,” said Wilds. “There’s time to socialize, but you have to make time to study, too.”As she looked into the eyes of Frankie, the new fish Johnson dropped into her aquarium, freshman Katerina Rispoli, 18, from Long Island, N.Y., listened to Johnson’s final advice.“Fish need friends. If they don’t have that they get lonely,” said Johnson.Rispoli told her she had already made her first new friend:“The map.”
Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
UNCC’s 7-day program introduces new students to campus resources, traditions, peers
Week of Welcome introduces new students to resources, traditions, peers
Insider tips for freshmen UNC Charlotte’s Alpha Lambda Chapter of Chi Upsilon Sigma hosted “How to Survive Your First Year at UNCC,” a program that offered freshmen and transfer students advice for living on campus. Here are the highlights, compiled by Melissa Kerr, chapter vice president. Best places to eat to avoid lines • The Prospector. Make sure to get there before 12:15 p.m. • Crown Commons. Don’t go between 3 and 5 p.m. when the stations are closed as they prepare for dinner. • Use the cafés and outtakes for great sandwiches and soups for good prices. Best places to get your books • Gray’s College Bookstore • Rent! Rent! Rent! • Always buy used. • Don’t buy your books until after the first week of class. Wait until your professor lets you know whether you absolutely need it. • chegg.com is a great website for renting books cheaply. • amazon.com. Best shortcuts across campus • Cut through buildings such as CHHS and Burson to get from the main campus to the Student Union. • Get some quick air conditioning or shelter from the rain by passing through buildings on your way. Use campus resources There is a resource or center for everything: the Student Health Center, Writing Resource Center, University Center of Academic Excellence, University Career Center. They are there for you to use and are a key part of success at UNCC. Social survival • Attend as many events as possible. • Check out all the student organizations on campus. There is an organization or club for everything. If there’s not one for your interest, start your own.