As the newest class of freshmen ventures onto campus for their first time as University of Connecticut students, it is safe to say that they will be feeling a range of emotions come move-in day. There are the ones who are so eager to make friends and get going that they fly through the check-in process, and those that are shy and anxious that try to hold onto their parents as long as possible before they inevitably leave. The majority of students fall somewhere within the aforementioned range, but there are a few who do not quite fit into this category. I, personally, was one of these outliers.
I did not originally plan on attending the University of Connecticut. When applying to schools it was an obvious option, and with tuition being more reasonable than any other school I had my pick of, it ended up being the one to choose. That, of course, did not necessarily mean I was excited about it. The possibilities and ‘what-if’s’ constantly swirled in my head after my decision had been made.
What if I got lost and could not find a map on the huge campus? What if I was not able to make new friends and only stuck with my friends from home? What if I fell asleep during my huge lectures and missed all of my classes? How on earth would I ever stand out in a place I felt I would only be swallowed up?
However, over the past two years I have learned that while my expectations about life at UConn were not totally wrong, I was misguided in thinking that everything was only going to be a negative. So to all the freshmen who were never planning on UConn, let me attempt to ease some of the fears and assumptions you may have made about your college experience.
1) Friends. While you may be tempted to think that going to a huge university will make it hard to narrow down a friend group, you could not be more wrong. In fact, going to a large school like UConn will actually give you a huge advantage. At a smaller college, it will be hard to find a student body that is as diverse in their hobbies, beliefs and backgrounds as those at our university. Because of this, the options for new friendships are essentially endless. And remember, if you make the wrong choice at first, you have 30,000 more students to choose from.
2) Classes. Those of you who planned on attending a smaller liberal arts college may have been excited by the prospect of having limited class sizes where you can get to know your professors and fellow students. Unfortunately, you are right to assume that this is not always a possibility at UConn due to the overwhelming student body. However, with each 350-person lecture comes a smaller discussion section, and once in a blue moon you will have that coveted eight-person class that reminds you of both the joys and horrors of having an educator’s undivided attention.
3) Navigating. This one is a bit unavoidable. It’s a large school and the campus is huge. Find a map, phone a friend, ask someone on the street who looks like they are walking with more purpose than you. I guarantee they will almost always stop to help.
4) Standing Out. UConn is a large school. There is no denying that, and as such, it has a terrifically multitalented student body. While this may be intimidating, it shows how no matter what, there are always opportunities to make yourself known and set yourself apart. Be it at sporting events, in the theater, in a club you are passionate about, or writing in the school paper, UConn’s large size provides the maximum number of opportunities to make yourself stand out among all 30,000 of your peers.
To all those who have unexpectedly ended up here, your next four years will be what you make of them. This school will give you as much as you put in, and will return your efforts with a sense of pride and community that will be hard to find at any other school, large or small. So no matter what road lead you, what matters most is that now, you are here.
Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.