The transition from High School to college is a very important time. Confusion will be common at first along with many questions, insecurities, and self-doubt. This period extends far past the summer after senior year and is not over until months into freshman year of college. After High School graduation, NOLS was staring me in the face, along with four years of uncertainty and seemingly limitless possibilities ahead of me. As an avid overthinker, I spent most of my time on NOLS thinking about the future. Sitting on the edge of a mountain top, I looked into the open field and wondered what UNC Charlotte had in store for me. The calm scenery did nothing to ease my anxiousness about college. I had read books, watched movies, and coming of age tv shows that had molded my expectations of what college would be like. That was one of my many motivations on NOLS. If I could make it through these next few weeks, I would be able to find out what would come next in my life.
The Transition Team was a way for me to get some of my early questions out of the way. On phone calls with the Levine Scholars office, my mother did most of the talking. I understood where her concerns were coming from. She often had questions I would have never thought of. I remember her asking if I should bring my epi-pen to NOLS because of my shellfish allergies. I had to reassure her that I would not be eating lobster or shrimp in the middle of the mountains. However, in Lander a few months later, I found my epi-pen at the bottom of my bag. The Transition team gave me the opportunity to talk to a current scholar one on one about my worries or thoughts about college life. I finally saw a glimpse of what my life would look like at UNC Charlotte and as a scholar in the Levine program. After my first year on campus, I was able to join this team of students whose goal was to welcome in new scholars and be a lifeline to the school during the summer. Incoming Levine scholars into the Levine program have a lot to do right from their acceptance. We try to be their first introduction into this new community and are often the first friends that they will make. My motivations for joining this team were to share my perspectives of my freshman year as a Levine Scholar and to be as transparent as possible. I knew how it felt to be an out-of-state student and see your other friends go home every weekend to see their families and not having the ability to do that. The movies and tv shows about college do not show the full scope of college life and you cannot always prepare for everything. You have to rely on the people around you to help get you through those tough moments. There are situations that you cannot learn from talking to college students before your arrival on campus. You have to take everything as it comes in college and go with the flow.
Once the team was formed, we brainstormed ideas on how we wanted to improve and we set our goals for the year. My main job on the team was to design newsletters for the freshman and send them out every other week. These newsletters included sections such as Scholar Spotlights, where one scholar introduced themselves and spoke about their experiences at UNC Charlotte. My favorite section was NOLS for Dummies which contained tips for NOLS from current scholars. All over the newsletters were quotes from current scholars responding to questions and painting a picture of what the incoming class could expect from their freshman year. Other sections included 49er Survival Guide, Club Corner and, Our favorite Professors. I even got help from my mom who encouraged me to put a section about medicine in the NOLS section.
Each member of our team was given three new scholars to talk with and build a relationship with. I remember talking the ears off of the freshmen with whom I engaged. We talked about high school, NOLS, clubs, organizations, and things that they wanted out of their college experience Another resource we had was a canvas page with Modules on Mental Health, Staff and Transition Team Biographies, and a spot for each newsletter. One member even typed his entire NOLS journal and we included that within the files on the page as well.
This year I am the Leader of the transition team. We plan on building on top of the amazing work that was done in the previous years. The goals we have for this year are to create a canvas page of how-to videos and create additional newsletters to send to the incoming class. Our team is composed of 1 senior, 4 juniors, and 3 sophomores and we each have a different path that we have taken at UNC Charlotte. It is nice to reflect on our time as freshmen and think of things that we would have liked to have known ahead of time; keeping in mind that some information can be taught while other information is best learned during the college journey.
The Transition for each class does not stop once the freshmen walk on campus. In fact, that is where it begins. For myself, I still had doubts and fears during my first month of college. It is difficult in a high-achieving program to feel deserving of what you are given. I slowly saw my doubts melt away as I got more involved and continued to grow as a person. Overthinking got the best of me at some points but I had so many great people around me. Friends to talk to, Professors to help me, and mentors to guide me along my freshman year. It is important to remember that you are qualified and you are enough. You are right where you need to be, at the starting line.