Recapping my college experience, as a graduating senior, feels so surreal. Has it really been four years already? I started my college career at East Carolina University. After a year, I slowly started to realize that ECU wasn’t the perfect school for me. When I decided to try a new school, I toured UNCW and immediately fell in love and realized it was where I was supposed to be. I fell in love with the campus, the city, and most importantly, the community. When I began my journey here at UNCW, I had no idea what was in store for me. I started with few friends, a lack of self-awareness, and an undecided major. As I wrap up my last year, I am leaving with a full support system, new passions, great experiences, lifelong memories, and a degree in Communication Studies.
College is what you make of it and doesn’t have to be strictly for an education. College gives you the opportunity to meet new people, get involved, and discover who you are as a person. As a communication studies major, I know how encouraging a strong community can be. I am surrounded by incredible professors and peers that truly want each and every student to succeed. Don’t spend your college years in fear of stepping out of your comfort zone because you will learn more about yourself each time you do. If there is a club that seems interesting to you, join it! If the person that sits next to you in class wants to meet for coffee, get a coffee! If your professor offers a study session during their office hours, go study! College will be over before you know it, so always try to make the best of it.
Switching Your Major
There is an immense amount of stress that comes along with picking your major, but there shouldn’t be. You may choose something and discover that it’s not meant for you. When I was a freshman, I was majoring in psychology because I thought I wanted to be a guidance counselor. I thought I had my entire future planned out and I assumed that I would love it. I quickly came to the realization that I was not passionate about psychology. I could not get myself interested and I felt that I was in too deep to change it. When I transferred here, all three of my roommates were Communication Studies majors. I decided to take a COM class with them, not knowing that I would end up loving it. I talked with my advisor, and I changed my major; I am so unbelievably thankful that I did. My advice to all incoming college students, is to understand that it is perfectly ok to change your major. It may take a year (or even two) to find your passion. Do not let yourself get stuck in a major that you do not enjoy because you are scared of change. The change will be worth it!
Roll with the Punches
College is one big giant leap into adulthood, and adulting is HARD! Earning a degree isn’t meant to be easy but the experience you gain and the memories you make along the way are completely worth it. During my first semester at UNCW, Wilmington was struck by Hurricane Florence and the damage to our campus was extensive. We were out of school for weeks and adjusting to new living situations while coping with the fact that our town experienced some major losses. It was hard, but it made the Wilmington community stronger than before. My last three semesters have been anything but normal. My junior year, news broke about a global pandemic and the dream of a never-ending spring break became a reality. However, it wasn’t as dreamy as it may sound. Here I am, continuing my final semester of college from my living room. Things became overwhelmingly difficult. I was laid off from my job and could no longer afford to live by myself, resulting in me moving back home. I felt defeated and experienced major FOMO while living my college years with my parents. I started putting things into a different perspective and came to the realization that I was not experiencing this alone. I looked forward to my daily class zoom meetings and the COM department made every student feel heard and appreciated during such trying times. My advice for all incoming Seahawks is to just do the best you can, try to keep a positive attitude, and know that sometimes, it is ok to not be ok.
As my time here at UNCW winds down, I think back to my first walk down Chancellors. I think about how much this community has shaped me into the person I am today. I look forward to my future and beginning my next chapter of life. My college experience was quite out of the ordinary, but I wouldn’t change any of it. Oh, the joy of being a Seahawk!
Written by Jessica Burgess. You can learn more about Jessica and our other blog writers by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!
I’ve been enjoying all the reflection essays by the team, but I thought I would comment on this one regarding a theme that ran across several posts. “Changing your major” is big and we get a lot (LOT) of that in COM. We’re very cool with that! One of the reasons we’ve stayed at 42 hours and not created formal tracks is to remain student friendly to those changing majors and those changing interests within COM. Many come to us from CSB and CHHS, but we also have folks who come with ESPN or Event Planner as Plan A only to discover “maybe not” which leads to “now what?!?!” and the ability to shift focus is part of the journey. Congrats to each of you who are graduating!
Thanks Dr. O! We are so grateful for all the COM department does to make us feel welcome.