UNC Splash; The Experience

Francine Simbulan, Sese Jabir and Sujana Islam at the steps of the Wilson library at the University of Chapel Hill. (Photo used by permission of Sese Jabir)

Getting into the college of their choice is one of the most important goals for upperclassman a Leesville Road High School. To achieve said goal, students spend hours to maintain good grades and participate in extracurricular activities. Many upperclassman also start touring colleges to narrow down the list of universities they may apply to in the future.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill allows students to tour the campus and experience the life of a UNC student through an unconventional way – the UNC Splash program.

This seasons program took place on on Saturday November 10, with classes starting at 10 in the morning. To gain a feel for one of the top schools on my list, and out of journalistic curiosity, I signed up for the intriguing program, hopeful for the insights it was sure to bring.

My first step after the initial sign up was the selection of the classes I wanted to take. Classes ranged in level of difficulty from memes to neurorehabilitation, and I chose neurorehabilitation as my first period. Some of my other classes included “How to Create a Universal Organ” and “Exploring Medicine in Ancient Civilizations.” The wide range of class topics allowed high school students to explore college classes and even gain sight into their future academic career.

Two weeks from the date I had initially signed up, the day had come. In order to arrive on campus in time for the check-in, I had to wake up around 7:30 in the morning. In order to participate in the program, students were required to fill out a form and pay the fee of $20.

I arrived on campus an hour early, and immediately experienced difficulty in navigating to the appropriate parking deck. On the UNC Splash website, two different parking decks were listed, along with the fact that balloons and volunteers would be available to direct students and parents to the appropriate hall. Arrival time started at 9 and ended at 10, and at 9:30, not one volunteer nor any balloons were in sight.

By the time my parents and I figured out where to park, we had spent nearly thirty minutes driving around campus. Shortly after we were ushered to student check in, and then to another an attached cafe where we waited until 10:30 to be released to find our classes. Surprisingly, finding the different buildings was the easiest part of the day. With a map, and common sense, many of the classes were a short walk away, if not in the same building.

Most of my classes were only forty five minutes long, so they remained interesting, and at times even fun. The teachers were students at the University of Chapel Hill majoring in the topics that they taught. Many of them even allowed for a question and answer session about their majors, experiences and opinions about the highly ranked school.

After the first three periods, students had an hour lunch break where they served pizza (included in the $20 fee). It  also allowed us to explore the campus or stay and eat where the registration initially took place.

One thing to note about the program is that it’s mentally and physically exhausting. After a week of school, drained high school students like myself were taking variations of classes a graduate school student would take. Classes began at 10:30 and ended at 5:00 p.m., so it was a long day. In my opinion, UNC Splash is a informative program that allows high school students to get a taste of college life. Although the program has it benefits, the exhaustion factor overcame some of the enjoyability, and many students found themselves falling asleep after the hour long lunch break.

After experiencing the ups and downs of the program, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to put in the effort and experience the UNC campus outside of a regular tour, as well as anyone who has not experienced anything like the program before. Due to the negative factors that outweighed the positive, I will not be partaking in the program in the coming spring.  

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