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What It’s Like to Go From a Small High School to a Massive University

For high school I went to a small, art school for vocal in Charleston, SC called School of the Arts. There were less than 200 people in my graduating class and about 1,000 students in the entire school, including middle and high school. Three years ago I would have never even entertained the thought of coming to a huge state school with over 30,000 students and a colossal sports program.

I liked being at school with the primary focus being the arts, and I liked knowing all of my classmates. With that, I thought I had made up my mind to go to College of Charleston, but to satisfy my parents, I signed up for a tour at USC since it is their alma mater. I left the tour in complete shock with how much I actually loved USC, and I began to question if CofC was really the place for me. After pondering for the rest of my junior year and the entire summer, I made up my mind that, although CofC is a great school, something was pulling me to USC.

When I got my acceptance letter, I was overjoyed and immediately began preparing for my first year of college. I was super excited for a change of scenery and to experience what it would be like to go to a school where I would meet someone new every day, but I was also extremely anxious. There were always negative thoughts in the back of my head, “What if this wasn’t the right choice?”, “What if I don’t make friends?”, “What if there isn’t a place for me at USC?”. These fears were paralyzing, but I held onto hope.

On August 20th, I said goodbye to my family and hello to this huge, terrifying school where I hardly had any friends. I didn’t even know how to begin the process of making friends because I had the same friend group for all of middle and high school. Luckily, my roommate and I hit it off right away, and I had one of my best friends from high school with me, so my nerves about being completely alone all the time subsided. However, I still had questions about if there was a place for me in this huge university.

I remembered my orientation leaders telling me that there is literally something on campus for everyone, you just have to make an effort to find it. With that in mind, I went to the organization fair in hopes that I could make this big school seem a little smaller. To my surprise, I found a lot of clubs that I was really interested in. I decided to join Her Campus, Fashion Board, Beekeeping Club and a college ministry for women called Delight. These clubs are helping me make friends and keep busy as I transition to living without my close family and friends around.

I started my freshman year of college excited but apprehensive about what it would be like to go from a small high school to a big university and if I made the right choice. Now that I am a little over a month in, I know without a doubt, that I made the right choice, and I am looking forward to learning about everything else that USC has to offer.

Anna Ritchey

South Carolina '22

I am a freshman at the University of South Carolina, but I am originally from Charleston, SC. My major is fashion merchandising with a minor in business. Although I am not a journalism major, I have always had a passion for writing.
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