Guide to the best first semester at UNCW


Maddie Driggers and Sami Dickerson

A student’s freshman year in college can seem daunting and even a little nerve-racking at first. However, there are so many new opportunities and resources to explore on a college campus and the community that can make your first year unforgettable. Here are some of the best ways to make the most of your first year at UNCW!


Get Involved

Freshmen may be wondering where to find fun activities that are free or cheap on campus. The Association for Campus Entertainment, or ACE, hosts many of the fun events you’ll see on campus for students. Upcoming events, such as movies, concerts, spirit days, shadow casts and art galleries, can all be found on the ACE’s social media or website.

Another important thing to experience during freshman year is joining a club. Most freshmen do not want to join a club because it seems very overwhelming, but in reality, clubs don’t take up that much time and are often better for the social aspect of college that students must navigate. There are so many clubs that people have started in all areas of interest that everyone can find something in which they find interest. You can join groups such as ACE, SGA, Student Ambassadors, UNCWeekends and over 280 other student groups on campus.

The first year is a great time to start because it allows freshmen to get a foot in the door and run for offices if they choose to for second year as well. Wavelink is the online resource that allows students to shop around for different clubs that match their interests, and the Campus Activities and Involvement Center, or “CAIC,” presides over that resource as well.

Getting an on-campus job is also a great way to meet people and get involved. Groups like Campus Life are always hiring students as Event Staff, Building Managers and more. These students get the opportunity to set up and assist staff during various events and help with day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of running the multiple buildings on campus. For more information about these positions, visit the Campus Life office or website.


Take Part in Traditions

Having the best experiences for the first year of college sometimes means getting involved in the traditions that UNCW has created in the past. Two really fun traditional events where attendance is imperative during freshman year are Beach Blast and the Midnight Target Run.

Beach Blast will occur on Tuesday, August 21, and is a giant party hosted by the school at Wrightsville Beach. Not only will there be food and many activities provided for students with an ID, but this is a great way for freshman to mingle and get to know other students.

One lesser known thing event that has become a tradition for many students at UNCW is the midnight Target run. On that night, Target is only open to students, and they can buy whatever they want without shopping stress. Normally there are great giveaways, a dance floor, a DJ, and free food and drinks. It is an overall fun time and a way to make great friends. For more information about both of these events, visit UNCW’s website.


Attend Sporting Events

Just because UNCW doesn’t have a football team doesn’t mean we don’t show our Seahawk pride for some of our other great athletic programs. Basketball tends to be a major sport for our campus and involves lots of tradition as well.

To kick off the season every fall, ACE and UNCW Athletics throw a celebratory event on Hoggard Lawn and in Trask Colosseum. Freshmen are encouraged to first take part in the “Trek to Trask” where students from the dorms are rounded up by RAs and walk together to Hoggard Lawn. Here, they enjoy the first event of the night, Fan Jam. This part of the evening is put on by ACE and features free food, inflatables, and live music to celebrate the start of basketball season.

After this, students walk to Trask for a pep rally put on by UNCW Athletics that features games, prizes and the first official introduction of the basketball team. These events are designed to get students hyped up for the new season and regular season games begin shortly after this celebration. For more information about these events, follow ACE on social media or check out the athletics website.


Utilize Your Resources

Something that is a top priority for first year students is laying a good foundation for grades and GPA. Some resources that are helpful for keeping up with academics are Supplemental Instruction courses and the Writing Center. Both are free resources provided by the school.

The Supplemental Instruction courses, or SI courses, are mainly used in sciences classes where a bulk of the information is being taught quickly. These are good places to practice doing problems with a large group of peers. They also offer the aid of an older SI leader that has taken the class before and works closely with the professors that teach the classes to answer questions when students get confused or stuck.

At the Writing Center, students that are employed by UNCW help their peers craft research papers and polish their writing. This is a resource that is helpful in many heavy writing courses or if students just need help learning about grammar and syntax. It requires an appointment be made before attending, and students must specify their reason for visiting beforehand as well. To make an appointment, visit the Writing Center’s website.

Another non-academic resource that is free for students is the UNCW Counseling Center. If you are struggling with stress, homesickness or any mental health issue, you can make an appointment at the Counseling Center and see a therapist who will help you with anything you’re struggling with. This is a great resource for freshman who are settling into a new environment. For more information, visit the Counseling Center’s website.


Get to Know Wilmington

Exploring Wilmington will be a rite of passage for many freshmen and finding good places to go on a limited budget is a top priority.

The beautiful thing about living so close to the ocean is the appreciation many students gain for the planet, the natural resources that it provides and the other creatures that live on it. Visiting a place like Fort Fisher Aquarium is a great place to learn about the environment that surrounds UNCW, and tickets are only $12.95. There are many different tanks with tropical and native fish, turtles, alligators, butterflies and jellyfish for students to learn about and enjoy.

From a food perspective, Boombalatti’s ice cream shop is a great hang-out in Wilmington that is a can’t-miss. It has 31 flavors and they change the flavors to include seasonal special flavors as well. They also have collectible stickers with their logo on them that change with the season as well. It is a relatively inexpensive place for great ice cream and a good atmosphere to be in. They currently have a 4.9/5 rating on Facebook, so the cost is worth the experience.

Everyone knows the beach is one of the most popular aspects of living in Wilmington, but the historic downtown area is also a fun destination to explore with friends. You can take a walk by the river, do some homework in local coffee shops and eat some of the best food in the city. There are so many hidden gems to discover in this area of Wilmington, so get out there and find them all!