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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

Freshman friendships: Are Centennial seniors ready to jump into the college social scene?

As Centennial’s senior class stands on the cusp of college, anxiety and excitement about the social life of the next four years have started to flood conversations at lunch tables and during free periods. Roommates, campus and Greek life are no longer reserved for the far-off future, and Centennial students and alumni have been grappling with the pressure.
The Second-Look Fair at the University of Maryland.
Photo Credit: Maryland Today-University of Maryland
The Second-Look Fair at the University of Maryland. Photo Credit: Maryland Today-University of Maryland

“College is so different from high school,” said Sophia Panageotou, who graduated from Centennial in 2023 and is attending the University of Maryland. As an Environmental Science and Policy major, she has been navigating her first year at college and does not deny that things can get overwhelming at times. “The first week of college was definitely a pretty big shock,” she said. “You have to be ready to socially interact with different people 24/7, which is super draining on top of figuring out how to manage your classes and navigate campus.” However, she noted that “everything is fast-tracked in college so I would say the adjustment period is pretty short. Once you meet people in your dorm, in classes and extracurriculars you definitely find friends quickly.”

Sophia Cherry, a senior at Centennial who will be attending Towson University in the fall to major in Environmental Science, is feeling both nervous and excited to be in a completely new environment in a few months. They are looking forward to meeting new people, but are also apprehensive about all the unknown facets of college life. “The fact that I don’t know what could happen is stressing me out,” they said, noting that it is especially difficult to think that “I can’t plan for what [will] happen, I have to just throw myself into it and hope for the best and use whatever skills I have to figure it out.”

One pressure point that many seniors have been struggling with is the process of finding and securing a roommate. With the advent of social media, many accounts have been created for future students to post pictures and a bio of themselves to find a roommate — the process is eerily similar to online dating, with students liking posts and messaging people they feel could be a potential roommate. Panageotou took this route heading into her freshman year. “I preferred this option over going random because I wanted to get to know who my roommate was going to be prior to move-in. It for sure gave me some peace of mind that I knew who I was going to room with but it definitely took a lot of time from my day before I decided,” she said, noting that she spent time messaging people to see who would be the best fit. On the other hand, Cherry has decided to have a randomly assigned roommate after hearing that it was a good way to meet people. With this process, incoming students typically fill out a questionnaire about their preferences and daily habits and the university matches students whose answers are compatible. Cherry noted that they are a bit nervous that the process won’t work well, but said, “I’m more excited because I feel like there’s more of a chance that something good could come out of it. Even if we’re not best friends, it’s someone new to meet.”

Beyond meeting a roommate, there are plenty of organizations and clubs that students can join to meet people. Panageotou says that the University of Maryland hosts a first and second look fair where clubs set up booths for students to view and interact with. She is involved in some environmentally-related clubs to meet people with similar interests as well as to gain experience with topics related to her major. Looking ahead, Cherry is interested in joining environmentally-focused clubs as well, but is also considering joining Towson’s Fusion Dance Team. After talking with members of the club, Cherry felt excited about the opportunity to be part of a dance group that focuses on fostering friendships that go beyond the club. “I really like that part of it, that it is not just … you show up once every Tuesday night and then you don’t see each other,” they said. “It seems like a lot of the clubs plan activities and get together outside of their club activities. That was definitely something that I was hoping to find, especially moving to a different environment.” One overall organization that appeals to many incoming college freshmen is Greek life. Panageotou did not join a sorority, but had friends that did. “From what they told me, the process was intense and pretty draining but most of them are really happy where they ended up,” she noted. The process to join, known as “rushing,” takes days of meeting with sororities, and both the sorority and the rusher rank who or where they want to join. “At Maryland, you have to get a bid from at least one sorority, so if you really want to be a part of Greek life, you’re guaranteed a spot,” Panageotou pointed out. 

While being in an entirely new environment can bring a lot of anxiety, it is also the root of so much excitement. “Here, you see the majority of the same people forever,” said Cherry. “I think I’m excited for [the fact that] people don’t know how I was in elementary school, people don’t know how I was in middle school, people don’t know how I was in high school.” Starting with a clean slate and meeting people “with your personality as it is now” makes Cherry enthusiastic about heading to college. Even aside from clubs and other organizations, Panageotou emphasized that the less-regimented atmosphere of college allows students to make strong connections with others. “Since there is so much choice over how you spend time outside of classes, there is a ton of time to spend with your friends, which is so fun,” she said. While the experience does have its ups and downs, finding your way through the social aspects of college is something that every freshman experiences. “More than anything, I would say to give yourself room to grow and change,” Panageotou advised. “Not everything is going to go exactly how you want or planned and you have to learn how to adapt to really big changes. Overall, I would say don’t try to force anything, whether that be a friendship or a lifestyle change, just do what makes you happy.”


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About the Contributor
Abby Conrad, Feature Editor