By Savannah Morgan
Outside the Smith Center, students dressed in vibrant Carolina blue cheer and chant. It’s early — just before 9 a.m. on a Saturday — but their energy has a Friday-afternoon intensity.
“Go Heels! Woo!”
Identical blue Mardi Gras beads hang around their necks with metallic whistles dangling from the bottom of the necklaces. The beads bounce as the students jump and shout. One young man dons a UNC-themed bathrobe. White and blue balloons sway at the Smith Center’s Gate A. The festivities aren’t for a Carolina basketball game, though. The cheering students are Admissions Ambassadors, ready to share their love for the University. The March 30 event was one of three Admitted Student Days hosted by the Admissions Office for UNC-Chapel Hill.
Inside the Smith Center, admitted students and their parents sit grouped by their prospective majors. Each major is marked by a laminated sign and a colored balloon — purple, lavender, gold, white, dark green, teal, pink, maroon, orange, yellow, lime green.
Jenny Mades sits towards the front of the large section marked off for biology majors. As she waits for the day to officially begin, she thinks about her experience with Admitted Student Day at North Carolina State University last Saturday. She hopes today will help her compare the two universities.
“I’m really excited to learn about Chapel Hill and Carolina,” Mades said. “I tend to be really indecisive, so it helps to meet students and see the campus and see what the atmosphere is like.”
Mades and her mom look through the folder of admissions materials they received on their way in, looking for something that will strike some internal chord, helping Mades decide between UNC-CH and N.C. State.
Other students made the trip to the UNC-CH to affirm the decision they’ve already made.
Claire Skinner, who hopes to major in biomedical engineering, said she has loved the university since she was little.
“I just want to confirm my decision by getting a feel for the campus,” Skinner said. “But I’m already in love with it.”
‘What they could be a part of’
The day begins with energetic bursts to ensure that students arrive either instantly forming or further cultivating the love and excitement that Skinner and Mades describe.
After students have been ushered in past the enthusiastic Admissions Ambassadors, the event kicks off with a performance by members of UNC’s pep bands — the same students who perform at football and basketball games and other sporting events. Like the Admissions Ambassadors, they too are at the event to share their affection for UNC-CH. They play a mix of familiar, upbeat pop tunes and school-spirit songs.
“We start with the band to keep the energy hype and to introduce some of the traditions the band is involved in, like some of the cheers,” said Tyger Hanback, a junior at UNC-CH who is an Admissions Ambassador and a member of the athletic bands. “We really want to get people excited to be here and show them what an awesome place Carolina is.”
After the band’s performance, the Admissions Ambassadors run out with some helpers from Carolina Fever. The prospective students and their parents have the opportunity to learn some of the cheers that are integral to attending sporting events at UNC-CH, such as UNC Vamp and Carolina Spell-Out. Teaching the cheers is a way to get the students immediately immersed in the University’s culture.
“Letting the prospective students learn the cheers lets people see what they could be a part of here,” Hanback said.
A representative from Carolina Fever gets the attendees on their feet and teaches them how to hold their arms to form a U, N and C for UNC Vamp. She instructs them about the tricky speed changes — slow, then quick — and they hear a preview of the spirited tune from the band. When it’s time to try the moves with the music, the prospective students groan as their parents get a little too into the activity. But after a few tries, everyone feels looser, more confident and most of the room engages in the energetic chant.
‘Putting a face to Carolina’
The rest of the day will be filled with information sessions, lunch in Lenoir Dining Hall and tours of the campus. The prospective students will hear all the reasons they should choose to attend UNC-CH, but more importantly, they will get to interact with current undergraduate students and see some of the official information they have been given in action.
“This day is about putting a face to Carolina,” said Grace Tan, a member of the Admissions Ambassadors Executive Board. “We want them to be able to ask questions and hear this information coming from students. Most of all, I really just want them to see, ‘you could belong here.’”
Working for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has been a highlight of Tan’s time at UNC-CH. She loves to take students on tours and share her passion for Carolina, especially after a hard day.
“Being involved in Admissions really gives me perspective,” Tan said. “If I leave after a bad exam and get to take students on tours, it shows me how lucky I am to be here. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, we are so lucky just to get to be here.”
Hannah Williams, a senior member of the athletic bands, is also passionate about sharing her love for UNC-CH, which is why she volunteered to perform in the band for the event.
“This was one of my last opportunities to share my love of marching band in the Carolina family environment,” Williams said. “I want to welcome people and make it feel like home. Because it’s really been my home.”
Admitted Students Day is an opportunity for prospective students to learn why they should choose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as their home for the next four years. Even more so, though, it is a chance for current students to demonstrate how the University has worked its way into their hearts.
Edited by Rachel Jones