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What High School Musical taught us about college

College in HSM lights

Macy Jordahl
March 13, 2017

On January 20, 2006, Disney Channel debuted the first of the High School musical trilogy. By using the power of compelling characters, sports, dance numbers and catchy songs, the students at East High showed kids the importance of breaking out of their shells and following their passions.

Now, 11 years later, those of us in the generation that grew up with High School Musical are realizing that these songs have even more meaning than we thought.

(Start) "Breaking Free"

We’re running, climbing, to get to that place to be all that we can be. Now’s the time, so we’re breaking free.

Whether you're breaking away from your hometown or breaking out of your shell to become the person you want to be, the transition to college is a time of change. Don’t feel pressured to stay in the same routines or limit yourself to what you were known for in high school. Branching out can lead you to new friends, a new passion or a potential major. Here at UNC, you can break free from your old normal as you expand your interests (there are tons of ways to get involved!) and who you are as a person.  

(Don't) "Stick to the Status Quo" 

No, no, no, stick to the stuff you know. . .Stick to the status quo.

During this time in your life, be it before or during college, it can be easy to feel pressured to follow other’s plans and ideas for you and your future. Your teachers may be pressuring you to choose a specific major or your parents may pressure you to choose a specific school. It's often wise to listen to the opinions and reasoning of those who know you best, but ultimately this is your time to choose — not theirs.

Whether you’re like Troy Bolton, torn between basketball and music, or you’re like me, torn between teaching and visual arts, remember there often seems as if there is one practical option and one impractical option, but that’s not necessarily the case. All of your interests can be important, whether they stick to the status quo or not. (Bonus points if you can craft a career out of multiple interests!)

(Find) "What I've Been Looking For"          

I’ve never had someone as good for me as you, no one like you. So lonely before, I finally found what I’ve been looking for.

For those of you about to graduate, now might be a time in which you feel confused. You're choosing a university, a major and a path for your future. But maybe you aren’t sure what the right fit is for you in terms of any of these decisions. That’s OK — and I'm speaking from experience. I've found that the best way to find your answers is to pursue that “Start of Something New." Pretty soon, you will find your perfect fit. Whether it’s your school, your major, or your new group of friends, you (along with Sharpay and Ryan) will soon find what you’ve been looking for.

So whether you’re Troy Bolton, an athlete faced with a decision between sports and music, or you're Gabriella Montez, a valedictorian-type who’s being pressured to forget about passions for the sake of academics, remember that the transition between high school and college is your start of something new.

Macy Jordahl

is a first-year UNC student majoring in Special Education. She's part of Best Buddies, the Student Council for Exceptional Children, and residence hall life. If you ever need a portrait drawn, she can do that, too!