OPINION: Hilltopper tradition of fun and friendships, met with the sad truth

M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan Mentor, Senior Nyill Brooks, celebrates his first M.A.S.T.E.R plan with the class of 2023, before being invited on stage to shoot paint.

Gabrielle Bunton

M.A.S.T.E.R Plan, as many know, is a transitional program that many freshmen go through. The week-long program allows students to experience fun events, tour the campus and make new friends. You have the memories and the knowledge, but are the friends still there?

When looking up information about M.A.S.T.E.R Plan, the first thing promoted is ‘meet your new best friends’. In most cases, you probably won’t ever see them again. That may be due to classes, dropping out or changing schools, or just drifting apart, but the notion of meeting your new best friends seems misleading.

Don’t get me wrong, the Hilltopper tradition is a great way to help incoming freshmen move in and become comfortable with their new surroundings. When I went through M.A.S.T.E.R Plan, there was a campus tour, sessions about life on the hill, a glowing paint party and the iconic class graduation picture.

I had the fortunate fate of being within another organization and being partnered with my whole floor. Every event was filled with nothing but laughter and good times. Even when going to other events, I acted boldly and more outgoing than my usual persona.

We even took it as far as to invite others to our floor and follow each other’s social media accounts. After the events were over, we continued on throughout the campus, mingling with each other and growing closer within our group.

The con of this transition is that people will often revert immediately to what they are used to. In my case, I was with the same girls from my former organization and floor. For others it could be from your dorm, sessions or just simply who you see first.

For those who were more shy or just new all around, you didn’t stand a chance against the formulated friendships. If you didn’t act quickly, there wasn’t much hope for you to build connections with others. Many were open minded, but once again, some were just comfortable where they were.

Now going onto my sophomore year, I don’t talk to anyone from my former floor. I see some occasionally on my Snapchat story, but other than that we don’t talk anymore. 

I remember classes starting and all the good times were a faded memory. We almost never spoke and even when we did it was a simple head nod or hello.

All wasn’t bad. I still walked away with some friends due to me already knowing them, but my relationship with the others completely changed. It almost seems as if we just befriended one another due to the close proximity we were in.

We all simply just bonded over the mutual feelings we held. We’re all here with no idea where to go or who to talk to beside ourselves. Why not form some bond?

M.A.S.T.E.R Plan was helpful, but not lasting. I learned about the multitude of resources, building shortcuts, meal plans and swipes, hilltopper history and much more. It was a smooth transition for the most part.

Due to me being fresh out of high school, I accepted the false hope of being with the same group forever since I had been doing it for the majority of my school years. I was told that college is different from high school, which is true, but I was just expecting much more effort in the friend department.

My transition is nothing but a nostalgic memory of what happened before it all hit. No matter if I see them multiple times or just see their faces on a snapchat story, the bond will never be the same from when we first met during M.A.S.T.E.R Plan.

Features reporter Gabrielle Bunton can be reached at [email protected].