Tips for Incoming UConn Freshman

Welcome to the land of the Huskies! You’ve made it, and you are about to embark on the next four exciting years of your life.

College can be overwhelming, but it is such an amazing experience. Try to make the most of it because these will be the years you remember for the rest of your life. You are also paying a good amount of mula for these next few years, so being smart about what you do is essential. So, you are probably wondering a bunch of things; “What will it be like?”, “Can I survive?”, “How will I adapt to the college life?” and so forth. Well, here are some tips on what to do and what to expect so you can calm your nerves about the big transition coming your way. Here is the ultimate incoming Freshman guide to UConn. You are welcome.

Tip 1: No lanyards

I suppose the last time lanyards were actually used by college kids was maybe more than ten years ago. I think all incoming Freshman see them being sold and think it’s a thing, after all you will now have a snazzy college ID you will have to carry around everywhere for access to your dorms and meal plan. It is best to have a wristlet for your dorm keys and to keep them in your backpack or jacket pocket, and for your ID the most convenient thing is to purchase one of those wallet slips that stick on the back of your phone. After all, you never lose your phone, right? Well rest assured, as long as you keep your phone on you your ID will always be safe and easily accessible. If you do get a lanyard, it is fine as long as you do not actually wear it across your neck. You will be sure to stick out as someone new to campus and your Freshman status will be known to everyone you meet.

 

Tip 2: Do not set high expectations

You probably have watched a ton of movies and shows by now that have painted a certain picture of what college will be like. Whether you grew up watching Gilmore Girls or Blue Mountain State, you can erase your perspective of what college will be like because it will be nothing like you expect it to be. Think you and your roommate will become life-long best friends? Don’t expect it. Think your roommate will be the worst person in the world? Also a slim possibility. Think everyone is super cool, mature and grown out of their high school ways? Ha keep dreaming. Think that as long as you put in the effort you can get perfect grades? Not always the case. Think you will be really productive in the morning and be able to make an 8AM class? You will probably rethink that one mid-semester. Think parties will be happening all weekend and you will just come across them without having a direct invite? Sadly, not at UConn. Think you will be living in the best dorms ever as a Freshman? You will not even get a choice and can easily end up in the Jungle. A big piece of advice is to only expect the unexpected. If you set high expectations for what your college years will be like, you may not only be let down, but you also may miss out on other unimaginable opportunities that come your way. So just enjoy the ride as it comes and do not think about it too much in terms of what college should be like.

 

Tip 3: The wind is real

Before coming to UConn, I heard it was the wind tunnels of hell. I thought people were being overdramatic, how bad could the wind be anyway? Well, it can literally be the wind tunnels of hell. Even in nice warm weather you can be frolicking down the pathway enjoying the beautiful campus only to have a gust of wind sneak up from you and bombard you with debris, and ruin a perfect hair day all at the same time. Never mind when it gets cold out, and the wind chill is below negative degrees and you think, “this is it; this is how I die” as you drag against the wind trying to make it to class. And a mix of rain on a windy day is the worst. Invest in two good durable umbrellas, because the wind will claim at least one of them by the end of your first semester, and you will need a backup. Rumor has it that the wind tunnels are so bad because the school’s layout was modeled after a campus in a hot dry state that needed a lot of wind, I believe I heard Arizona. Who knows if this is true or not, but if wind is any evidence then this theory is well-supported.

 

Tip 4: Look at the dining hall menus using the app

The “myUConn” app’s best feature is that you can see the dining hall’s menus for up to a week’s time. You can seek out your favorites or even make yourself a meal plan ahead of time. Most people’s favorite dining halls are South, McMahon, and Northwest - in that order. Putnam has smoothies daily, and Whitney is known for super fresh food and good salads. North is just terrible, and Gelfenbien is up the hill near Towers and features pretty good food along with Halal and Kosher options. Beware of dining hall hours, most of them close around 7PM and only a few are open for late night until 10PM, but after 7 the options dwindle down. So, plan ahead and look at the menu. Also, note there are always things not listed on the menu such as your basic sandwich stations, grill items and pizza. A few of the locations have separate grab-and-go areas where you can get a sandwich or wrap made for take-out. Otherwise, the only things allowed to leave the regular dining hall is a piece of fruit or dessert. But who says you can’t sneak out other food if you are crafty.

 

Tip 5: Do not wear open-toed shoes to Nickel Night

Nickle night is this magical time of the week where a bunch of kid’s flock to Huskies to pay only 25 cents for drinks. You need to have a group of friends with you to get the deal since they are 25 cents when getting four drinks at once. Especially during the nickel nights where people are getting wild, you will not want to wear flipflops unless you enjoy standing in full puddles wondering whether if you get drunk enough so the stickiness will go away. It won’t. Another tip, go to the bathroom and make friends, drunk people in bathrooms always begin an inseparable bond for semesters to come. And you do need an ID to get into the bar, but for some reason a lot of Freshman at UConn are still there, which makes no sense. Fake IDs are not recommended.

 

Tip 6: Take memorable photos

It is easy to think you will get all your photo opportunities in, and then suddenly you are a senior rushing to take all those memorable photos in one week because you only have basic photos of you and your friends at parties. Do not make that mistake. Make a bucket list and include the photos you want to take. Get one in front of Jonathon the Husky, a gorgeous sunrise on Horsebarn Hill, the sunset from your dorm on Hilltop and all the other awesome places there are to take photos. You will want those memories once college is behind you, so don’t delay getting them in!

 

Tip 7: C’s might get you a degree but not necessarily a job

What a terrible yet catchy saying kids use to try an excuse their lack of ambition. If you try incredibly hard and get a bad grade, it is not the end of the world. But always strive to get A’s and do the best possible, not just the minimum to get by. Your GPA does matter, especially later if you by chance want to get into Grad school or even just the School of Business or Pharmacy or what not. Try to leave as many doors of opportunities open for you just in case, and one way of doing that is really striving to do great in school. It can open scholarship opportunities and a bunch of other things. You also are paying a lot of money to be here, and not just for the piece of paper at the end. Now is when you have time to actually learn and gather resources to use later on in your career. Once you start a full-time job you will feel like you never have time to learn anything other than your basic job. Be a well-rounded person and acquire as much knowledge as you can while you have time. Take good notes and do not throw them away after the semester is over. Care about your school work and seek to increase your knowledge and not be a sad waste of space on this Earth like so many people choose to be.

 

Tip 8: Ratemyprofessor is your friend

Ratemyprofessor is a wonderful website that you should look to as a resource before registering for classes. But, beware some kids are just salty that they didn’t get a good grade and it is not necessarily that the teacher is horrible, even though a reviewer may claim they are. Unless the teacher has a lot of negative reviews, I would take any negative single comments with a grain of salt. It is a really helpful tool in seeing if you will vibe with the teacher or like the layout of the class.

 

Tip 9: Actually glance at the Daily Digest

The Daily Digest is sent to students’ emails daily and post any events or fundraisers going on. It can be easy to get into the habit of deleting them as soon as they show up in your email box, but actually take a minute to quickly look over it. Not only are fun upcoming events listed, but even job opportunities on campus, scholarship opportunities, free certificate programs, and much more. Also, fun fundraisers happen, like a few times a year there will be bubble tea, pho, and a bunch of goodies being sold on campus for a good cause. Sometimes there is late night delivery of yummy snacks like edible cookie dough or brownies. Sometimes there is a free show going on in Jorgeson. It is always worth the time to check it out!

 

Tip 10: Wait to buy books

It has been one of the countless sad stories of students that have walked the school before you. You purchase all your books for a whooping total of $700, feeling prideful that you are on top of your shit as a new student. Only to find that you go to class and the teacher snarkingly laughs at you and informs you the old edition which costs $20 online would have been sufficient. Or worse, no book is needed and will never be opened even once throughout the semester. Go to class before ordering your books, check to see if you need an online access code for any assignments. And whatever you do, do not buy from the school’s bookstore unless you need to. There are so many websites to purchase books for cheap. Also, consider renting any textbooks on Amazon that you do not want to keep for your future career. However, any subject pertaining to your interest or that may be useful in your future you should purchase and keep.

 

Tip 11: Get the cheapest meal plan

Unless financial aid will cover the more expensive plan, the points even out to just spending your own cash, so there is no reason in getting points unless slapping it on your tuition bill gets it paid for by someone else other than you. The custom plan is the cheapest option you can get, totaling $5,544.00 for a year. The plan above with points totals $5,846.00 a year (Note, all plans come with unlimited swipes into dining halls, they are only different in terms of points and flex passes). The cheaper option saves you $302. So, what are you missing out on from saving $302 you ask? 200 points. 1 point is equivalent to $1. The only benefit is that while using points you will not be taxed. So, where’s the deal? Nowhere, unless someone is paying for your school and you can sneak in points and go to the student union to buy stuff without a care in the world. Flex passes are what will scan your visitors into the dining hall, or let you take meals to-go at the few grab-and-go on campus. Also note the following about points; “Points can only be spent at UConn Dining Services-operated food locations. That means you cannot use Points to buy food at Dunkin Donuts and Subway in the Student Union because these restaurants are not run by Dining Services. Points that are not used at the close of each semester expire.” Wow what a great deal! Not. Also, points are not the same as Husky Bucks. Husky Bucks can also be put on your ID but used at places like restaurants in Storrs Center or to print out papers at the library (no that is not free). Husky Bucks will not expire until you graduate. They are not offered with any meal plan; you have to just add them to your ID card yourself either online or at a Kiosk. See how to make a Husky Bucks deposit HERE.

 

Tip 12: Wear shower shoes

DO NOT go barefoot in the bathroom or showers. This ain't your house and people have nasty stuff you don't want to catch. Enough said.

 

Tip 13: Bring a lot of lights and decorations to make your dorm feel like home

But also, on the other hand, a lot of people overpack. There is no need to overpack and have a crowed sad dorm. You will bring a bunch of things you will never end up using. Stick to the essentials and plan your decorations out instead of going crazy. Also, Bed Bath and Beyond does a college shopping summer program. They have amazing dorm specials, and then you can also sign up for their college program and save even more. I got the BIGGEST FLUFFIEST beautiful white pillow for only $10, a pillow I had seen being sold at other places for $60. It is magical. Go check them out during the Summer and especially August for the best deals. Another tip is to start looking for decorations early. This is how you can find great deals and keep on a budget. I was able to find LED color changing rope lights, a remote included for all different colored options, for only $20 at Costco. And I found regular one-color rope light that looked new at a yard sale. You can now say my dorm is pretty lit.

 

Tip 14: Get involved

Go to the involvement fair at the beginning of the semester and write down your email for a bunch of clubs you may be interested in. Go to the first club meetings and see which ones you want to stick to and drop the ones you don’t want to be apart of. There is no rule against going to a meeting and deciding you don’t want to continue with it. So just go to a bunch and see what people you vibe with most and what club activities appeal to you. There’s so many clubs, you will definitely be able to find at least one that interests you! You most likely will have to give up a few you would love because there is so many to choose from. Getting involved also is an easy way to meet people and make friends!

 

Tip 15: Be smart with your partying

If you do not like partying, do not fret. Not everyone in college drinks or likes to party in ridiculous ways, you can easily find people with other interests. If you do however plan to drink and party a lot, be smart about it. Always go with a group of friends and never leave alone. There are some terrible people out there, and it is a good idea to use common sense to protect yourself from being in a position in which someone can target you or even in a position where you pass out in a trail walking home during winter and almost die in freezing weather. You should honestly never get that drunk where that can happen, know your tolerance limit and prep before a night full of drinking; eat prior to drinking and limit yourself to a certain number of drinks per hour. If you are a fun person you can have a good time at a party without being wasted and stumbling on yourself.

 

Tip 16: Make friends

It is essential to try to make friends early, as it gets much harder as the semester goes on. Leave your dorm door open the first week of class, offer to help people carry things to their dorm during move in, knock on doors in the hall and see if people want to make a GroupMe or snap group or get food together and what not. Reach out! If someone doesn’t like you, they will not reciprocate asking you to do anything, and you can get the hint and not bother with them. It is always worth a try and you can make some amazing friends along the way. You may also want to consider joining a learning community to make friends, as you will live with the community and be able to meet people easier. Clubs are also a must if you are looking to socialize.

 

Tip 17: Don't be an asshole like everyone else and walk into the road without looking

Be respectful and do not act like the most privileged college kid in existence. The world does not revolve around you walking to class. And if a car graciously stops to let you walk across, walk at a normal pace instead and that cringeworthy slow “I’m so cool and chill” snail pace that makes you look like the biggest douche in existence. You do not look cool, you look self-centered and dumb. Trust me. And if there’s a constant stream of people crossing and you notice a long line of cars waiting, if you are not part of the major group stop for a few seconds to let a car go so they aren't sitting there for forever. It is really common sense; I do not know how so many dumb people got into college without this basic knowledge.

 

Tip 18: Make a planner

Soon you will be bombarded with important projects, assignments, social events, and tests- it can get overwhelming fast. Get a wall calendar or a planner to keep track of your life. When you get your syllabus mark down all important dates. Treat your planner as a lifeline, and an organizational tool to help you succeed. There are also mobile apps that will allow you to input your schedule which can be really useful.

 

Tip 19: Walk everywhere

Because you should be grateful you can even walk, one day you will be old with a bad hip limping through the grocery store wishing you could go for a morning jog. Never mind it will help you from gaining that inevitable freshman 15. But if you really despise walking then there are buses that are free. You can download the UConn bus app to track the buses in real time, although they are somehow always off with times even with the “new and improved” app, so don’t be disappointed if you miss the one you were planning to get on. Just walk. It is also fun to walk around exploring all the nooks of the campus.

 

Tip 20: Find your favorite study spots

The library is so basic. A bunch of buildings have better, more secluded places to stake out in for day or night of studying. It is easy to snag a whole lecture classroom for yourself and chill. Even once the buildings close many people stay in the classrooms, and the janitors will come by and not care. Just if you do this make sure you do not leave and get locked out with all your stuff still inside. There are a lot of cute little nooks or study lounges in most of the buildings also. Explore and find your favorites. Especially during finals week when you need peace and quite you will be very thankful that you know of other options than the library or the U.

 

Tip 21: Know the school’s resources

You will be paying a bunch of money for student services, so it is good to know what they are so you can take advantage of them. UConn has a newspaper that you can find around campus free of charge (The Daily Campus), and you can even write for them if you feel like it. UConn also has its own radio station and broadcasting channel. More about the Radio station WHUS can be found HERE. There is also a website that lists different events going on so you can find fun stuff, it is called UConntact which can be found HERE. You can get free food, free pet therapy, free STD tests, free wellness checks- a bunch of free resources if you just look. There are also professional services available for free. One of them being getting your taxes done for free by the UConn accounting department, google UConn Vita for more information about this and to set an appointment. There are also different tutoring centers or writing centers to help you out with your academics. And there are the career centers which will help you put together a bomb resume or prepare for an interview. There are countless resources available to you as a student so look out for them and get your money’s worth!

 

Tip 22: Go to class and do your work

Actually try not to skip classes, even though a lot of people do. Also go to the review sessions for exams since they usually give hints to actual test questions and are worth dropping by even if you are comfortable in the class and not struggling. Don’t be lazy, go to class! Also just do your work and don’t leave everything piling up or study the last minute. Take 15 minutes per night to glance over your notes for each class and you will retain stuff in your memory a lot easier than cramming, and it might actually go into long-term memory too in an effortless way. Do it.

 

Tip 23: Get the right weather accessories

We live in New England and our weather is bi-polar. You will be walking outside for longer than you are used to walking directly to the car in your driveway at home. Plan ahead and grab all the necessary weather accessories. For winter plan to get a really good winter jacket, snow boots, gloves and a scarf. You do not want to be miserable walking for fifteen minutes in the cold. Have a good backpack that is not just one of those cute cheap ones that will end up giving you back problems after a month. Have sunglasses for the sunny days or a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. And have a durable umbrella available for those rainy days and rain boots so you are not sitting through your classes soaked.

 

Tip 24: Download some useful apps

There’s a bunch of great apps to download. One is Venmo, which will be great for paying club dues or a friend back after borrowing money. GroupMe is great for group projects or to talk with some people you’ve just met on campus. Headspace will keep you meditating when you hit stressful parts of the semester. Duolingo will keep you refreshed on your second language skills. There is also websites that will be a godsend for certain classes. Wolfram Alpha helped get me through Calculus and other math classes. Khan academy has saved my life in easily learning any subject out there; particularly math and economics. If you join a sorority or club, you may get free access to sites like Chegg to get answers on your homework. Quizlet also has flashcards made by other students that can be very helpful. Know your tools and use them well. Accessing the numerous resources available to you is a no brainer.

 

Tip 25: Remember you are fabulous, and you can be who you want to be

Remember this “If you don’t brand yourself, someone else will”. Enough said. Remember you are a brilliant, unique, fierce creature. Never get knocked down by others. Or if you are knocked down, pick yourself up with a Beyoncé-like shimmy just like the boss lady you are. You got this.