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A student sits casually on the bunk bed and has a chat with her roommate. Photography by F J Gaylor Photography.

A Year of Firsts

Rocky Top played in your welcome card from the University of Tennessee. Your family and friends have congratulated you on your big step into adulthood, and you have a year of firsts to look forward to. 


By: Koeby Dixon

Welcome to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville—home of the Volunteers, Neyland Stadium, Ayres Hall, and most importantly, Smokey the Bluetick Coonhound. There are going to be many obstacles to face, as with any big life change. But we can assure you, you chose one of the best places in the country to call home! 

Meeting your roommate for the first time.  

New to some, common to others – welcome to your first-year residence hall and welcome to having a roommate. Whatever happens your first week, semester, or year here at the university, your roommate will be there to see it through. Talk to them. Get to know each other. Find out your favorite restaurant and your favorite hobby you may have in common. After all, you will be living with them for a while, so get to know them! 

Your first commute to class. 

Classes for high school are a little bit different versus classes in college. You (and the rest of the Class of 2024) have your first day of classes. Make sure to catch your breath on The Hill. Don’t show up late; it’s a bad idea. Enjoy your stroll down Ped Walkway. Get some free swag from all the campus partners. Didn’t get any today? Don’t worry – they will be there tomorrow, too. 

Your first college best friend. 

You may already have a place in your heart taken by your best friend. Hopefully, they will never go away either. However, college is a time of change and growth. You’re going to develop and be a new version of you. You’re going to meet plenty of people along the way. Some you may like, others, not so much. But always keep an open mind and a big smile. You never know who your best friend by the end of the semester may be! 

Your first Big Orange Friday.  

No matter if you are a Tennessee fan or not, you will feel the energy on Big Orange Friday and Game Day Saturday. It is a whole different world. A sea of orange and the sound of the Alma Mater are in the foreseeable future for you. Start wearing orange on Fridays this summer and share on social media using #BigOrangeFriday! 

If football is your favorite pastime, welcome to the family of 102,455 other Vols for Life. Although game day may look a little different this year due to COVID-19, there will be ways to cheer on the Tennessee Volunteers!  

Not a football fan? That’s completely okay. Tennessee is a vital role in the SEC conference, and you will be impacted by that. Stay open-minded and maybe catch a game or two! If not, rent a couple of movies from the front desk or get ahead on some school work. 

The first time you do anything at UT will make you will feel that you made a great choice for advancing your education. 

This may not be the first feeling you have on the first day or even the first month. However, as you start to get in the groove of this adulting thing, life will get a lot easier. Soon after that, you will know campus like you have lived there for a couple of years. Deciding to go to college was a huge step! We want you to know we are a family here at UT, and we are all here to help you succeed. Whatever your needs may be, there is someone to help you. After a little while, you will start to feel comfortable and start to find you. Enjoy the first time you feel as though you made a great decision coming to Big Orange Country. 

All in all, I hope you scream “Go Vols”, wear your orange and white proudly, and make Rocky Top your Home Sweet Home your first year! Welcome to the University of Tennessee, new Vols!