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What I Wish I Knew as a Freshman

With my last year at UT wrapped up along with many others, I have been taking the time to reflect on the things I wish I had known or done three years ago. Here are some things that I wish I knew during my first year at UT.

Tips & Tricks

Some little things to note…

  • Take advantage of being a first-year student! Classes are obviously a stressor in your life, but unfortunately, they will only get harder so take advantage of your weekends to have fun with your friends and de-stress.
  • Take advantage of the off-campus VolCard program so you can save money when eating, and learn how to do VolCard transfers so you can move excess financial aid funds before refunds go out.
  • Use the library. Often. If you’re living on campus, you are very close to the library–and I personally got so much work done there. If you ever live off-campus you won’t be as close so it’s easy to take advantage of it your first year!
  • Don’t be afraid to get involved. If you see a job opportunity or leadership position, take it if you’re interested; you have four years here and can always change your mind later.
  • Think of fun things to do outside of campus with your friends. Knoxville actually has some really cool places!
  • Get all of the free things. If you see a table on the Pedestrian Walkway giving away t-shirts, get one!
  • Stay hydrated – you don’t realize how large and hilly this campus is at first, so always have a water bottle on you.

“Enjoy every minute of your time here,” said Abby Carpenter, a graduating senior. “It goes by way faster than you think, so try to stay present and don’t rush through it.”

“The best advice I have to give is to take a deep breath,” said River Dill, another graduating senior. “The hardest part is over because you got into college; relax.”

Places to Go

Knoxville has a ton of hidden gems that many students do not know about until it’s getting to the end of their time here. If you are looking to get outdoors or experience fun new places, the list below has some of my favorites!

  • The Old City is a historic part of downtown Knoxville that has multiple fun places to go including great restaurants, shops, and parks.
  • Get to know the local parks near campus! Sequoyah Hills Park is located off of Kingston Pike about 10 minutes from campus and has acres of grass and trails right on the river. It’s also dog-friendly!
  • Check out Knoxville’s waterways. The Tennessee River, Mead’s Quarry, and Fort Dickerson all have water-based activities such as paddleboarding and kayaking.
  • For more Knoxville activities, check out

Elizabeth McCarthyElizabeth is a recent graduate from Philadelphia, PA, with a degree in public relations with a minor in business management. She served as the Student Life Communications editorial intern for the 2021-2022 school year. She has a passion for graphic design, social media and writing, and her favorite thing to do at UT was attending football games with her friends.