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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.

Welcome to Rocky Top! UT is the perfect place to get you ready for this big step into adulthood. Before getting here, you may be a little nervous about some things you may encounter for the first time.

Well, good news—upon arriving on campus, you’ll already knock some firsts out of the way. This could be the first time away from your parents or the first time living in a new state. Whatever your firsts may be, here are some you may experience during your first year at UT and tips for how to deal with them.

Two students laugh with arms full of home goods as they move into their residence hall

Your First College Roommate

Living with someone you don’t know that well can be scary. And for some, sharing a room at all sounds like a nightmare. You’re used to your routine alone and can’t even picture sharing space with another person. Keeping an open mind when meeting your new roommate is important. Whatever happens your first week, semester, or year here at the university, your roommate will be there to see it through. So talk to them! Plan a night to grab dinner where you can get to know each other. This can also be the time to set boundaries for your shared space.

Your First College Class

Going to your first college class sounds intimidating, but they’re not as bad as you think. In fact, college classroom environments can be a little more relaxed than what you’re used to. The workload, however, can be difficult to manage at times. Be sure to show up to class on time, pay attention, and take notes. If you’re worried about finding your class, explore campus a few days before the semester starts so you know exactly where to go when the time comes.

Students study and talk in the Student UnionYour schedule may also be a little different than what you’re used to. Though the workload can be tough, you’re able to choose how much you take on each semester. College gives you the ability to choose what time your classes are and even which classes you want to take. Professors will be there to offer help, but it’s ultimately up to you to stay on track.

Your First Bad Grade

Balancing school and your social life can be especially difficult in college. It’s important to go out and meet new people, but it’s also important to stay on top of your assignments and make good grades. One way to balance it all is to buy a planner or utilize calendaring apps on your phone. Knowing when assignments are due can give you an idea of when you have free time. You can even finish assignments before the due date to give you a few more days or nights off. Saying no if someone invites you to do something when you have a big exam or need to study is also important.

Utilizing the assignment planner through the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center can also help. With this tool, select from a literature review, a poster presentation, research using secondary resources, and a scientific report. Then choose a start and end date, depending on when you would like to finish your assignment. The assignment planner will generate daily milestones to help you schedule your workload and meet your deadlines for individual assignments.

The Division of Student Success has also created a list of Vol Success Tips with information and links to help you navigate the academic demands of college life.

Your First Game Day

A student with Power T stickers on her face

Whether you’re a football fan or not, Saturdays on Rocky Top are an unforgettable experience. Being in Neyland Stadium for the first time feels electric, with hundreds of thousands of fans screaming and wearing their brightest orange and white.

Tickets are lottery-based and home games are $20 for students. Even if you’re not that interested in football, get out of your comfort zone and try attending a game or two. You’ll be surprised how much fun they can be!

Here at UT, we’re all one big family. Whatever your needs may be, there will always be someone available to help. Soon you’ll start to feel more comfortable on campus and get the hang of being out on your own. Enjoy your first year on campus, future Vols, and all the new experiences that come with it.