The University of Arizona is a beautiful place to spend four years of your young adult life. From picturesque sunsets and unbeatable weather eight months of the year to topnotch academic resources and athletics teams that are almost always competitive, there’s a lot to fall in love with here. If you’re lucky enough to become a Wildcat, there are a few things you should know, especially as an incoming freshman. Despite the compliments listed above, Arizona is still a huge school that can seem overwhelming at first. This can make the first year a bit hectic as you’re getting your feet wet. No need to fear, however, as we give our top 20 tips for freshman at the University of Arizona!
1. Get to know Tuscon.
Tucson is an incredibly unique place to live given its climate and location, and there’s far more to it than just U of A’s campus. With an eclectic restaurant scene, awesome hiking, and deep Wild West roots, the Old Pueblo is one of the best cities to explore with your friends or family.
2. Sign up for Zona Zoo at the University of Arizona.
Arizona has a rich history with the majority of its sports programs, though, it’s easy to see basketball reigns supreme. Tailgating with friends is fun, but what is it without rooting your team to victory? Be sure to sign up for a Zona Zoo membership before your favorite athletic season starts to catch all the action.
3. Join a club at the University of Arizona.
A big part of the Arizona experience is being involved with various social and academic clubs. Whether you’re just seeing what all the fuss is about or you know this is for you, figure out what you’d like to get out of it, then do research on which ones might be the best fit.
4. Learn the layout of the campus.
U of A’s campus was arguably my favorite part about going to school there. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place to study and hang out, with the only negative being that you’ll eventually peer out a window and see green grass, bright sunshine and palm trees staring back at you. The other challenge is learning the layout. This will come over time, but make sure to note all the major buildings on campus, as you’re likely to have a class there at some point.
5. Be social with your hall mates.
It’s natural to find a couple close friends and stick with them throughout your first year, though it’s more rewarding to branch out. At first, I was a bit hesitant to approach my hall-mates, many of whom had already met, but after I did, I regretted not doing it sooner. You’ll likely not enjoy everyone’s company, however, you may also find a friend you wouldn’t have otherwise.
6. Keep an eye on your diet.
At any school, freshman year moves quickly. It can be difficult to keep up with what you’ve been eating and how often you’re working out. Staying on top of your diet and workout regiment can lead to better sleep, improved memory, increased stamina and attentiveness, healthier skin, and much more.
7. Make use of the rec center.
Piggybacking on number 6, Arizona’s rec center is one of the best in the country. This massive facility, located on E. 6th across from Arizona Stadium, has a number of different exercise machines, basketball gyms, rock climbing walls, pools, racquetball and squash courts, ping pong tables, the list goes on. Be sure to take advantage.
8. Stay in contact with your professors.
Professors love students that show they care, and it’s no different at the U of A. Emailing your professors regarding homework, meeting times, and general class information can go a long way in them knowing you by name and recognizing that you’re serious about your work.
9. Attend office hours as needed.
Another piece of advice relating to professors is to remember that office hours exist. Offer hours are non-class time sessions that can range anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours long, depending on how busy the instructor is and how many students show up. This is a great way to get clarification on an assignment or an early review of your paper.
10. Focus on your studies so you can also enjoy your free time.
Weekends create your memories at Arizona and I guarantee you’ll have a better time making those memories without constant reminders in the back of your head. Of course you may have a few lingering assignments that need to be taken care of, but addressing the most pressing ones will do wonders for your disposition during non-school related activities.
11. Look into the intramurals.
One thing I wish I’d done differently in college is waiting to try intramurals before senior year. I had an absolute blast playing soccer, which makes me wonder why I put it off for so long. Take a look at what’s in season and bring a friend. You’ll get a chance to meet new people and get a good workout from whatever you choose. You could even ask a group and start your own team; flag football anyone?
12. Plan our your time as best as possible at the University of Arizona.
Managing your time is difficult enough without worrying about your grades and social life. It’s also the single most necessary skill to grasp. With deadlines, parties, and everything in between, it’s easy to lose track. Personally, I list everything that needs attention and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. This may not work for you, but figure out your own system to organize the day.
13. Use SafeRide accordingly.
SafeRide is U of A’s ridesharing service that allow students who present their CatCard to get a free ride anywhere within their boundaries. The intention is to limit the number of unsafe driving situations students may be involved in, mainly throughout the weekend. It’s also useful when you need to hit up Safeway but have no form of transportation.
14. Try to make it work with your roommate(s).
Living with someone you’ve never met before can seem daunting at first, but know your relationship will likely improve over time. Unless one of you is intentionally trying to make the situation worse, be patient while you get to know each other. They don’t need to be your best friend necessarily, but you’ll do yourself a favor by having a good rapport with them.
15. Don’t forget to call home every so often.
As I mentioned earlier, freshman year moves fast. With so many things to juggle, it’s easy to forget you have a family that would like an update every once in a while. Let them know how you’re doing and what’s new, they’re probably more interested than you think.
16. Don’t ignore the Slink! (Sun Link)
In construction the majority of my tenure, Tucson’s Sun Link streetcars are catching on. With stops near campus, on 4th, downtown, and the Mercado district, the blue and yellow trollies can be useful when you find yourself without a ride. Rates can be found here, and they’re pretty affordable. Certainly an option when you need to get to campus or meet friends downtown.
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17. Buy groceries from time to time.
Most on-campus dorms have kitchens, with the necessary amenities for cooking full meals. The hard part is getting what’s needed before the kitchen comes in. College is a busy time, so eating out often during your first year isn’t awful, but try to get in some occasional home cooking. This way you can know what’s going in your food and end up saving some cash in the long run.
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18. Create a relationship with your R.A.
Some of us come to love our Resident Assistant’s, some of us not so much. However you feel about your R.A., you should at least try to get off on the right foot with them. I probably don’t need to tell you this but your R.A. will most likely give you favorable treatment if you’re generally polite and pleasant. Perhaps introduce yourself when you see them, anything to make the year go by smoother.
19. Research and explore different majors offered at the University of Arizona.
There are students who are set on their career paths and others who aren’t so sure. Wherever you are in this spectrum, it’s important to exercise variety. Taking classes your first year in a myriad of different subjects can lead to a better understanding of what you’re interested in learning about. This may make it easier in deciding which major to declare when the time comes.
20. And finally, BEAR DOWN at the University of Arizona!
I didn’t visit Tucson until I was already a student, so you could’ve called it a gamble. All I knew was how excited I was to get that acceptance letter, more so than the rest. Needless to say it was the best decision of my life thus far. The University of Arizona is an incredibly unique place to get an education. With world-class facilities and world-renowned faculty, the U of A is truly one of the best schools in the nation. Make friends, make memories, and leave with a legacy you’ll be proud to hand off to the next generation of Wildcats.
What are some other tips for freshmen at the University of Arizona? Comment below and share this article with friends!
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A recent graduate of The University of Arizona, Dario spends his off time writing, reading, watching movies, playing sports, scrounging for new music and hanging with his dog, Dex.