The University of Vermont is a treat beyond all others of its type. From rustic, colonial era academic halls to gorgeous residential halls to the fantastically modern student center, every spot of this campus is worth exploring. But the best way to get a feel for the place is to be a student there. And when you’re a freshman, you get to learn a lot of interesting things. Here’s ten that I learned during my first year of college at UVM.
1. It’s very easy to miss the shuttle if you’re not ready.
UVM’s shuttle is a convenient way to get around campus in a pinch but it is incredibly easy to miss. Download the Rider app and check it often to see when the next bus will be in your area. Be sure to be packed and ready when the nearest one is at least two stops away from you. Trust me, it might be a hassle but it’s much better than having to speed to your 8:30 am class when you miss the shuttle! Trust me on that, bad memories will be made. Speaking of which…
2. Only take an 8:30 am class when it’s absolutely necessary.
Getting up for a class this early is close to impossible some days, especially when it’s all the way on the other side of campus! Heck, even my walk to Central Campus where both of my 8:30’s were located lasted about ten minutes in the wintertime. Avoid this all together but avoiding early morning classes as much as possible.
3. Everyone hates the Wellness Environment.
Perhaps not everyone but even those that like it don’t seem to talk about it. Whether it’s the high cost, the high income of the program’s director, the contracts, “wellness plans” you’re put on after breaking the contract, the free Apple Watches… Everything about this living environment just seems to tick people off. And let’s be honest, the anti-marijuana stuff it pushes upsets more people enrolled in the program that the university would openly admit. Join it if you want to but don’t expect to hear much praise from the other students.
4. The Davis Center offers more than you’d think.
Sure there’s the two big food places, CatsPause and the Bookstore but don’t forget about Living Well which offers yoga classes, massage chairs and therapy dogs free of charge. Don’t forget about the different study spaces available too, such as the chairs near the student government offices, the Unity Lounge, the Livak Fireplace Lounge among others. And there is a surprising amount of good help you can get from the Advising Center on the first floor. So don’t forget about the Davis Center, there’re wonderful dining establishments and wonderful resources offered here. You just have to take advantage of them.
5. Academic halls make great study spots after hours.
The academic halls on campus have many interesting spots to study in, usually in or nearby major departments. For example, in Old Mill, the English department offers various couches and desks to do your work on while the Anthropology department in Williams has large benches that are good for studying as well as napping! And if you live in a dorm hall with classrooms such as L/L, then you’re in luck. You’ve got easy access to a useful study space.
6. The meal points plan is a must have.
No disrespect to the dining halls but but their buffet-style serving will spark your Freshman 15 within the first month. Add to that Sodexo’s high-carb offerings mixed with a less than decent variety of them that make the company one of the most disliked on campus. If you’re a freshman looking to eat healthier then, once you’re allowed to change you meal plan in the spring, skip the dining hall plan and go right for the points plan. You’ll still get some Sodexo stuff but the portions will be much smaller and you’ll have more things to choose from.
7. It’s really easy to overspend your meal points.
This is the plan’s big downside; if you’re not careful about your meal points, then you run the risk of running out of them. Some good tips to use are skipping or making your own breakfast, having small lunches, buying your own coffee machine (coffee on campus is pricy), saving the on-campus restaurants for special occasions and taking free food whenever you can. If you need help eating small, one of the best options you have are the cold sandwiches like the Chicken Caesar or the Egg Salad one. These are sold at the Marché, CatsPause and the Cyber Café.
8. The GMT is more useful than you’d think.
As Burlington’s head bus service, it has routes extending from Waterman to the Waterfront, from University Heights to UMall, from the UVM Medical Center to the Amtrak station and more. The GMT is, at the end of the day, the most convenient way to get down to Burlington’s City Center, South End and the nearby towns of Shelburne and Winooski. Take advantage; this service will take you far!
9. UVM will flaunt its progressive image.
Exactly how progressive the school really is depends on who you ask. Activists will point out the far more politically varied student and academic body. More apathetic students will see the school as a left-wing powerhouse. But on a day to day basis, the school is less like the Berkeley of the East and more like a typical school with an administration-supported Berkeleyan subculture. This support shows in the Program Board’s events, the diversity class requirements and the occasional unrestricted protest. You can easily skip it all if you’d like but don’t think you’re going to avoid it all completely; the school likes to make it known and you will know it by the end of your freshman year.
10. There are many fun classes available. It’s just a matter of choosing the right ones.
Everyone’s interests are different and, luckily, UVM provides many different courses to suit those tastes. Choosing the classes that sound the most interesting to you will help make Gen-Ed and even major requirements far more easy to stomach. Even the one credit electives usually have some exciting parts. Just take the PEAC courses, for example. The academic side of the school is fully open to you; it’s up to you however to decide where to take it.
And that’s the list! So how do you think your freshman year will go at UVM? What are your plans? Do any upperclassmen have tips to share? Leave your responses in the comments section down below!
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Hi! I'm Tyler and I'm a sophomore student at the University of Vermont. I'm an English major and I'm minoring in French and Linguistics. I'm particularly interested in reading, writing, philosophy and the natural world (although the Internet is somewhere I hang out often too).