As UVA Orientation starts up this July, incoming first years are probably nervously wondering what college will be like and how they’ll get by without their family and friends. Every college is different and comes with a various set of unspoken rules and traditions that you learn as you become adjusted to your university. To make it a little easier during your first year at UVA, here’s a list of mistakes that most first years make so that you can hopefully avoid them!
1. You say “Freshman” rather than “First Year”
As you meet a ton of people in your first year at UVA, professors and other students will inevitably ask you what year you are and you will start to sputter out that hated phrase at UVA, “I’m a…freshman.” Thomas Jefferson believed that a person’s days as a student never ended, which is why students are referred to by their years rather than the normal designations of freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. UVA students are big on tradition, so you’re not a freshman, you’re a first year.
2. You call UVA a “campus” rather than “grounds”
Thomas Jefferson designed the University of Virginia’s famous lawn structure and Rotunda building and the University was one of his greatest achievements. It’s only fair that this historic land is termed something other than a campus. As a first year, don’t make mistake of saying you live on campus – you actually live on grounds.
3. You’ll refuse to use the bus system
If you’re placed in the Gooch and Dillard dorms, you’re conveniently close to the football stadium and unfortunately not close to anything else. Don’t be the first year that swears they’re going to walk everywhere because you will be late to class. The UTS bus system is free for UVA students, has an easy app and will help you get to your morning class without breaking a sweat.
4. That 9 a.m. Friday class will come back to bite you
Thursday nights are some of the biggest party nights at UVA. If you’re out until 3 a.m. dancing at Trinity and grabbing a late-night slice of pizza at Christian’s, that 9 a.m. class the next morning will not be looking good. Save yourself the hangover by avoiding early classes on Friday.
5. You will frequent the dining halls rather than using your meal exchanges and plus dollars
Trust me, meals at OHill and Runk will get old fast. Many first years make the mistake of not taking advantage of the plethora of meal exchanges and plus dollars that you’re given on your meal plan. Instead of eating questionable meat for dinner, use a meal exchange swipe for a Five Guys’ burger. You won’t regret it.
6. You’ll plan classes that are impossible to get to in 10-15 minutes
UVA’s grounds are rather expansive with around 2,000 acres housing dorms, academic buildings and research facilities. When you’re planning your classes as a first year look at a map to see where the section is located. If you think you can walk from the chemistry building to the nursing school in ten minutes, then I’m sorry to tell you that you will never make it.
7. SIS will delete a class when you’re trying to switch discussions
You know those SIS tutorial videos that your mom begged you to watch over the summer? It turns out they come in handy when you try to register for classes alone for the first time and realize you have no idea what you’re doing. Every student at UVA knows SIS is a terrible system and one wrong click might mean you won’t get into that Commerce prerequisite that you need. Watch the tutorials and you might just get all the classes you want.
8. Trying to get into The Virginian when you’re rolling bars
Many of the bars at UVA are pretty flexible on the age limit of the students going to them, but The Virginian is strictly a 21 and over bar. You’re better off dancing to the live band at Coupes anyway.
9. You’ll get caught drinking in dorms at least once
Pregaming in your dorm before heading out to frats and bars is a typical part of first year and especially first semester. Most RAs aren’t too nosy about what you’re doing in your room on the weekends, but if the music is turned up a little too loud you’ll probably be written up by someone for drinking. It happens to most first years, but try not to let it happen too many times.
10. That laundry will stay in the washer for too long
Going to college probably means this is the first time in your life that you’ve had to do laundry by yourself. There are many dorms at UVA that don’t have laundry facilities, so you have to trek over to a neighboring dorm to wash all your clothes. Limited access to washers and dryers means that you should pay attention to when your laundry will be done. Otherwise you might find your sopping wet clothes on top of the washer or on the floor.
11. Your friends will convince you to streak the Lawn in the first few weeks of school
Ah streaking the Lawn, an age-old tradition of stripping off all your clothes and running around the Lawn in the dead of night before wishing Mr. Jefferson a very good night. Most first years are eager to complete this tradition, but in the first few weeks of the semester the Lawnies (students living on the Lawn) will shine flashlights on your naked body. Save yourself the embarrassment and streak another time.
12. You’ll spend way too much time in your dorm instead of exploring Cville
Starting college and moving away from your family and friends is a big adjustment and can be overwhelming at times. My biggest piece of advice is to not spend all of your down time binge-watching Netflix in your dorm room. Charlottesville and UVA have so many fun activities and places to explore, so go out of your comfort zone and go to the farmer’s market, see an improv show or hike Humpback. Welcome to the best four years!