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Vanquishing the freshman jitters: Advice from current and past Wildcats

Starting+freshmen+year+of+college+is+accompanied+by+many+changes%2C+both+academic+and+personal.+Below%2C+current+University+of+Arizona+students+and+recent+alum+provide+their+best+advice+for+a+fantastic+first+year.
Sela Margalit
Starting freshmen year of college is accompanied by many changes, both academic and personal. Below, current University of Arizona students and recent alum provide their best advice for a fantastic first year.

Freshman year of college is often accompanied by a wide array of emotions, ranging from excitement to terror — sometimes even simultaneously. Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment can be challenging, especially when new classes and responsibilities are thrown into the mix. Below, University of Arizona students and recent alumni share their best tips for having an incredible freshman year and coping with all the changes. 

Miles Fraser is a sophomore majoring in creative writing. When it comes to starting college, he recommended being friendly with everyone to help form connections but also to understand that it is fine to rely on family and other friends outside of the UA to cope with being away from home for the first time. 

“Call your friends, call your parents, anyone; they want to talk to you,” Fraser said. “At a certain point, you’ll have friends in college that you’ll be able to have these conversations with, but until then, it’s okay to lean on people you’re comfortable with.”

Some must-visit attractions around Tucson that Fraser endorsed include hiking Mount Lemmon and Tucson’s Sentinel Peak, commonly known as “A” Mountain. A hidden gem he and his friends loved during their freshman year includes the Arizona hockey games accessible via the Sun Link streetcar. Located in the Tucson Convention Center, the first 200 CatCard holders get in free!

Lots of energy and free for students even if you don’t have the pass. Just a great time all around,” Fraser said. 

His best study tip is to take advantage of the library and all the resources and activities advertised on bulletin boards. He suggests making an effort to attend events that are interesting. Looking back at his recently completed freshman year, Fraser wishes that he had taken advantage of the club fair at the start of the semester and joined more clubs. 

“Don’t be nervous. At the University of Arizona, you have thousands of kids who are in your exact shoes, and even though it might not seem that way, it’s true,” Fraser said. “Make friends, talk to people in line in the Union, shoot your shot, don’t be shy.”

Olivia Brodersen recently graduated with a degree in molecular and cellular biology. Her top study tip is to ask all kinds of questions, no matter if they appear to be silly or dumb. She also recommends the Brightspace Pulse mobile app that is connected to D2L. Users can find due dates, check grades and set reminders with just one click. Brodersen also emphasized the importance of making connections during college. 

“If I could do it all over again, I would knock on my neighbor’s doors and get to know them. I was the academic kid but grades and friendships do matter in college,” Brodersen said. 

She also suggested finding others with similar interests to go on campus excursions and not being afraid to share favorite memories from home with new people to combat homesickness. 

A must-do free activity all freshmen need to experience that Brodersen recommended is exploring campus for hidden sculptures, such as the unicorn sculpture in the School of Dance wellness garden and the small Han Solo frozen in carbonite found in the Sonoran Pentapus structure (large dome-like covering that resembles a piece of art and provides shade) in between the Architecture building and Center for Creative Photography.  

Brodersen’s guiding words for freshmen year were, “It is okay to not be okay.”

Kiersten Scarbrough is a junior studying elementary education and Spanish. In addition to joining clubs, she proposed taking advantage of on-campus events throughout the year, especially those hosted by individual colleges. Students can learn about these activities by checking their email or through advertising around campus. Events offer another way to meet new people. 

One thing that Scarbrough utilized to make the transition to college easier that she wished she had known about sooner was the university peer mentor programs available. 

“As soon as I joined one, I felt a lot better, and the transition was much easier,” Scarbrough said. “It’s a great way to meet new people as well.”

Scarbrough’s best tip for staying on top of academics is to develop good study habits immediately. Proactively getting assignments done early helps to alleviate stress and provides more free time. She is an advocate of the 45 minutes on and 15 minutes off rule for long study sessions, spending 45 minutes being productive and then having a 15-minute break before starting work again. 

“To keep a balance between school, work and life, try out different routines and see what works best for you. For example, I knew that the only way I’d get a workout in was if  I went in the morning before class. Boundaries are also going to be really important,” Scarbrough said. 

Her best advice for freshmen year is, “Overall, just try to be nice to yourself. It is going to be tough sometimes, and that’s normal and okay. Take the time you need to adjust and do what you want to do.”

Freshman year can be a difficult time for students, but making new connections, checking out unique spots on and off campus and developing a study routine can all help make the adjustment easier. 


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