Five Tips for Freshmen Students at the University of Tampa


Looking back at my freshmen year of college, there are many things that I wish I knew before coming here. Every year, The University of Tampa takes in more and more freshmen students. According to the school’s website, last year’s enrollment is over triple the University’s enrollment of two decades ago. It’s quite obvious, especially to those who are from up North like I am, that going to school here has more perks than negatives (I bet your other friends can’t tan by the pool between classes in November). However, of course there are always going to be a few flaws in every college; this is where my five tips come into play. After talking to various students on campus, I was able to come up with five tips that are specifically geared towards UT freshmen. That way, you can avoid the flaws in the system and have a stress-free first year of college.

Bring an umbrella and rain boots
Although this one is quite obvious if you are a Floridian, there are a lot of University of Tampa freshmen who come from other states and haven’t yet experienced a true downpour. According to wfla.com, August is the wettest month in Tampa, with an average of 7.7″ of rain falls. I, myself, definitely regret not bringing both an umbrella and rain boots my freshman year. I remember it raining so much on orientation week and one of my flip flops actually broke while I was trudging through the massive puddles on the ground. Brent McCormick, a sophomore management information systems major, had dealt with similar problems when he was a freshmen. “I didn’t realize how heavy it rained here, so I didn’t even think of packing an umbrella,” said McCormick. “If you don’t want to ruin all of your books or get drenched, I would seriously consider you get one.”

Always carry extra dollar bills with you
Due to the fact that The University of Tampa isn’t located smack dab in the middle of the city, cab rides are a must when it comes to going out to clubs, bars, etc. It is not recommended that students walk anyway, because there have been many reports about people being robbed and mugged. Therefore, your safest bet is to take a cab, especially when intoxicated. One cab ride to downtown Tampa is three dollars per person and cab drivers are usually very picky about how you pay them. Most of them don’t like to give change back, so if you are paying for just yourself, then you should use singles. Elise Edens, a sophomore history major says, “Always have extra singles on you just in case of an emergency because you never know where you will end up one night. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of scary moments my freshman year. Otherwise, be prepared to have a friend pick you up.”

Manage your Spartan dollars
Not going to lie, I’m totally guilty of spending all of my Spartan dollars within the first month of my first semester as a freshmen (mainly towards iced coffee). At The University of Tampa, there are two ways to buy food on the meal plan: meal exchange and Spartan dollars. Before you even make your first ever meal swipe, you should take some time to read the dining services section on the UT website, because it explains exactly what you can and cannot get with a meal exchange/Spartan dollars. Daniel Caballero, a senior marine biology major, admits that he regrets not learning about it beforehand, as well. “When I was a freshman, I would get sushi multiple times a week with my Spartan dollars because I didn’t think that I could get it with a meal exchange,” said Caballero. “I think I ended up running out of Spartan dollars by late September.” Caballero suggests that students should try and space out their Spartan dollars as much as possible. For instance, if you’re an iced coffee fanatic(like me), you may have to limit yourself to only having it once a week, unless you don’t mind paying out of pocket.

Go to career services if you’re unsure on what major to choose
There are plenty of freshmen out there who come in all frustrated and embarrassed because they are undecided. Although I was lucky enough to already have known what I wanted to do by that point in my life, I had a few friends who were in the exact same boat. But there is no need to fret because the staff at the Career Services at The University of Tampa are very caring and can help you decide on a major. According to Marsha Sherman, a career services counselor, students can go to Career Services and take an assessment personality quiz if they are unsure of what they would like to do. Melanie Lynch, a senior psychology major, took the quiz when she was a freshmen because she was undecided. “I came here not sure of what to do, so I tried communications, but still was unsure,” said Lynch. “After taking those tests, I was able to figure out that I wanted to major in psychology. From there, Marsha Sherman would suggest certain classes. I would definitely recommend going there because she helped me out a lot.”

Don’t get too caught up in the party scene
Although The University of Tampa isn’t considered one of the top party schools in America, we do like to party. Whether it’s a club in Ybor City or a frat party, there’s plenty to do on the weekends here. However, as much as we hate to admit it, our parents didn’t pay for our tuition so that we could have a good time. Freshmen especially tend to forget about their studies because they are free from their parents at last, and they can do whatever their sheltered souls desire to do. There are many students on campus who admit that they were guilty of this. Blair Saunders, a junior pre-med major, says, “I was partying almost every day of the week, which is why I did so poorly in my classes. I realized by my second semester of freshmen year that I still had three more years to party and focused more on my studies. I think students should limit going out to just once or twice a week.” Another student, Rob Law, a senior communications major, agrees. “I failed a class for the first time in my life my freshman year and it made me realize that I had to get my butt into gear,” he said. “I recommend that freshmen utilize the library and their advisors.”

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