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The summer is coming to an end and your student’s college adventure is about to start. Although college is supposed to be a fun and exciting change, some incoming freshmen may experience stress, homesickness and other hard emotions during the transition. Students who finished their 2016-2017 freshman year share their experiences and advice that will help you prepare your student for their first year of college.

Biggest Transition

For many, moving from home to college may be their first contact with independence. For the first time they will be fully responsible for their own time schedule, finances and life choices. There may be a change of scenery, habits, friends or beliefs.

Some students were new to Birmingham, such as Cati Pudner, an international studies major from Auburn, who said it was a challenge for her to adjust to not being familiar with safe and unsafe neighborhoods of the city.

“It was like I had spent years learning all these aspects of the culture in my town and then I was like a kid again with no idea what I could do, but without any guidance,” Cati said.

“A big transition was moving to a new city where I knew no one. I didn’t know what it would be like to be on my own. Independence can be scary,” said Noah Ryan, a public health major from Mobile.

Adjusting to college style courses may also be challenging for some. Not only are they harder, but also different from what a high school student is accustomed. The workload, material and teaching methods surprised quite a few incoming students, such as Anthony Roney, a history major from Fairhope, AL.

“I really had to adjust to the work load that college brought. I thought I would be prepared but college introduced me to a new level of work ethic,” Anthony said.

“Nothing in high school prepared me with dealing with tough professors,” said Zach Aplin, a communications major from Samson, AL.

As students become more independent, they also realize the responsibilities that come with independence. Money and time management were some of the main challenges these freshmen said they were faced with during their first year of freedom.

“I wish I knew how to manage my money and my dining dollars because I was careless at the beginning of the year, which made the school a struggle financially,” said Emmanuel Dean, a biomedical science major from Stone Mountain, GA.

What to bring

For some students, this may be their first time moving to live on their own. Knowing what items will come in most handy can be hard to foresee, even for experienced packers. Some items that students were happy they brought were:

  • Laundry baskets and detergent: Students will have access to washing machines and dryers in the residence halls, but supplies will have to be self-provided.
  • Vacuum cleaner, broom and cleaning supplies: There is no room service or parent to clean after the students, which means that they will be responsible for the tidiness of their personal areas. Routine room checks will occur and students may be fined if the rooms do not comply with the cleaning requirements.
  • Blankets and pillows: Although some residence halls come with manually adjustable thermostats, roommates may have different temperature preferences.
  • Coffee pot and teakettle: Although residence halls will be equipped with microwaves, students found teakettles useful for preparation of quick meals, such as Ramen noodles.
  • Griddle: Again, microwaves are provided, but freshmen will not have access to ovens. A griddle would allow the student to prepare meals such as pancakes or hamburgers.
  • Scent diffusers: Candles are not permitted inside the residence halls, however, water and oil based scent diffusers are encouraged, as students will be living closely together.
  • Hammock: The use of hammocks is popular on campus. UAB recently constructed an area exclusively for hammock use. A hammock is perfect for relaxing and taking a break while hanging out with friends.
  • Skateboard or bike: More than likely students will have to move between buildings for each class, which is why portable transportation equipment is useful.
  • Bluetooth speakers and headphones: Students will want to listen to music. Both for social or anti-social purposes.

“I’m glad I brought my ironing board and iron, because I hate walking outside wrinkle,” said James Dorsey, a physics major from Madison, AL.


“I wish I brought a bike because one of my classes was so far away,” Emmanuel Dean said.


“I am so glad I brought my instruments like my banjo and guitar,” Anthony Roney said.


“I’m glad I had pictures of my family to keep me going when times got tough,” said Jamila Zamir, a public health major from Albuquerque, NM.

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What not to bring

Not everything a student brings to their room will be used as frequently as predicted. Here are some items that freshmen advise you not to bring.

  • Shelves and other storing furniture: The residence halls already include furniture and storing space, which makes large storing items such as dressers and head boards unnecessary. Additionally, they are hard to move in and out of the residence halls.
  • Space consuming items: Similar to the previous point, students are not advised to bring anything that takes up too much space.

“I saw people trying to get couches out of their room during move-out and it’s not worth the hassle,” Noah Ryan said.

  • Too much clothing: Many freshmen complained about the overflow of clothes and shoes they brought but never ended up using. Pick out your favorite outfits and clothing you are certain you will wear.

 “Don’t bring stuff you don’t really use, unless they have sentimental value and keep you from getting homesick,” Cati Pudner said.

“I wouldn’t bring any video games. College life is distracting enough,” Anthony Roney said.

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Not recommended attitude

The first year of college is called “freshman year” for a reason. Incoming students are expected to make mistakes and stumble in the beginning. There are, however, some typical pitfalls that freshmen should look out for.

“Any unnecessary anxiety. Just get over the fact that everyone is as nervous as you are and it is completely normal,” Zach Aplin said.

“Thinking that just because you flew through high school, despite sleeping through every class, that you can do the same in college. Just like everyone tells you – that doesn’t work. Expect it to be super difficult and you’ll be much prepared. Also, don’t get all excited about the things you’ve heard like partying every night and skipping your classes. Those things happen naturally, no need to push it,” Cati Pudner said.

“Most of my friends who made attending parties their main focus tended to have lower grades,” Emmanuel Dean said.


 “Don’t be a know-it-all or bashful towards others. It really won’t get you anywhere,” Enyonam Kpomblekou-Ademawou said.


“Don’t have an attitude that you’re only going to be friends with people like you. Expand your horizons,” Fannita Leggett said.

Recommended attitude

All students will have preconceptions of what college life will bring that may affect the way they approach their experience. One thing that was recommended by most students was to start with an open and accepting mindset and a readiness to work hard.


Come with a complete opened mind because it’s not going to be your hometown for sure. UAB is urban and has a lot of cultures, so open your mind and view things from a different perspective,” said Fannita Leggett, Communications major, from Arison, AL.


Tell yourself you’ll totally dive in to your classes and be excited to learn cool stuff. It’s different than high school because you’ll be leaning stuff that you’re interested in and it’s all about your investment. But be totally open to new experiences and new people. Start as strong as you can because it’ll fiddle down during the year,” Cati Pudner said.


Definitely be optimistic and determined because a strong start is really important if you want to do well in any class,” Emmanuel Dean said.


“I would say start off the year friendly. College is where you make lifelong friends and awesome study groups,” Anthony Roney said.


“You should enter UAB with an open, positive and motivated mindset of course! You’ll definitely need it. Especially motivation during finals week,” said Enyonam Kpomblekou-Ademawou, a Pre-OT healthcare management major, from Auburn.


“A lot of new opportunities, opinions and ideas are going to hit you. You can either take the hit or explore your new college life,” Noah Ryan said.