For students who live in a dorm on campus, the University of Utah is more than a school — it’s home. Still, adjusting to a new place can be difficult. We’ve talked to resident advisors, current residents, housing administrators and more to find the best tips and tricks for navigating on-campus life.
1. Get involved
Another way to meet people? Go to more events.
“It’s a great way to make the most of your time at the U,” said Des Sandoval, assistant director of communications & assessment for Housing & Residential Education. “All on-campus residences are automatically a part of the Residence Hall Association and can attend events both on- and off-campus.”
If you want to influence the type of events, put on, you can run for a leadership position in RHA.
If you are living at Lassonde Studios, it’s even easier to meet people and attend events that could change your life. Josh Hadley, CEO of Hadley Designs, credits his involvement in Lassonde programs with building his confidence.
“I co-chaired the Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge business plan competition, did some work for Lassonde New Venture Development Center, and got to help Lassonde startups do market research,” he said. “Not just being surrounded by other student entrepreneurs with the same passion as me but being able to take leadership positions in these circles, really prepared me for my career journey.”
2. Explore your dorm
The residential halls and apartments at the University of Utah are a lot more than places to sleep — many have add-ons like whiteboard, televisions, coffee machines and study rooms throughout the community spaces.
Lassonde Studios has something extra special: the Neeleman Hangar. Spanning the entire first floor, it hosts resources like 3-D printers, lounge areas, the Miller Cafe, and the Make Space, where students can workshop prototypes.
There’s even an arcade machine in the mix — see if you can spot it next time you stop by.
3. Get a roommate
Housing options with roommates are recommended by Pat Jones, an associate director at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.
“All of the housing options will have community areas that offer some level of interaction,” said Barry Carta, a business major who lives at Lassonde Studios. “But the easiest way for students new to the University of Utah, and for anyone, to integrate to campus is to have a roommate. We talk with a lot of students who think they need to have a single room, but they end up loving their doubles or triples. Those people you room with can become life-long friends, so don’t dismiss that layout too quickly.”
Carta says the emphasis on community living in Lassonde Studios helped him make friends.
“Because we live in such close proximity, we’re bumping into each other all the time,” he said. “It’s a big lifestyle change, but I’m grateful for it. It’s impossible not to meet people this way.”
4. Pack light
Even if you have a single room or a pod, anticipate plenty of shared spaces.
“It’s guaranteed that your new space will be different from what you’re used to at home,” said Eden Renee, a former resident advisor at Lassonde Studios.
To avoid three blenders and an argument or two, Sandoval recommends reaching out to your roommates before packing, and then packing only the essentials.
“Talk to the people sharing your space to learn what they’re bringing to campus,” she said. “Also, wait until you move in to order any large objects. It’s always a good idea to arrive on campus, settle in, and identify what you still want or need in your space.”
If you want to ship yourself something before your move in date, your physical mailing address will be emailed to you. Then, you can send packages to your residence hall up to a week before arriving on campus.
5. Ditch your car
Something that shouldn’t make it into your suitcase? Car keys.
“Leave your car at home and opt into using the numerous free transportation options available,” Sandoval said. These options range from a shuttle that travels throughout campus to the TRAX, FrontRunner, and UTA buses, all free public transportation provided by the local governments.
Even if you’re planning on heading off-campus often public transportation is sufficient, Jones said.
“You definitely don’t need a car on campus,” he said. “Though many students come to our university for the outdoors lifestyle, you can get around to hikes and trails on the train and buses.”
If you must bring a car to the University of Utah, purchase a parking pass through Commuter Services.
“We cannot guarantee that parking will be available immediately adjacent to your residence hall building,” Sandoval said. “Keep that in mind.”
6. Download some apps
If you’re not great with directions, the University of Utah has ample resources to help you navigate campus with or without a car. For example, if you have late night classes or meetings, SafeRide’s got you covered.
“The U offers unique services like SafeRide, operated through Commuter Services, to transport students [across campus] from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.,” Sandoval said.
Any member of the university community can request to be picked up by SafeRide from anywhere on campus, Monday through Friday.
If you’re fine on foot, there’s an app for that, too. You can find your next class or place to eat using the University of Utah Campus map. Toggle the “Construction” button to highlight places on campus that might slow you down and explore the “Accessibility & Safety” tab to see what routes should be avoided.
7. Check Your UMail
“Your UMail is how you get communications about housing, deadlines, even your reservation time,” Jones said. “It’s so important for students to check it, if not daily, at least every other day — it’ll simplify things on the institution side and for you as a student.”
Aside from the invaluable information, Jones says you’ll be developing a habit that will serve you for years to come.
“You’re going to need to get used to checking your email as you enter the workforce,” he said. “It’s an easy thing to ignore, but it’s going to save you a headache in the future.”
8. Use your Flex dollars and transfer meals
“One mistake that students make while living on campus is not making the most out of their meal plan,” Sandoval said.
While most first-year students are required to sign up for a meal plan, Sandoval says few students use it up.
“I recommend students pay attention to the full perks each meal plan option provides and determine which one fits their needs the best,” she said. “Most meal plan options allow students to access a variety of dining locations across campus via transfer meals or flex dollars in addition to their meal swipes.”
Carta uses his at Miller Cafe, an eatery on the first floor of the building.
“They have all kinds of meal options there,” he said. “You can get breakfast, lunch and dinner there if you want, all on your way out the door. No trek up campus necessary.”
Learn more about living on-campus at Lassonde Studios here.