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Largest freshman class reflects on first year away from home

By Miles Halpine and David Weigand
On May 8, 2014

The University of Connecticut class of 2017 consisted of more than 3,700 students, the biggest class size ever with a 27 percent minority population-the largest on record.
For a few of them, it was an experience unlike any before.
David Mathis, an electrical engineering major, said "I definitely loved my freshman year at UConn. I wouldn't give it up for anything...most kids are told [to] get involved right off the bat and I think that's one of the reasons why. I kept myself busy."
Mathis said that scheduling and classes were challenging, as well as time management.
"I think the most surprising things were-I went to a high school where they kind of taught us how to budget our time in terms of work-but I think the most surprising thing was just initially living on your own," Mathis said. "I think it's a really big change and you have to learn to really take care of yourself. If you get sick, you can't just stay at home....being on your own for the first time and doing a lot [was the biggest difference]."
Mathis also said that the workload was manageable, but challenging at first.
"The transition from high school to college, college you know when it's going to be due. It's just a lot more to do but you have a due date so it's just learning how to budget your time and do a little, I guess, every few days," Mathis said.
Andrea Hellwig, an English major, said going from high school to college "was a big change. [There is] not as much school work but just the environment" is what made the transition such an experience.
Sri Perumalla, an actuarial science major, said that her expectations of her first year were completely different.
"I like it. It's a lot different than I expected it to be. Coming out of high school, it's like a different atmosphere," Perumalla said.
Perumulla lived in a learning community and said the easiest part in transitioning was making friends.
"[The learning community] kind of eliminated that whole factor of having to make friends. I was kind of just told to make friends," Permulla said.
She said the hardest part was getting used to her class schedule and time management.
Dan Seltzer, biology major from Cheshire, Conn said that his freshman year benefited from his involvement in Global House.
"Global House was amazing," Seltzer said.
Seltzer said that the "first semester was a bit of a challenge," but "once you know what to do, it gets a lot easier."
The learning community links students with global interests with international and exchange students.
Kevin Hendara said that freshman year was "not as difficult as [he'd] been warned," and that the best part for him was the "experience living in a different style than at home."
"It's good to know you can handle yourself," Hendara said.
Saman Azimi, a finance major who grew up in Storrs, Conn., is a part of the Honors program, but his involvement with UConn is a family affair. His father is a professor here at UConn and he comes from an "academically involved" family.
Saman is the current president of ConnPIRG, a student-led organization that seeks to advocate public interests. He says his year's been "a lot of fun" and that he's "met a lot of like-minded people" in his activities. He said that what stuck out to him was the group's environmental work, a part of what the organization is all about.

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