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Questions of a New Incoming Graduate Student

By Brandon Nickle | Graduate Assistant at The Graduate School

  You have been accepted to a Graduate program at the University of Connecticut (UConn), you filled out your intent letter, and are ready to start this newest chapter in academics. But now what? If you are from out of state or did your undergrad at a different university, coming to UConn for the first time might be a bit overwhelming.  I know that for me, (even though I live only 25 minutes away and have “visited” UConn plenty of times) I still really wasn’t sure where everything was. Needless to say, I had lots of questions, but no one to really answer them.  If you are not used to the large campus atmosphere that UConn offers this may make your first few weeks on campus even more challenging, especially when trying to navigate to those first few stops such as the book store, the place where you get your student ID, and many more.

Here is a cheat sheet list of questions and answers of some common inquiries on how to jump-start your graduate career at UConn.

Where do I get a parking pass? And which one should I get?
uconnTo the untrained eye, this question is simple, but it is actually deceivingly complex.  Due to UConn’s public orientation as well as location within the rural town/small city of Storrs-Mansfield, the only way you are going to get here for the most part is by car, or bus.  Most graduate students live off campus (95%) and therefore begs to question, where do I park?  To break it down simply, if you are a Graduate Assistant (GA, TA, or RA) you have the option (which you should definitely take) of a reduced cost “GA/TA parking permit”.  This parking permit is significantly cheaper than most of the available permits.  Parking Services is good source to find out which parking permit you should apply for as well as all the general parking rules and regulations of UConn.  Here is a useful map of what parking on campus looks like  Also be sure to order your permit as early as you can because they will sell out quickly, and parking spots are like gold.


Where do I get my Student ID?

So first off, at UConn, it’s called a Husky One Card.  It has various uses from being the key to get into buildings and dorms on campus, to holding Husky Bucks, to having your meal plan on it.  Husky Bucks can also be used at plenty of places off campus which is super convenient as well. If you are on the Mansfield-Storrs campus, simply look for the “Golden Dome Topped Building”. I know this sounds bizarre, like following the yellow brick road or something of that sort, but I promise this is a real place.  The building that I am talking about specifically is the Wilbur Cross Building, and the One Card Office is located on the second floor.

How do I register for classes?

PS&HCTThere are a few websites that you are going to get very familiar with, especially at the beginning and end of every semester.  The two major ones are StudentAdmin and HuskyCT.   StudentAdmin will be the bread and butter of how to get started at UConn.  Here you can search and register for classes, find out who your academic adviser is, pay your fee bill, as well as look at your personal records/transcripts.  HuskyCT or Blackboard Learn if you are more familiar with, is where the professors of the classes you have registered for will post their syllabi, required texts, assignments, projects, readings, etc.  Though be aware, although many professors use HuskyCT, not all of them do, but thankfully those who do not are becoming less and less each year.

As a Graduate Assistant, what are my rights?

When first starting as a GA (Graduate, Teaching, or Research Assistant), you may be wondering about the more finite details of your new venture.   I am going to assume you know the basics of what a Graduate Assistantship is, so I will not go into specific details on it, especially since each “GAship” is unique to every department.  The bulk of your questions can be answered here.  There you will find the most update information, as well as your Union Contract.  I highly  recommend reading this.  This contract will cover in detail which holidays you do not have to work as well as how many days a semester you can take off.  It also covers one of the more important topics of how much of a stipend you will receive as well as information on how to access health insurance.

Where are there some places to eat on and around campus?hungry-1024x399

I’ll be honest with you, in the time it has taken me to write this I have been craving some food.  There are plenty of places “outside” of campus that I will focus on, most of which are in reasonable walking distance.  This also will just help you to navigate through the seemingly endless array of buildings and trees that make up UConn, not so much a Yelp restaurant review.  Anyways, my suggestion would be to start at the Student Union.  At the Union there is One Plate, Two Plates which boasts an assortment of natural non-processed foods.  Or if you are in the Moo’d for something lite and refreshing you can stop by The Blue Cow for some ice cream or frozen yogurt.  There is also the recently added luxurious Downtown Storrs area adjacent to Dog Lane where you can enjoy Moe’s, Dog Lane Café, or Mooyah.  There is surprisingly a lot of great places to eat packed in that small area, so be sure to check it out.  These are just a few of the highlights that are easy to get to from most of UConn.  So needless to say, you should never go hungry, and have plenty of excuses to go out and enjoy what food options UConn has to offer.

As and ending note. I welcome you to The University of Connecticut.  I hope that this list of questions and answers helps you as much as it did for me.  Enjoy your time here, don’t get stuck in your office or lab for too long.