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Vols Speak Blog

The Family Ambassadors have been hard at work preparing blog posts about their experience as students at the University of Tennessee. Each month, the Family Ambassadors will add their post. We hope that you will find this as a resource to gain insight into other students’ experiences as well as discover opportunities to pass along to your student.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at and we can put you in contact with the Family Ambassador.

March 2016 Blog Posts

Off-Campus Living
by Sophia Rubio

Deciding to live-off campus is a big decision to make with your student. A lot of questions come to mind. Where do I start? Who will I live with? How much will it cost? As a student that currently lives off-campus, I can give you my perspective about off-campus living.

When making the decision to live off-campus, there are several things to think about. Living on-campus has many perks: a short walk to class, free laundry, and it is easier to get involved with campus events and organizations. On the other hand, when living off-campus students can find roommates, live within walking or driving distance, and find a monthly payment that works for them. Apartments do vary in cost when looking off campus, because your student must consider paying electric, water, internet, and rent every month.

The closest neighborhood to campus is Fort Sanders. Living in Fort Sanders, commonly known as “The Fort” by students, is great because I am able to get in my steps before I even get to campus. I also work, so having the opportunity to pay monthly works very well for me. Most of my neighbors are UT students as well. However, there are no quiet hours like there are on campus, which can sometimes be tough when I have an exam the next day.

There is also a new resource the University has created where students can input how much they are willing to pay per month, as well as how many bedrooms and bathrooms they would want, and the database provides results that fit those parameters. It is a super helpful tool that can be found at!

It can be a tough decision to make to live off-campus; there are pros and cons. The best way to make a collective decision is to have an open dialogue with your student about what fits best for them.

First-Year Council
by Elisabeth Logan

Do you have an underclassman student that wants to be informed and make changes on our campus? I encourage them to consider becoming a part of the Student Government Association! Whether they are a freshman or sophomore, SGA is always looking to recruit new members to serve in its various branches, including student services, which organizes events and programming, or student senate, which writes and approves legislation that goes to the desks of administrators.

After serving as an orientation leader for the past two years, I have definitely been amazed by the ability of underclassmen, and particularly First Year students, to make a change on our campus, but they do not always know how. While we hope that these students will become a part of SGA in the future, they already have many opportunities to have their voice heard. Each student is assigned certain senators for both their college and where they live, be it on or off campus, and they can locate this senator via the myUTK system. First Year Students also have a great opportunity to reach out to their group of specific representatives – the First Year Council.

While selection for FYC occurred at the beginning of the fall semester, this group is a great resource for any First Year Student, or any student hoping to better the First Year experience. This year I have had the opportunity to serve as the advisor for the First Year Council, and I can confidently say that they are a passionate group that would love to hear any student’s concerns. If you are the parent or family member of one of the students currently on First Year Council, thank you. You have raised competent, eloquent, and amazing young adults who continue to work hard to better the experience for all of the First Year Students that will come after them. One of my favorite things about this groups is that they focus on what changes they can make for the future of the University of Tennessee, and they have been selfless in this regard. Some of the issues which they are tackling revolve around advising at orientation, diversity education in residence halls, and enhanced programming for students to have their voices heard on our campus.

If your student has ever had a concern and wanted to make a difference, I highly encourage them to take a look at the Student Government Association! FYC is only one of the many channels to go through to have their voice heard, and there are still many ways to get involved within the organization. Encourage your student to visit our website, where we have a convenient suggestion box, and follow us on social media!

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