Today is March 6th, 2014.
I graduated in May 2013 from UConn after the typical four year path. I deliberately held off on writing this review until it felt right. I started my job mid September 2013. I wanted to write this review after my immediate graduation aura had worn off and job expectations/anxiety weren't looming, but still from a standpoint where my UConn experience was relatively fresh in my mind.
In the interest of full disclosure:
I mainly went to UConn because my parents had set aside funds for college, and since I was faced with the financial choice of having my education largely or completely subsidized versus student loans in excess of $20,000 per year, I chose to go to UConn.
I do not regret going to UConn, it was a great experience. I didn't have to go to UConn. I wasn't forced to go to UConn. Do I think I could have enjoyed myself more had I gone to a different school? Probably. Do I think that attitude is influenced by the "rose colored glasses" or "could have, have should have, would have" mentality? Probably.
I say all of this because I remember the exact feeling I had when I was reading these reviews five years ago, trying to find guidance and commentary on what would be the largest step I had ever taken in my life. The excitement, the expectations, the sense of wonder and opportunity. I think back on that time fondly, you will too. I hope that this review is helpful.
I went into college thinking that there would be an unprecedented sense of camaraderie and shared sense of personal, fresh, new endeavor. In terms of making friends and academics. After all, as much as social growth is important, so is intellectual. It was that way to a certain extent, but those feelings and intentions were masked by the ever-present sense of social image and most succinctly, posturing. I made friends, and anybody who is reasonably sociable will too, the main point is that an effort must be made to connect with others. A key piece of advice is to "say yes" and see where your college experience takes you.
UConn is not the party school it was when I was applying. "Spring Weekend" is no longer a thing. My freshman year was the last "real" one, and I am grateful I got to experience it. That said, as a new student, you will still have fun and participate and all of the early college shenanigans I did. Freshman year is the time where most people meet their college-long friends so it's important that you make the most of it.
In terms of academics, to those who achieved good scores with the attitude that standardized testing is a easy, high school GPA was achieved by recognizing expectations and meeting them in the most efficient way, "bullshitting", some call it, you will find UConn is not all that challenging. You will have "easy A" classes, where simply showing up and doing manageable work results in a good grade. You will also have a few classes where you are truly challenged, and I liked that mix. I think it was healthy. I think it was beneficial.
As for the student body, a lot of people are into the University's sports teams. Even if you aren't into sports you may find yourself involuntary but genuinely enthralled. Drinking is a big part of UConn culture, and it was for me, but there are still numerous activities that are open to, and fun for people no matter what their stance on that kind of activity is.
UConn is a great place but can feel lonely at times, which is why establishing a group of friends and meeting friends of friends so that you can find like-minded people is so important. There is no shortage of opportunities to this end. Can the student body seem cliquey from the outside? Of course. I felt it, I know it's there. Even so, I find it hard to imagine a person couldn't find their place and be happy so long as they wish to and don't expect a picturesque experience to fall into their lap.
This review will not helpful to all or perhaps even most, but those who understand my approach I hope will glean something beneficial from it. Enjoy undergrad, is my final piece of advice. It's a wonderful time.