I recently took a trip to Tucson, Arizona, to visit the University of Arizona . The visit to U of A was to gain more information about this large university. More and more of my students are heading out of state and attending large universities similar to University of Arizona.
When I stepped off the plane, I was grateful that the weather was a seasonably warmer 91 degrees. It felt good after coming from Washington, D.C., where there was snow in the forecast.
I headed straight to the campus area of Tucson, stopping at a local burger joint one block from campus. You could tell that there were college students working and eating there as well as locals. The people were nice and greeted you and allowed you to take your time to order. If you had any questions about the menu they were help to help. I sat down and enjoyed my meal and it was nice that whenever I looked up, I was greeted with a smile from college students or families.

After my meal, I decided to park my car and proceed to campus an hour before the start of the information session and campus tour. The parking attendant was very nice and offered me multiple ways to get to University Drive, which is the main drag for students at University of Arizona. I took the short cut he gave me and when I came out on the street, I was met by an awesome and welcoming feeling of college students enjoying the sun.
I was pleasantly startled to see my favorite smoothie place Jamba Juice. I thought that was a chain only on the east coast. I went in and order a smoothie, and, like the burger joint and parking lot, the staff were so nice and accommodating.
I took my smoothie and sat on the lawn, which was well-manicured. The sun truly does something to someone’s soul and I enjoyed the shared space with the college students. Walking around, I noticed a man with his shirt off, relaxing, people riding bikes and rolling in tricked-out wheelchairs. I encountered all walks of life and everyone gave off a very accepting energy. I thought, this is how life should be: free to be whom you are while mingling with anyone that may look different from you.
When my free hour was up, I walked to the admission building called Old Main, which was the original building from when the school first opened.

From the informational tour, these are the top 12 facts I took away about the University of Arizona:
1. Everything you need is within one square mile. Within that space, everything is easily accessible and safe and there are blue emergency lights all over.
2. The campus has over 42,000 students and 33,000 are undergraduates. The campus feels very traditional and community oriented. It is a big university but it can also give you a small campus feeling.
3. It’s a tier one research school and even freshman can conduct research with funding.
4. The top two majors are Science and Business.
5. The university has program called “Real World Ready.” The program aims to ensure that every student that graduates from their institution has real world experiences by doing one of the following: working a campus job, interning with a company or organization, volunteering someplace, and/or studying abroad. Students must complete a capstone to document their experience and it’s endorsed on the official transcript by the university.
6. There are programs for students that have physical and or learning challenges and there is a service that solely focuses on their needs. I think this is awesome to have on a campus.
7. The university’s English, Math, Foreign Language courses are capped at 35 students.
8. Some classes are lecture hall format, but there is a day each week for courses to have discussion groups that are only 35 students large.
9. The university has a Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center to help students manage their learning and attention challenges with a variety of student programs and services. They meet with their Strategic Learning Specialist every week for 30 minutes appointments. They have individuated learning plans, workshops, skill development seminars, tutoring an educational technology to help students achieve academic success.
10. To help students in their class there are preceptors to help teach the class to students that may be struggling.
11. They offer a bike valet, so if you are running late you can drop your bike off and someone will park it for you.
12. They have a synchronized swimming team.
It is truly a one stop-shop university for students that are looking for something with everything.
I ended my visit with my tour guide singing the school’s fight song and talking to students as I walked back to my car. Every student I talked with was friendly and helpful.

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