UA Junior Shares Top 10 Things Freshmen Need to Know

UA Junior Shares Top 10 Things Freshmen Need to Know

Dear freshmen and transfer students, 

Welcome to The University of Alabama! At this point, you’ve probably heard “Roll Tide” more times than you thought possible and realized that college is way more different from high school than you expected. From dining halls to dorm life, football to friendships, college is a time to grow as a person, step out of your comfort zone, and prepare for your future career.

Whether you’re from out of state or a Tuscaloosa native, this transitional season of life will have ups and downs. Take a deep breath, buy a planner and remember you got this…just keep in mind the top 10 things I wish I knew as a freshman. 

An upperclassman 

1. What’s the difference between Bama Cash and Dining Dollars?

a Bama Dining worker serve a student a bowl of food

On your ACT card, you’ll see how much money you have in two sections: Bama Cash and Dining Dollars. Here’s the difference:  

Bama Cash:   

  • You can use it at more than 100 on- and off-campus locations, not just restaurants.  
  • Rolls over year-to-year.  
  • You can add funds through myBama, the Action Card website or eAccounts mobile app using Apple Pay or a saved payment method after a one-time successful deposit through the Action Card website.
  • Parents or guests can add funds with the guest deposit module on the Action Card website under eAccounts. Visa, Master Card and American Express are accepted.
  • If you are graduating, you can request a refund one month before commencement.  
  • There are a lot of places you can use it, including grocery stores, gas stations, nail salons and even a pet store. See the full list of locations.  

Dining Dollars: 

  • Strictly used for dining/food mostly on campus and at a few off-campus locations.  
  • All Dining Dollars locations accept Bama Cash, but not all Bama Cash locations accept Dining Dollars.
  • It’s possible to be exempted from Dining Dollars. 
  • Funds still in your Dining Dollars account on the last day of exams for spring semester automatically roll into your Bama Cash debit account. 
  • $350 is automatically allotted per semester in your account. 
  • You must be enrolled for a minimum of nine credit hours of undergraduate, on-campus credit hours (not including online, co-op, hybrid or internship classes) to be billed for Dining Dollars. 
  • You can dine with these dollars at any of these locations.   
  • Unused Dining Dollars stay in Dining Dollars and roll from fall to spring semester. 

Note: When using Bama Cash or Dining Dollars to pay, let the cashier know you’re using your ACT Card, and they will direct you to the Action Card reader to tap and use your funds.

2. What’s upper bowl and lower bowl?

students waving shakers in the student section

When it comes to home football games, freshman tickets are in the upper bowl of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Students other than freshmen get lower bowl. Students sit in the student section, or if they are in a campus organization, may be eligible for block seating. Block seating is determined by the Student Government Association. 

Either way, you’re using your ACT card to get into a game. Make sure your phone is charged!

Yes, you can trade your upper bowl ticket for a lower bowl ticket. See instructions on myTickets.

Returning students can get a full season ticket package in the lower bowl during the opt-in period in the spring.

3. How do I get a full season ticket package? How do I buy tickets?

Student ticket packages are bought online at through the student ticket portal. All eligible students will get emails with instructions on where, when and how to buy tickets. Ticket balances can be checked on MyTickets through myBama. 

Buy individual tickets

4. What if I have a ticket but can’t attend the game?

You can sell or trade them to another student you know or ask an upperclassman to add you to a Buy/Sell/Trade GroupMe or Facebook group. After any payment is exchanged (make sure it is legit), you’ll transfer your ticket to the buyer using myTickets. You essentially are putting the ticket onto their Act Card. You will need their myBama username to complete this transaction.  

You can also just transfer or donate any tickets you don’t need.

Note: Transferred student tickets are still based on their original bowl section and not based on the student who is receiving the ticket. 

5. How do I get Tide Loyalty Points?

A group of Crimson Tide fans smile at the camera during a football game.

Download the free Tide Loyalty Points app. Make sure you allow it to have your location. You will get points as it tracks your location to see if you are at the game. 

Points are earned through credit hours, donating your tickets, joining Crimson Chaos and attending games. You’ll earn more points if you stay until the fourth quarter at football games #playfor4stayfor4. 

Your account must be set up with your Crimson email account. 

Familiarize yourself with the point differences based on the sport and other details on the Tide Loyalty Points website or app. 

6. How can I park without getting a ticket? 

To avoid getting a ticket, park in a legal space that is in your designated zone Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you park in other zones, like faculty/staff zones, during these hours you may receive a ticket. After 6 p.m. on weekdays and on the weekends, students may park in faculty/staff zones and other zones that are not residential. Accessible spots, residential zones, reserve lots and tow-away zones are enforced 24 hours a day, so don’t park in any of these without the proper permit. 

To avoid getting a ticket at the start of the fall semester, buy your parking passes in the summer before classes start.  

Note: If you get a ticket, it’s possible to pay for one ticket through community service through the SGA and Transportation Services Parking with a Purpose initiative

7. How do I drop or add a class?

Do you feel like you bit off more than you can chew? There is no shame in dropping a class. At the start of the regular term, there is a one-week change-of-schedule period where you can drop a class without any permanent notation. After that, there is another period where if you withdraw you will receive a grade of “W.” Check the academic calendar to see these deadlines for each term.

Talk with your academic advisor before dropping a class because withdrawing can result in delayed graduation, and a change to full-time student status may impact things like scholarships, insurance and more.

How to drop a course: 

  1. Log in to myBama. 
  1. Type in the search bar “add/drop a class.” 
  1. Select term (for example, fall 2023). 
  1. Click on action (where it says “none,” you change it to “drop”). 
  1. Hit submit changes. 
  1. As a courtesy, let your professor know. 

To add a course: 

  1. Enter the Course Reference Number in the Add Classes section. 
  2. Submit changes.  

8. What is GOBD?

Four students representing various clubs at Get on Board Day on the quad.

Get on Board Day is an exciting day to be a UA student, especially a freshman. You can meet people from all over campus and find your niche. UA has more than 600 student organizations from club sports to music groups to major-specific clubs. You may have seen it this year — the Quad set up with about 600 tables. It’s a time to sign up for clubs and bring a tote bag to load up with goodies.

Note: There are college-specific GOBDs, too. For example, the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ annual event is called COMMunity.

9. Check your email daily…or probably more than that.  

Two students studying at a picnic table outside of the Student Center

Important announcements and messages from the University are sent by email, including the weekly Inside UA newsletter.

Also, check your Blackboard messages. Professors will send notices in there. And some professors may only communicate via Blackboard. 

10. Buy textbooks at the Supe Store.  

You can also buy them on eBay or from a student who already took the class, as long as you make sure it is the correct edition.  

Note: When your professor starts talking about Access Granted, that means it is an online textbook. 

Bonus Tips  

What’s the difference between UAPD and TPD?

UA police officers outside of a dorm with their police car nearby.

The University of Alabama Police Department serves and protects the UA community and has primary jurisdiction over the UA campus, while the Tuscaloosa Police Department serves the City of Tuscaloosa. The two departments work in partnership. You’ll often see UAPD and TPD officers working together on the Strip, at UA football games or other events.  

If you have an emergency, call UAPD at 205-348-5454 or 911. You should save 205-348-5454 in your phone or use the emergency contacts feature in the UA Safety app to easily dial UAPD with the push of just one button. If you are in a situation where it’s not safe to make a phone call, you can text 911 with your emergency information. Remember, always call 911 when you can, text when you can’t. 

For your safety, UA has more than 200 emergency blue phones in outdoor areas and parking decks throughout campus. These phones are a direct connection to UAPD.  

Download the UA Safety app. The app provides UA Alerts, severe weather alerts for Tuscaloosa County, and a seven-day weather forecast. The Explore feature in the app provides a map to every campus building, storm shelter and blue phones. 

Get involved on campus through community service groups or student organizations. 

Four friends hanging out at International Coffee Hour.

The Source lists upcoming events and the full list of student organizations. The University of Alabama is proud to offer more than 600 clubs, so there is truly something for everyone! There are club sports, major-related or pre-professional groups, religious organizations, volunteer opportunities and much more.

There you have it!

Enjoy freshman year because there is no other time like it. From your first football game in Bryant-Denny Stadium as a college student to staying up late studying for an exam in your dorm, there are so many memories waiting to be made. My final advice is to apply yourself in school, make new friends, and drink lots of water because this is Alabama and it’s hot outside. 

Roll Tide,  
An upperclassman