‘Bama Bound’: How NOT To Look Like An Idiot

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide marching band performs prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide marching band performs prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

If you’re an incoming freshman to the University of Alabama, welcome! Also, please don’t look like an idiot at Bama Bound.

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It’s that time of year! High school seniors have walked across that graduation stage and received their diplomas signifying the end of their secondary school career, and are about to embark on this exciting yet sometimes intimidating adventure known as COLLEGE. At the University of Alabama, all incoming freshman must go through a crash-course in all things UA called “Bama Bound”.

Bama Bound is a few days spent on campus at the University of Alabama, filled with thrilling things like tours (snore), parent meetings (insert screaming emoji), taking placement tests (don’t sweat these), and choosing the courses you’d like to take this coming fall (something that will actually help you would probably be good).

During my time at The Capstone, I always looked forward to people watching during the different Bama Bound sessions each summer. My friends and I would find a place around campus, set up some folding chairs, and laugh at all of the ridiculousness that was paraded around in front of us.

Most people don’t particularly like to look “new”, or “stick out”, especially when it’s your first real experience as a college student on campus. Because of that, we’ve decided to take some pity on the poor sweet souls wearing bright red lanyards and tagging along behind a nerd in a suit giving tours. Here is BamaHammer’s Guide to Bama Bound: How NOT To Look Like An Idiot.  You’re welcome.

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Step 1: Ditch Your Parents

This may sound obvious or even a little mean. On one hand, no one really wants to be seen with their parents around campus the first time they set foot on the Quad as an actual student, BUT Mom and Dad probably are paying for all this Crimson Gloriousness. The best thing you can do is tell your parents to enjoy the “Parent Informational Sessions” that are offered while YOU go find something else to do.

ANYTHING else is acceptable.

If your particular Bama Bound group isn’t meeting yet, go grab a Starbucks from the Ferg, sit under an umbrella at a table near the Student Services Center, or wander to the steps of Gorgas Library and just enjoy the beautiful campus. (Don’t know where those places are? See Step 3). Just don’t wander around with Mommy and Daddy while they either relive their own days at the Capstone or ask eleventy-billion questions of the already annoyed group leader.

Step 2: That Lanyard. Just Say No.

When you check in at Bama Bound, you’ll be given what amounts to a BRIGHT CRIMSON NECKLACE with a plastic-wrapped nametag on it. You’ll put it on like everyone else in your group and smile for a few minutes because now things feel Officially Official. Go ahead and wear the lanyard when you’re with your Bama Bound group. But when activities have wrapped for the day and you’re on your own for dinner, for the love of Nick Saban, please take off the giant sign around your neck that declares I AM A FRESHMAN AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. While you’re at it, don’t even pack those JLMHS CLASS OF 2016! t-shirts. For just two days, you can wear something else.

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Step 3: Print Off A Map

Go to a computer. Go to this link: University of Alabama Printable Map PDF.  Print the map.


It’s okay to fold this sucker up and stick it in your pocket or your purse. If you get confused or lost, pull it out and figure things out yourself. Believe it or not, you’ll learn your way around campus a whole lot faster doing it on your own than following the obscure directions of your tour guide.

“If you look to the left, behind those trees and next to Gordon Palmer Hall (wut?), you’ll see the round Biology Building that looks, smells and feels about 200 years old.”

When you’re on the tour, look around and enjoy the sights. It’s a gorgeous campus. If you’re trying to memorize everything about it, you’ll miss the beauty. So keep your map handy and use it if you need some help. You can also ask someone wearing a backpack and looking like they want to jump off Denny Chimes. That person is likely a student taking summer classes who now regrets not going home and being lazy at the lake all day. Just make sure you take off your Freshman Necklace before you ask them how to find Ten-Hoor. (Also it’s pronounced Ten-Who-Er, not Ten-Whore. Just FYI).

Step 4: Don’t Try TOO Hard On Those Placement Tests

This really has nothing to do with looking like an idiot; it’s just very useful advice. At some point you’ll be ushered into a computer lab and forced to take at least a math placement test. If you want to take additional tests for foreign languages, etc., you can do that too. But everyone who goes through Bama Bound will be required to take the mathematics exam. This will determine your “starting point” for all of the math classes you have to take in your college career. If you’re in engineering or some other math-savvy field, you can ignore this step because your ass has to take Differential Equations and all those other classes with Greek letters and random words in place of actual numbers anyway. Everyone else, listen up: Don’t try too hard on these. If you bust your tail, you could get placed in a higher-level math that will in no way further your potential career or your collegiate GPA. Trust me, I made this mistake and ended up having to START at Calculus-1 and take 4 more maths after that. I don’t need anything like this in my day-job, and chances are, you won’t either.

Step 5: Choose Classes You Actually Need

Before your Bama Bound session ends, you’ll meet with your Advisor. These people are usually very nice and extremely useless.

You’ll tell them the classes you want to take, or sometimes they’ll make suggestions for you. The biggest problem is that they usually do not stop to ask you, “And what do you intend to DO with this class/major?”  You’ll discuss your intent to major in philosophy, and they’ll set you up with the courses that you are required to take in order to graduate with a philosophy degree. Not one of them will say, “So….do you think you can earn a living sitting around thinking all day? Or do you have a legit plan for what you will do after you earn your thinking degree?”

The best thing you can do for yourself is to either already have a major – and CAREER – in mind, or if you’re like most people who have no idea what they actually want to do when they grow up, take some general courses that will count towards just about any degree. Some go-to ideas are English 101, a foreign language intro, Biology 101 or another 100-level science, a history course (At UA, 101 & 102 are World History; 203 & 204 are American History), or a humanities class like sociology. You can look at degree requirements and prerequisites for classes on the University of Alabama website. I’m not going to find all of that for you – you’re on the internet; you do it.

Keep in mind that registration for classes is “first come first serve”, so if you have a Bama Bound session later in the summer, your pickin’s will be slimmer.  Most of the classes you take your first semester will be full of freshman, so you’ll all be in the same boat together. Make friends in your classes quickly in case you miss one because you have a


headache, so you can look over their notes and not fall behind. GPAs are make-it-or-break-it at the beginning, so if you try even a little bit and show up for classes, you can start out with high grades and set yourself up for a great collegiate experience and eventually, a rewarding career.

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So there you have it – a few tips and tricks for surviving Bama Bound and not looking like an idiot. Ditch your parents, lose the necklace, figure out how to use a map, don’t sweat the placement tests, and remember that when you’re choosing your classes, you’re looking towards your future and not just passing time.

The most important piece of advice I can give an incoming student at the University of Alabama is exactly what Ferris Bueller would say: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Enjoy every second of your time at The Capstone – the football games, the friends you’ll make, and yes, even your classes. Don’t take for granted that you’re one of the luckiest people in the world to have the opportunity to attend UA – and even the ugly Freshman Necklace is kinda cool.