My College Experience

Michael Eckhardt of Tucson tells us about his time in the University of Arizona, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2004.

When I was applying to colleges, I had already made the decision to stay in-state. Thus, I only applied to the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona, in particular, was looking for a placekicker on its football team, and they really wanted to recruit me as a preferred walk-on. Arizona State, on the other hand, guaranteed admission to high-school students who were in the top 25% of their classes. In the end, however, I decided to stay closer to home. Flagstaff, where NAU was, was too cold, while Arizona State had a lower-ranked computer science program.

Even if my family lived in Tucson, my parents still wanted me to experience living on campus. Maybe it was because my dad had been living away from home since the joined the Air Force and wanted me to do the same. At any rate, I ended up hauling my clothes to Coronado Residence Hall, where I shared a room with another freshman. While some people would think that sharing a bathroom with three other people isn’t exactly ideal, I was already used to it, having lived in Army camps since I was a kid. There, I met many people who would later become close friends and colleagues.

After a couple of years, I applied for a place at the Babcock Residence Hall. While it is very far from Old Main and the Computer Science Department, it does have its own pool – something that the other dorms don’t have.

As a freshman, I was introduced to the Arizona school spirit very early. We went up to “A” Mountain, southwest of Tucson, and painted the giant granite “A” white. While the “A” started as a project by engineering students, painting the “A” is now a rite of passage for all Arizona freshmen, regardless of major. We also had students guarding the mountain day and night, especially right before games against Arizona State; Sun Devils fans kept on trying to paint our “A” red and gold. I’m proud to say, though, that they never succeeded in painting our “A” while I was still studying.

Arizona is also home to the student support group known as the ZonaZoo. As part of the ZonaZoo, we filled up the student section at every football and basketball home game, and we even stormed the Lute Olson Court after a huge win over UCLA. Nowadays, there is very little to cheer about in football, but our basketball team is making a huge run in the Pac-12 and has beaten some very good competition out of conference. I expect the Zoo to be even noisier when UCLA visits Tucson in February. And while I’m no longer a student there, I’ll be right there at courtside, chanting with them.

Another thing I miss about the campus is the fact that it’s very spacious and organized. The campus is more or less divided into four quadrants; the science buildings belong in one quadrant, the sports facilities belong to another, the engineering departments occupy yet another quadrant, and so on. This is very useful if you have to get to class in a hurry, as I was when I was wrapping up my senior project.

Am I sounding too much like a prospectus? If I am, I’m not sorry about it. I believe the University of Arizona is one of the best colleges in the country, and one that offers the most value for your money. If you are looking for a large, scenic campus with top-notch facilities and faculty, the University of Arizona might be perfect for you, as it was for me. Bear Down, Arizona!