Students come in all possible forms, cultures, races, and economic backgrounds. No matter what your interest, there is probably a club or activity to fit you and many others who have the same interests. The only students that would feel out of place are those that have no interest in making new friends or accepting other people as individuals. Most students, when going to class, wear sweats, slouchy clothes, etc. There are the select few girls who you can tell are freshman in their first semester who dress up and wear make up and such to class. After that though, it's roll out of bed and into class. Many different types of students interact, such as Panhellenic Council. It's made up of 13 sororities and each is different, yet all work together at philanthropy events and other greek sponsored events. Most students I've found are from Tennessee...alot from Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga, but alot of out-of-staters too. Most people DO have a strong financial background, just because UT is a more expensive school and extremely high grades/ ACT scores are required to obtain full academic scholarships.
Another thing I love about UT is the diversity. There is a place for just about anyone here. Someone that might feel out of place/lonely here is someone that is introverted or close-minded. Most activities on campus expect students to speak up and participate in things, so if someone is more focused on being shy or anti-social, they might feel uncomfortable on campus, I think. But other than that, I can say there is probably a club for just about everything, and if there isn't - if you started one, people would join. A lot of my friends are either from middle/east Tennessee or are from out of state. I am from west TN and the representation of that part of the state is fairly weak compared to the other regions of TN. Most students wear what is comfortable to class. No one can be held accountable for their appearance at an 8:00 class. But generally the dress is casual and comfortable - def with a comfortable pair of shoes (most important).
I am in a sorority and we work a lot with many other groups on campus. Students who are really anti-social may feel out of place here. We are a big community and you're never going to be known if you don't get out and meet people. Most students wear t-shirts and jeans/athletic shorts to class. You're pretty much going to get made fun of if you dress up for class. Most UTK students are from Knoxville, Memphis, or out of state. The most prevalent financial back grounds are rich. I'm not saying that you'll be shunned if you're not wealthy, but you might feel somewhat out of place. Students don't really talk about how much we're going to make one day, we just dream about it when the classes get us down.
Unfortunately, racism tends to be a problem here. Not too entirely prevalent, but there are definitely undertones of it. If you are openly gay, then you may receive some awkward looks and rude remarks. Most students dress normally, and the social class generally runs from lower class to upper middle class. It is a public school. The majority of students are conservative and republican, and don't really talk about their future. If one type of student is different from another, they rarely mingle. Essentially, the campus is very divided and if you don't previously know anyone from high school, it may be hard to make friends as well.
I don't believe any student at UT should feel out of place. I see different kinds of people everyday and think nothing of it, although I must say, I think UT is predominantly caucasion students. I believe most of the white students come from more money if not granted scholarships, because they have to get in- and most of the non-white students come from lower-medium income, because I know of different-raced students who just get scholarships to come here based soley on their race, because UT wants diversity. Although UT is a diverse campus, most types/race usually stick together.
When you get into the upper level distribution classes, your classmates become your friends and colleagues. Your classmates are individuals that feel just as passionately about the subject of interest as you do; you are a team in the class. There are always study sessions, homework groups, and classroom fun. Your classmates are definitely those friends that you need to get you through finals week and those hard weeks where everything seems to be due at once.
Most of the honors students are motivated and eager, fun and goal-oriented. Outside of the honors community, many of the students have other interests in mind and spend a lot of their time in their dorm rooms and at parties. My friends and I had like anyone would on a college campus, but some people are more put together than others. Sometimes, there are obvious differences between the people who attend fraternities and sororities, and the people who do not.
There are the students that study day and night, and the ones that wait until the last minute to complete/study for their assignments and exams. A typical students studies one or two days before their exams and usually receives a grade of a B. Also, there are students that do not care about the classes, but only the parties. You usually do not see these students the following semester because of the strict GPA policy at The University of Tennessee.
Since I am a nursing major, I have to take nursing specific courses and therefore, a majority of my classes with the same people. Everyone I have encountered so far has been friendly. Some are more open to talking to people outside of their friend group while others tend to socialize with their group only. But when it comes to answering class discussions and lecture questions, everyone joins forces and helps each other out which is really nice.
I would say that the student body of UTK is very diverse. I personally, do not hang out with a very diverse crowd...in fact most of the people i hang out with on a daily basis are from my same home town. But I'd say we all come from different backgrounds as far as religion and socio-economic class. I would say that most of the students here do come from Tennessee, but there are still a lot from various other states and countries.