Never be late to class again: Easy tips and tricks for navigating campus

A few basic strategies can take you from lost cause to resident expert when it comes to figuring out campus for the first time.

The University of Alabama’s campus is well-known in the South for its beautiful green spaces, ancient oak and magnolia trees and picturesque brick buildings. As a new student, however, the campus can also seem intimidating and difficult to navigate. With some tips, tricks and more experience, you’ll find yourself sitting on the Quad stress-free and maybe even giving other people directions to campus buildings.


Although the official University of Alabama app isn’t the most high-tech, it’s worth a download just for the map of campus. The map itself is very clear and well-illustrated. It uses color to its advantage, easily depicting the green open spaces, gray roads and tan walkways. The app also shows trees, lakes, parking lots and any other easily distinguishable landmarks. On top of that, the buildings on the map are detailed with different coloring, shapes and height so that you can be sure of what any building on campus looks like. You can also click on individual buildings to get a few facts about the space and pictures of what it looks like on the outside. 

The most helpful aspect of the app, however, is the ability to look up buildings and their abbreviations. It’s easy to get caught only knowing the abbreviation of the building that your class is in. In the app, you can effortlessly look up TH for Ten Hoor or GA for Garland Hall. The app also has the ability to track where you are located so you can see your real-time location in comparison to where you need to go.


Though the UA app can be useful for your map, nothing beats the accuracy and quickness of Google Maps. While some of the University’s buildings might be a little too obscure and little-known for Google Maps to accurately portray directions, it’s very helpful for more well-known areas and buildings like Gorgas Library, the Ferguson Student Center and dormitories. 

The app isn’t as useful if you’re walking to class, but it’ll steer you in the right direction and better inform you of exactly where you are located. If this is your first time in Tuscaloosa (or you just need some easy directions), Google Maps is even better for showing you to grocery stores, friends’ houses and other off-campus locations. 


It might be nearly impossible to memorize every building at The University of Alabama, but by learning the locations of some key buildings and areas, you can better understand what part of campus you’re on, what buildings you’re near and find shortcuts that will make your walks to class shorter.

For example, it’s helpful to know that the Black Warrior River traces the northern boundaries of the campus. In this northern part of campus, there are mostly just dormitories and dining halls with few educational buildings. By knowing that the dorms are along the river, you can also know when you’ve walked too far north. 

If you live in these dorms, then you can reasonably assume that most of your destinations will be south of your building. Also, because of its centralized location, you can view the Quad as the middle of campus. 

If you’re on the Quad, then that means that you’re relatively close to most of the more popular educational buildings. Most buildings on campus surround the Quad, whether they’re directly facing it or a couple of blocks behind it. By knowing which side of the Quad your location is found, you’ll be able to navigate most of campus easily.

Other important buildings include dining halls, dormitories and the Ferguson Student Center, which houses the SUPe Store, several dining locations, study spaces and offices inside that can be very useful during your time on campus. 

The Ferg also has multiple information desks where student employees can offer help too. Other important locales could include the Quad, Gorgas Library, Woods Quad, ten Hoor Hall and Shelby Quad.

Next, try to understand where the buildings relevant to your major are located. Although not all of your classes will be restricted to these locations, it’s useful to know what area of campus you’re going to be in the most. 

For example, if you’re majoring in engineering, then it’s time you get acquainted with Shelby Quad, where you’ll find the North and South Engineering Research Centers and Shelby Hall. If you’re in the College of Arts and Sciences, most of your classes will be centrally located around the Quad and Woods Quad. The School of Nursing and the School of Law are fairly far from the rest of the campus buildings, so that’s useful to know as well.

Most buildings have specific departments in them. For example, BB Comer Hall is home to all language classes and the study abroad offices. Throughout your time at The University of Alabama, you’ll easily start to recognize buildings and what they’re used for.


On a busy weekday during the semester, you’ll see dozens of students, professors and other campus personnel walking around campus with you. Chances are, they know where they’re going and can at least point you in the right direction if you ask for help. 

If there’s anything that The University of Alabama is good at, it’s Southern hospitality, so you shouldn’t have to worry about ever asking someone for help. If you’d rather not ask a stranger on the street, then it can also be helpful to find a library or the Ferguson Student Center and ask one of the help desks for directions.


If you have a class far from your dorm or parking deck and can crack the bus routes, then the Crimson Ride can be a lifesaver when you’re tired or it’s raining. The bus routes can be found on the bus routes page of the UA website or you can download the Passio GO! app in most app stores, which will tell you where the buses are in real time.