Getting Around Campus

It’s Your World

The transition from high school to college campus is often considered to be developmentally significant, even unique. Factors beyond the basic physical alterations figure prominently. Almost all students indicate some level of stress especially marked during the first few months of campus living.

Settling into your new digs is an important component in the acclimation process. College campus is far removed from the family unit. Students that invest themselves sooner than later in their new life will generally fare better. Your best defense is to show up prepared and enthusiastic.

Use Your Summer Wisely

September is a number of months post your official enrollment. Over the summer you likely will receive a heap of college materials; everything from orientation information to course catalog and cultural events calendar to information on student health services. This information could prepare you in advance for the initial transition to campus life. Learn where your dorm will be located, how to get to the dining hall and where you can go if you want to take a dip in the pool. Study the course catalog and highlight courses you’d like. Include first choices, second and even third choices. This course selection strategy gives you a bit of an advantage when it comes registration time.

Manage Your Campus Time

Since a large part of your campus experience will be determined by your ability to manage time wisely, a good habit to begin is schedule-building. Populate your calendar first with class times and second with scheduled time set aside each day for studies. Start and finish your college career strongly with good study skills.

Once you have the priorities inked into your schedule you will have plenty of time to fill in with other activities, events, and even personal time.

Map It

Negotiating the lay of the campus is often tricky for new students. Rural campuses may be sprawling, in contrast to urban campuses that integrate into the surrounding landscape. Campus maps are handy tools that keep you from looking lost. New students are usually given a map, but many colleges also feature an online version.

Speaking of online: you used the college website during your initial research and admissions process, and it is likely just as informational for getting around campus in your first days. Most colleges have very well-managed websites with links to almost any campus service you could want. Explore the website and “bookmark” those pages you are most likely to revisit or require in the future. Jot down phone numbers you might need and enter them into your cellphone address book.

Critical Campus Services

Students often only discover a campus service when they need it most, such as the student health services. This is a phone number you’ll want to have on hand. Sickness comes at the most unlikely times, but generally speaking your campus health services department will function like a cross between an urgent care facility and a clinic. Students are encouraged to seek any kind of medical and health information. Confidentiality is a top priority and you have access to highly trained nurses and physicians. And for after-hours emergencies you will still have resources available.

The campus bookstore and dining halls are usually the first campus locations that ring with familiarity. Besides dealing in all the campus textbooks, the bookstore also outfits you with the college brand. If you’re bowled over by the going price of textbooks you see on the shelves in the bookstore then you might ask around for any on-campus textbook exchanges that may help you save money on your class textbooks.

Campus Accounting and Financial Aid offices are important campus locations. You might need to pay a bill, cash a check or even take out an emergency student loan in the event of some unforeseen emergency.

Social and Cultural Events

Beyond the barrage of new faces, advertisements for parties, early season football games and the impending demand of classes, exists a socially and culturally diverse campus. Jump-start your social networking and make a conscious choice to attend orientations, academic department meet-and-greets and join a club or participate in a sport. Parties remain the most popular social events for most college students, but a little goes a long way. I’m not discouraging you from parties—it’s part of the college experience, but keep it all in perspective.

Cultural events such as concerts, theatrical events, and lectures may garner you some friends and acquaintances that are interested in more than just a good party. Keep up to date with the latest events and bookmark the online Events Calendar.

Social Networking

Need a quick primer on the campus gossip, or current cliques? Facebook is widely used among college campuses. The social networking site is similar to MySpace but is designed to be exclusive to the campus for which it serves.

Commit yourself early in the game and learn all the ins and outs of your new campus environment.