Taking Back Your Time: How to Manage Your Time in Your First Semester

Hey everyone! 

 As the beginning of your first year at Ohio State starts to come around in full swing, everything might start to feel very overwhelming. This rang true for me, as my first year didn’t result in academic success. I think the main reason behind my failure to succeed in my major (Zoology/Pre-Medicine) was that I did not manage my time well AT ALL. I had no system to keep track of my events and homework, and I didn’t make a responsible schedule for myself that balanced my free-time and what should have been study time. After finally making a thorough schedule the summer before my second-year, I realized how important it is to stay organized and manage the time I have responsibly. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now without one. Below are some quick Why’s and How’s of organizing a busy schedule. 


I used to think that I wasn’t the type of person who benefited from a planner (or note-taking for that matter) but as the year rolled around, I quickly became overwhelmed in a futile attempt to keep up with everything. The fact of the matter is, you can’t remember everything on your own. In college, your schedule is almost entirely up to you and having some sort of event-organizing device is simply crucial to keeping sanity AND a balanced scheduled.     


Okay, I might sound like a broken record, so how do you go about this practically? For those of you who’ve never needed to use a calendar or planner, it might be hard to start (it was for me). These are some ideas that might work for you: 

 Online Calendars: 

Google Calendar, iCloud Calendar, and Outlook Calendar are all great examples of free online calendars. This my personal first choice (I love Google Calendar). This offers an easy and simple way to color-code, have high accessibility (your phone is probably always on you), and I personally think it’s the least tedious option. Here’s an example of what one of my weeks looks like in Google Calendar: 


Physical Planner:  

For some, this is the best choice. Having a planner you can customize and hand-write in is a very appealing option (some studies show that handwriting improves memory). The only stipulation about these is that the nicer versions cost money, you have to write, and you’re not always going to have it.

 At the very least, a reminders app: 

Just having something to jot down quick reminders will improve your quality of life tenfold. 

I hope these few quick tips help get your first year off in an organized way!


When Your First Year Doesn’t Go as Planned

You had high hopes for your first year at Ohio State, but it’s probable some facet of your experience has fallen short of or been different from your original expectations. As second semester is wrapping up, you may be facing a few questions and concerns.

I was used to getting good grades in high school. What happened?

College is much different from high school in terms of academic expectations, the ways you are tested, and professor-student relationships. It is important not only to recognize these differences, but to take actions that will help you succeed in this new and more challenging learning environment.

The emphasis in college is more on the application of the material you are learning rather on the material itself. While taking an exam, you may find yourself thinking, “We didn’t go over how to do this problem in class!” Panic mode usually ensues and you get upset at the professor for doing such a thing. In reality, not much changes throughout college and even into the working world. This style of testing forces you to leverage what you do know and apply it to something you may have never seen before; it is a tough transition at first, but gets easier the more you learn how you study best (and how you “studied” in high school is likely not how you should be studying in college).

You also may have been used to having immediate and easy access to your teachers in high school; now, if you want help, you need to seek it out yourself. Gone are the days of exams that are just like the study guide. I can’t emphasize enough how valuable office hours can be if you do not understand material you have been going over in class or want to gain insight into what topics your professor finds most important in terms of testing. It may be difficult to believe, but your professors want you to succeed.

If you have not recieved the grades you were expecting, I know it can be discouraging, but believe me when I say, “It is okay!” The issue is not your intelligence or maybe even your effort; it is likely that you have not made the transition from the high school mentality towards education to the college mentality. What can you do about it?

  • Use a planner or electronic calendar (I use Google Calendar) to plan out when you will study/work on homework for each week
  • Take study breaks and be conscious of your engagement level.
  • Don’t cram. Try to keep up with material as you are going through it in class.


I tried to get involved but I haven’t found the meaningful involvement I thought I would.

There is often a period of feeling like the “new guy” when you begin coming around to different organizations, but the more you go, the more people you begin to recognize and get to know, and the more friends you begin to make in that organization. Eventually, you will start to feel like it is a place you belong if you are patient and make it through that initial adjustment period.

It certainly helps to try and find organizations that align with your values, goals, or views on life as it becomes a place in which you feel refreshed and encouraged. I did not begin feeling like I truly found opportunities that helped me grow as an individual and feel as if I was integrated into the community until my second year.

During my first year, I went through huge changes in terms of what role my faith played in my life. It became my everything and so naturally, I got involved with a church on campus called H2O where I could continue to grow, learn, and be a part of an extremely caring community that can be fully empathetic toward my struggles and frustrations with life, with full understanding of my world view. This is not me saying that diversity of opinions in your life is to be avoided; rather, I’m emphasizing the importance of having support from a community that understand where you are coming from.

  • BE PATIENT. We all need to get over our culturally-imposed need for immediate gratification and be patient.
  • Figure out what you really care about in life, then sort through what types of organizations you may be interested in.
  • Deeply invest yourself in people and community. You probably won’t get much out of organizations if you view them as if they exist to serve you.
  • You are a Buckeye and you have a home at Ohio State. Finding that is the challenge, but it’s worth investing the time and energy to find it.

I still have no idea what I want to major in.

You are not alone! I changed my major in my second year. It happens. Focus on what you want your life to be about and how you want to use it, then work backwards and seek out opportunities in which you can contribute toward that purpose through your career. This summer is a good time to do some soul searching.

  • Reflect but know there’s no right answer. You will gain better direction as you get exposed to what is really out there through out your college career. Don’t be afraid to take opportunites to learn about new things.
  • A. W. Tozer’s Rules for Self-Discovery:
    • What we want most
    • What we think about most
    • How we use our money
    • What we do with our leisure time
    • The company we enjoy
    • Who and what we admire
    • What we laugh at

College is a huge time for personal growth but that doesn’t  happen if you do everything perfectly. Know that most people–including me–still struggle with these very same issues. I’ve found it helps to view college as a time to learn and develop your values, beliefs, and what truly interests you in life; the rest has a way of falling into place.

5 Ways to Meet New People on Campus

Welcome Week was fun and busy with hundreds of events all over campus, making it easy to meet new people through opportunities that were already planned for you–all you had to do was show up! Still, some new students do not make great connections during Welcome Week, and if you’re one of those students, you’re not alone…and you don’t have to worry. Here are five great ways to meet new people (now that Welcome Week is over):

Leave your door open in your residence hall (when you’re inside your room)

If you are living in a residence hall, you’ve learned by now that you are surrounded by many other students living on your floor, many of whom are new just like you. If you are just hanging out in your room, leave your door open. As people walk by, invite them to join you. Who knows, your new best friend could be living down the hall!

Introduce yourself to someone in class

If you get to class a few minutes early, introduce yourself to the person next to you. Maybe you will make a new friend, or–at the very least–a new study buddy. The First Year Success Series is also a great place to introduce yourself. Everyone in attendance at your session will be a first-year student, too, and since you all selected the same session, you already have something in common! Ask a student why they choose the particular session–it could be a great conversation starter!

Ask someone new to get lunch

Everybody has to eat, so next time you are heading out for a meal, ask someone new to join you. Maybe this is someone in your residence hall, or someone in class. Maybe you choose to venture out and try a new dining location.

Attend a fitness class at the RPAC

Group fitness classes at the RPAC are a fun way to get exercise. There are a bunch of different types of classes, and you can find one you are interested in through the Recreational Sports website. Just like class, get there a couple minutes early to introduce yourself to someone new.

Check out a student organization

There over 1,200 student organizations on campus. Find one you are interested in and plan to attend a meeting. Many student organization accept new members any time throughout the year. This is a great way to find people with similar interest as you.

Still not feeling connected? Reach out to me or to any Peer Leader in First Year Experience–we want to help you find your fit at Ohio State!

5 Tips for Navigating the Awkwardness of College

Dear Awkward College Students,

As a fellow awkward student now in my third year at Ohio State, I’ve had my share of awkward situations and look forward to many more in years to come. In the meantime, I hope to share a few pieces of wisdom on how to embrace your own awkwardness and make the most of the precariously awkward situations you may find yourself in throughout your time at Ohio State. Although you may not be able to change your awkward nature, you can still thrive in a world that hates awkwardness.

1. Improper and Destructive Ways of Dealing with Awkwardness

Let’s start off with a few things that feed the insatiable creature that is awkwardness.

Texting or tweeting at people in your life who deserve a real conversation. Technology allows us the ability to say things to people that maybe would be awkward or uncomfortable in person. Although it may be easier and feel safer to tweet a passive-aggressive comment about your roommate and the dishes that have been piling up for weeks, don’t expect anything to change by you offending the roommate in front of your Twitter followers. Other situations that deserve at least a phone call if not a face to face interaction include: roommate disputes, asking someone on a date, breaking up with someone, and apologizing if you have hurt someone.

Avoiding awkwardness by turning to alcohol in social situations. This is an extremely unhealthy way to treat alcohol and college is a time where you have ample opportunities to LEARN how to talk to people. Alcohol should not be necessary to “have a good time” or meet other human beings.

2. “Roomie, We Need to Talk”

Living with people is hard, no matter how long you have known them. Wherever you find yourself living during your time at Ohio State, if you have roommates/housemates, you will find awkward situations. However, to successfully live with someone–and in any healthy relationship in life–communication is key. Sometimes that means you must have awkward and uncomfortable conversations where you address the things that your roommate does that bothers you or makes you uncomfortable. Many times they do not realize what they do makes you uncomfortable because you never told them, so be direct but also patient and gracious.

3. Traveling Around Campus

You can easily find the students that are glued to their phones, earbuds in, and therefore closed to any social interaction on their way to class, maybe a head nod for the guy that lived on their floor freshman year or creepy wink for the girl in their Biology class as they pass them on the Oval. Rather than escaping into your music as you head to Chemistry lecture, LOOK UP, and enjoy the beautiful campus full of really awesome people! Also, it’s good practice to say “Hi” to the people you recognize (or even strangers, if you are feeling extra friendly), even if you don’t know their name; the alternative of looking down at your phone to avoid eye contact is far worse and far more awkward for everyone. The same goes for buses–you can talk to the people on the bus, it’s allowed!

4. Making Conversation

As you are meeting loads of people, this means you actually have to hold conversations…I know, scary, right? Luckily, everyone in college is in similar phases of life; we are all trying to figure out our own lives and endure similar struggles. This makes conversation easy, so introduce yourself, ask people about their lives, and don’t be afraid to take it deeper than the “Hi, how are you?” “Good, how are you?” interaction that plagues college campuses. The answer “good” really means anything from great to absolutely awful. Ask questions, get to know people, and listen to their stories, because the surface level conversations get pretty old after awhile.

5. Awkwardness in Class

College classrooms are also an awkward hot spot. Many college students use the time before class, or even during class, to scroll through social media, text their friends, or swipe left and right on the latest dating app. College is a unique experience in our lives where we are surrounded by tons of people with very diverse perspectives on life, so take advantage of it! Meeting people in class is an awesome way to form study groups, make new friends who are interested in similar things you are, and make those 8 a.m. classes even more enjoyable as you get to learn about neat things and see your friends, too!


May this picture of me in a very awkward stage of my life (that arguably is still ongoing) encourage you in your pursuit of fully embracing the awkward to make your Ohio State experience a little more pleasant and free from avoidable awkwardness.

So, you’re trying to select an elective…

For many students, choosing elective classes may be an afterthought. However, as I look back on my own student experience, the choices I made for my elective courses led me to take the most interesting, memorable, and useful courses during my time in college. Whether it was learning about global affairs through graphic novels, discussing horror literature, or gaining perspectives on cultures different from my own, I still refer to those classes and the great experiences I had in those electives. I recently asked current students to reflect on their favorite electives they have taken so far. Here are some themes I noticed from our shared experiences which may help you pick the best elective for you!

Educate yourself about important issues unrelated to your major

Ohio State’s motto is “Education for Citizenship” and being an educated citizen is essential for every Buckeye. Electives can provide you the opportunity to learn about important social issues so that you can be more informed about the world around you. Donisha Austin, a second year student, described her experience taking SOCIOL 2367.02–Urban Social Problems. Donisha notes that students should consider this class because it was “intellectually stimulating.” Another elective, SOCIOL 3302–Technology and Global Society, helped second-year student Raphael Melke “think critically in a fun way” through engaging discussions about an important topic. Find those classes that will make you think about new ideas that are completely unrelated to your major so that you can be an informed citizen.

Gain important skills that will help you in life

Your major courses will help you master a particular discipline; however, your elective courses can equip you with other essential skills. Many students choose to take classes such as COMM 2110–Principles of Effective Public Speaking. Justine Moran took this class and said that it was a “great way to learn how to effectively speak in front of a group of people.” Whether you are looking to gain skills regarding public speaking, leadership, or even learning CPR, there are electives which can prepare you to be successful in all aspects of your life.

Learn about history and culture through different lenses

Many of us learn about history and cultures through textbooks in high school. While textbooks are certainly not foreign to college classrooms, many professors look to use unique mediums to teach students about complex topics. Lexi Hites took GERMAN 3252–The Holocaust in German Literature and Film. She enjoyed learning about an important historical event through movies and books. Jessica Gregory took SLAVIC 2230–Vampires, Monstrosity, and Evil: From Slavic Myth to Twilight, and loved learning about a different culture through the lens of films like “Dracula.” Find classes like these where you get the chance to look at important topics in unconventional ways.

Take a class just for fun!

Believe it or not, there are courses which will seem so fun you will look forward to going to class. Third-year student Jenna Murray is taking DANCE 2181–Social Dance this semester because she wants to learn ballroom dance. She enjoys that she gets to earn elective credit while exercising and having fun. For many of you, your class schedule may seem daunting. Taking a class just because you think it will be fun is a great way to get some elective credit, learn about something you love, and enjoy your time in class.

Of course, there are too many great electives to talk about in one post. Comment with some of your favorite electives below and let us know about your most memorable classes!

Forget Freezing: 5 Ways to Stay Warm on Your Walk to Class

  1. Learn shortcuts through building: Almost all campus buildings are unlocked when you are likely walking to class, so start walking through them. Many of the buildings have clear paths through the main level that you can cut through. Even if it takes a few minutes longer, I personally would rather take a few extra minutes in a warm building over freezing in the cold or slipping on the ice outside.University Hall Snow
  2. Learn to knit (or make a friend who is great at knitting): Rather than having to use your precious paycheck to buy scarves, beanies, and gloves, why not learn to make them yourself? Make all your friends jealous with the many different colored beanies and scarves you have to go with every outfit. Plus, a bright colored beanie or scarf might be just what you need to brighten up a cold, dreary walk to your 8 a.m. class across campus.Yarn
  3. Take a bus: You’ve probably heard this time and time again, but CABS buses are free to use, so why not utilize them? If you don’t have the OSU Mobile App, make sure to get it to keep track of bus times. After a few trips you will likely learn exactly how many minutes it takes you to get from your dorm room to the closest bus stop. Once you figure that out, you can minimize how long you have to stand in the cold waiting for the bus if you have the app on your phone. CABS bus
  4. Layers, layers, layers! Don’t forget to wear layers so you don’t overheat when you get to class. Even though it may be annoying at first to practically have to undress when you get to class, just realize everyone else is in the same boat and it is better to take off a few layers when you get there than to freeze outside or burn up inside.Ohio Snow
  5. Run Forrest Run! Let’s face it, when that wind is blowing and there is no bus around, some days you are just going to have to bear the cold and get to class. But just remember on those days to leave a few minutes early so you have plenty of time once you arrive to class to get the feeling back into your hands and face to be ready and prepared for class to start. Nobody wants to be the one who walks in late with a bright red face from the cold and interrupts class as they struggle to take off all their jackets, scarves, and gloves. Walk in Snow Meme