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.

Summer Sixteen

Drake loves the change of pace “Summer Sixteen” brings!

I know that we are all getting excited for spring break (2 more days, we can do it!); trust me, the sunshine and sand are calling my name right now. In addition to lounging on the beach, I also want to finalize my summer plans over break. I know summer may seem so far away, but it’s really not–it’s less than two months away. It’s time to start planning now, whether you are heading back to your hometown to spend some quality time with your family or to work a summer job, or studying abroad or traveling, or if you are staying in the great town of Columbus to take some summer classes, do research, or work.

If you are looking for summer employment, make sure you start searching early and send those job applications in. You can search for opportunities through Ohio State’s student employment site.

If you want to spend your summer engaged in research, reach out to a professor who is performing research in an area that interests you. Or, you can start your own research project! Information about funding for the summer and getting started in research is available through the Undergraduate Research Office.

If you want to have a Buck-I-SERV experience there are some summer trips happening, and the deadline to apply is Sunday, March 20 (the tail end of spring break).

Many people will be taking classes during the summer (I will be taking a few classes too!) and those classes make occur through another institution. I wanted to spend some time talking about how to make sure that you are taking classes that will transfer and steps to take to have a successful experience.

First things first, decide if you will be taking classes at Ohio State (either at the Columbus campus, a regional campus, or online) or at another institution.

If you are taking classes at Ohio State:

  • Check out the new Summer term 2016 structure. Things are changing and knowing the structure is crucial! The Registrar’s website also has some helpful information.
  • Go to Buckeye Link to schedule your classes; I’d recommend using the Schedule Planner feature to organize your classes.
  • Once you are registered for classes, the expectations are similar to what you’ve experienced in any other term, but be sure to pay attention to specific dates and deadlines that may apply just to summer term.

If you are taking classes at another institution:

  • I recommend starting at Transferology, which is a website that allows you to see how your credit will transfer to Ohio State. This way you will be sure that the class you are taking at your guest institution is an equivalent of an Ohio State course and will transfer.
  • If your course at your guest institution isn’t an exact match of an Ohio State course, you may still earn credit for it by having the course evaluated.
  • Make sure you are talking to your academic advisor; they are extremely knowledgeable on the entire process. The advising website also offers many helpful hints!
  • On the Buckeye Link home page under the “Enrollment and Academic History” heading is a link called “Transfer Credit Report” that will allow you run your report.

Drake knows it’s a bad idea to not think about your summer plans.

Regardless of how you are spending your summer, take some time to reflect on your first year of college and your Ohio State experience thus far. During my summer after my first year I made a list of things that I wanted to accomplish or experience during my time at Ohio State, kind of like my own Ohio State bucket list! Make sure you are planning ahead because summer will be here before you know it!

Orientation: Past, present and future

We’re just two short weeks away from the first day of orientation for new freshmen beginning their first year at Ohio State this fall. Let’s see where we’ve been and where we’re going with orientation programs.

The history of orientation programs dates back to the early days of higher education in the United States. Harvard College, founded in 1636, was the first institution to implement a system by which experienced students helped new students in their transition to campus. Along with a personal support system, new students were introduced to certain “rites of passage”, which would likely be considered hazing today.

Toward the end of the 19th century, Harvard maintained faculty contact with students by assigning faculty members administrative responsibilities outside the classroom; one of these responsibilities was the orientation of new students. It wasn’t long before other colleges across the country became invested in the concerns specific to freshman students.

Today’s orientation programs have evolved from merely providing individualized faculty attention to focusing on myriad issues while responding to the needs of an increasingly diverse student and family population.

Orientation at Ohio State

In 1926, Ohio State enrollment had already reach 10,000 students, more than 25 percent of whom were freshmen. Freshman Week – later known as Welcome Week – started in 1927 under the leadership of President Rightmire as a way to help acquaint students with campus, to engage students in fellowship with one another, and to improve student retention. By 1947, orientation was a formalized university program.

Two-day orientation programs began at Ohio State in 1961; our schedule in 2015 is a modern version of what existed 54 years ago, including small group activities, advising and course registration, placement testing, and student identification photos. Staffs of upperclass peer leaders have varied in size – ranging from 11 to 34 undergraduate students – and represent the diverse interests and backgrounds of the university student body.

This year’s class of new students will meet their FYE Peer Leader at orientation, and these Peer Leaders will continue to engage in outreach and relationship development throughout the new students’ entire first year at Ohio State.

We look forward to welcoming our new students to Ohio State this summer!

Freshman orientation, September 1953 (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

Freshman orientation, September 1953 (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

 

Columbus: The place to be in the summer

We are so close to summer I can almost taste the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and hear the crack of a bat at a Columbus Clippers game. Whether you find yourself in Columbus for the summer or just here for the end of the school year, there are countless opportunities to quench your boredom and explore the city. Here are some of my favorites:

The Short North:

For those of you who have not visited the Short North on High Street south of campus, I implore you to pull out your BuckID, hop on a COTA bus, and get on down there. Some of my favorite memories at Ohio State have been on the first Saturday of every month when all the art galleries and stores in the area open up their doors for Gallery Hop.

A store called Flower Child is my personal favorite in the Short North. Often described as an up-scale thrift shop, Flower Child has an outfit for any occasion and it has the best vintage selection around. Paired with a scoop of Columbus’s very own Jeni’s ice cream, your Saturday night just got a whole lot cooler.

Free Concerts:

The best part about staying in Columbus over the summer is the weekly concert on the Columbus Commons, which puts a local band on the big stage. Food trucks, including Mikey’s Late Night Slice, and Jeni’s all show up for the concert each Wednesday from 7-11 p.m. Frisbees, blankets, and a date are encouraged.

There are also free fitness classes offered at the Columbus Commons!

Easton:

Easton is the shopping mall where boredom goes to die. There are stores for every kind of shopper, from Nordstrom to See’s Candy and Jeni’s Ice Cream (it’s everywhere…). There are plenty of restaurants around and a movie theater.

Food:

I love to eat, and Columbus is known as the test market of the United States. If you love food as much of me, you will try Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace downtown and Hot Chicken Takeover in the North Market, which are two of the city’s pride and joys. Or if you are looking for a more upscale restaurant, be sure to check out one of Cameron Mitchell’s restaurants.

Zoo:

I have always loved sea turtles, and to get my fill I have always gone to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which was ranked the best zoo in the nation in 2009. Although this will require a car, the zoo is definitely worth the trip. With 10,000 animals all in one place you are sure to see your favorite and discover new animals. Like this one:

The Franklin Park Conservatory is also a great place to get your butterfly fix!

 

From the Blue Jackets to German Village there is always something new in the 614. Don’t like any of my ideas? Find your own hidden gems in the area and let me know what I have to try!

Your Summer Playlist: 6 Songs to Describe Orientation

Hello again, everyone! I’m so excited to be back on First Things First, but I’m especially excited because I get to talk about a few things that I just love: summer, music and Ohio State Orientation.

Every summer there’s a slew of new music released (I’m loving “Problem” by Ariana Grande right now FYI). So whether you’re dancing around your bedroom or driving with the windows down on a summer night, there’s nothing like some good music to make everything right.

Today I’m super pumped to share 6 songs with you that describe the orientation experience. So pull up Spotify or grab your iPod and let’s make a playlist for your summer orientation.

 

1. “Wide Awake” – Katy Perry

When you show up to orientation on that first morning, it is EARLY. Whether you’re traveling five miles or 5,000 miles, it is rarely fun to get up early. However, I encourage you to arise and soak in the experience. This is your first introduction to Ohio State as an official Buckeye. Wipe the sleep from your eyes and enjoy those icebreakers, pay attention to the sessions and ask questions. Make sure that you’re wide awake and ready to make the most of your orientation experience.

2. “Ain’t It Fun” –  Paramore

Like I said before, orientation is probably your first time at Ohio State with your future classmates and peers. HAVE FUN! Why not? To quote the song, “don’t go crying to your mama.” This isn’t a sad time, it’s happy! Talk to as many people as you can, enjoy yourself at the evening activities at the RPAC and laugh as hard as you can during Orientation Night Live (the comedy show put on by the Orientation Leaders). Ain’t it fun? It should be!

3. “Carmen Ohio” – Ohio State’s Alma Mater

Of course I had to sneak “Carmen Ohio” onto this list. Perhaps unlike many other schools across the country, I can honestly testify that Ohio State students truly treasure their alma mater. This song is sung at the end of every football game, after club and organization meetings and at both Convocation and Commencement. The song is all about tradition, friendship and loving your Ohio State home. What better time to learn it than at orientation? (Yes, you will sing “Carmen Ohio” at orientation). This little song is a crown jewel of Ohio State and it continues to give me chills whenever I hear it.

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4. “Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen

You’re going to meet so many new people at orientation. It may be at the opening session, in your small group, at dinner, or a multitude of other places. These people could be the first of your classmates that you befriend. Don’t hesitate to call them (but who am I kidding: nobody calls anybody anymore), text them, or add them on social media. There is nothing wrong with staying connected on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram before school begins in the fall. Who knows, maybe someone you meet could end up being your friend, roommate, or significant other. Call them maybe?

5. “Clarity” – Zedd ft. Foxes

After your orientation, you’re going to have accomplished many things. You will have your classes scheduled, you will have tons of information about different resources and services available on campus and hopefully you will have made some new friends. This is what I call clarity, one of the best feelings in the world. I remember feeling so relieved after my orientation. Although I was initially nervous about my transition to college, after I attended my freshman orientation, this nervousness was replaced by readiness and excitement. I hope you will also achieve a sense of clarity, confidence and excitement for your first year once you’ve gone through your own orientation.

6. “Home” – Phillip Phillips

For so many people, orientation can be scary. You may be nervous about scheduling classes, meeting new people and potentially going out of your comfort zone. But there is no need to worry. This is your home now. Soak in the beauty of the Oval and campus both during the day and at night on your moonlight tour. Ask as many questions as you can. And relax, because this is a place where you will be able to grow and learn over the next several years.

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Welcome home and please enjoy your orientation, this playlist, and all that Ohio State has to offer. To me it’s like a good song that I just play on repeat. I hope the same can be said for you very soon.

Up next, the lovely and wonderful Lisa Combs will be sharing with you something that she knows quite a lot about: love. Her challenge is to list 8 ways that your first year is like falling in love. I’m already stoked to see what she has to say.

Charging my iPod,

Connor

5 Tips for Success at Orientation

Welcome to the FYE blog, future Buckeyes! As you’re finishing up your last days in high school and getting ready for a great summer, I wanted to share with you some tips for success at summer orientation. These are a few things I learned throughout my own orientation experience and my time as an Orientation Leader (upperclass students who help you transition to Ohio State).

DRESS for SUCCESS.

When I was preparing for orientation three summers ago (I’m so old) I read that we were supposed to keep it casual and comfortable. Naturally, I understood this as wearing my favorite summery skirt and sandals (pretty sure I just wanted to make a good first impression). After two hours into orientation, I regretted the sandals/skirt combo as my Orientation Leader had us playing interactive, action-oriented games on the Oval, which was not skirt friendly. Be prepared to have fun playing games like this and getting to know your fellow Buckeyes, but make sure you wear what’s most comfortable for you. There’s also quite a bit of walking throughout the two-day program and infamous temperamental Ohio weather. Try to wear sensible shoes and pack an umbrella if you don’t like the rain.

KEEP it POSITIVE.

Bring a great attitude and be open to new experiences. Orientation is a chance for you to meet fellow Buckeyes and learn about many opportunities to make your time as a Buckeye the best it can be. Be open to striking up conversation with someone in your small group or on your walk to your foreign language placement test. I actually met one of my best friends waiting to talk to my academic advisor; we bonded over a love for musicals and our biology majors. Three years later, I’m no longer a biology major, but I’m still best friends with that boy.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP.

Sleep on the plane flight or during the car ride, because these two days are packed with fun activities, course registration, plenty of walking and icebreakers. Make sure you are refreshed for your orientation!

LOVE YOUR PARENTS, GUARDIANS, FAMILY, FRIENDS and MENTORS who HELPED YOU BECOME a BUCKEYE.

Be thankful for all that others have done to help you get here…and thank yourself for all your hard work! Get ready to be part of a loving, supportive community that will provide you with countless amazing memories and life experiences.

YOU do YOU.

Be yourself during your time at Ohio State. Being a Buckeye means being part of a larger community that is comprised of amazing individuals. This is your time to let your true colors shine! We cannot wait to get to know the real you.

Alright, Class of 2018, we look forward to meeting you in a few short weeks! Get ready for you next big adventure.

Tips for SUMMER!

At this point in the semester, your brain may be thinking (perhaps during inconvenient times, like when studying for your final exams) about the endless possibilities of what is to come this summer. While you relax and let your brain rest with fun activities like bonfires, swimming, sun, friends, family, grilling, etc., I want to remind you that college extends past your first year.

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That’s right, you get to come back to campus as a knowledgeable sophomore! Ohio State works hard to communicate and prepare you for a smooth transition in the months before and throughout your first year. Your summer after your first year is a little different. The university is sending you messages about important dates and deadlines on a less frequent basis. If you truly wanted to, you could leave for the summer and be completely separated and removed from the place you called home for the last nine months.

Now, don’t stress and think that the only way to stay connected and have an easy transition back is if you literally stay here all summer. While that may be possible and convenient for some, there are definitely other opportunities and ways to stay involved. I am here with tips for making an easy transition to your second year!

Stay connected with your Ohio State friends

This summer, it is very likely you’ll be separated from the new friends you made this year; however, this doesn’t mean you have to be disconnected. Consider setting up a GroupMe account. Here, you can all chat and stay updated in one, continuing conversation throughout the summer. Staying connected in this way will allow you to keep updated so when you do come back to campus your relationships can pick up right where they left off.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to stay connected for so many different reasons. First, it can be a great opportunity to come back to campus. There are several organizations that still look for volunteers in the summer months and work really close to campus. You could benefit the Columbus community and also pop back, check up and take a walk around campus in one activity…and what is better than that? To make the experience even more enjoyable, you could even involve your friends. Send out a text message through your new GroupMe account and make a friend date out of volunteering!

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Review

Yes, I know it is summer and I fully understand that the majority of us do not want to spend it studying or dealing with academia in any way. However, you don’t want to forget all of the information you just spent the last nine months mastering, do you? So even though it may not be most fun, reviewing a bit of the information in the summer may be a good idea.

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So how can you make this happen? We all have unique morning rituals that usually involve eating. (If your ritual doesn’t, it should: breakfast is the most important meal!) I have found that this is a great time to be a little productive. My mornings were pretty basic: woke up, drank a cup of coffee, and then ate breakfast. Before my cup of coffee I was often dysfunctional, but afterward I found that I could focus and had some convenient downtime while eating. Eventually, I figured out that I could fill this with some reading. I designated Monday and Tuesday morning as my days and on those morning would spend my time eating and skimming over my lessons and notes from my classes. On the other days, I would forget about school and either watch TV or read a book. Soon it became part of my schedule and I was surprised at how easy it was to do every week. Everyone has a different schedule so it is up to you to decide how many days and when the timing would work. Coming from personal experience I can not tell you how much this simple task helped prepare me. Keeping your brain active, specifically with information that pertains to your next school year, will truly make the transition back into the rigorous college curriculum that much easier.

Summer is great for so many reasons, but it is not just limited to only family and vacations. As you can see there are some easy things that you can be doing for school, too. Before you know it, August will be rolling around and the semester will be starting up again. Be as prepared as possible to take on campus as successful second year students.