by Marshall Firestone
There were many options that came to my mind when it came to college, but there was only one that had my heart: a college located in Columbus, OH with a tradition as strong as time, The Ohio State University. A large campus where I could network with people in the hustle and bustle of the city and one where I could hopefully find myself in the process. But instead of going directly to Columbus, I spent the first three years of my undergraduate studies at the regional campus in Wooster, OH.
Starting at the Wooster campus has provided me an opportunity to become a student ambassador as well as to excel in my class work. I qualified for a program at Ohio State ATI called Program Excel. It’s a resource that students can be eligible for starting their freshman year and has many things that can help. These range from mentors to help with a student’s plan, tutors to help with troubling subjects, or even early visits to the Columbus Campus. All these resources are here to help the student to stay on track to graduate.
The thing I personally rely on most is the personalized mentor to help students. Within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, students have an academic advisor that helps with academic processes. The mentor through Program Excel, however, also helps make sure that a student stays on track to do well in the college setting, and is also someone you can meet with to get more help with daily struggles. I meet with my mentor at least once a semester, if not more. During the meetings we sit down and talk about what’s going on in my life, inside and outside of the classroom. My mentor will ask how I’m doing in tough classes and if I need help in them. She will also discuss my transition process to the Columbus Campus that starts two semesters before I begin classes there. This mentor is someone that I know will always support and push me to do better in class and in my extracurricular activities.
Alongside the mentors of Program Excel, tutors are also provided in the program to help with classes like Chemistry, Biology, and some major-specific classes. I have always been able to excel in the science-based classes, but coming to college made me put in even more work than I had during high school. For example, I took a genetics class here at Ohio State ATI and I was doing decently in the history portion of the class, but not necessarily when it came to computing different statistics or knowing about different inheritance levels of certain genes. My friends and I went to the tutor for that class, and it helped us understand the material. In the small group of students meeting with the tutor, we were able to ask questions, and after that exam, the group of students were among those receiving the top grades on the exam.
Not only does Program Excel assist students while on the ATI campus, it also helps students start the transition process to the Columbus Campus. I was among a group of students visiting the Columbus campus last semester, and it was a learning moment that will stay with me my entire career. The visit to the Columbus camps is probably be the best thing I have done through Program Excel. I was petrified about going to Columbus before that visit day, but now that I participated in this event, I feel absolutely assured that I will grow into an amazing person on that campus.
We left Wooster for the Columbus visit day around 7:00 a.m. (Students can drive down themselves, but the university also provided transportation.) When we arrived at the Columbus Campus, the first building we saw was the Agricultural Administration building. This building is where students can get help if they need it and there is also a library there. We had a quick breakfast and then sat down to get an overview of the day.
The students were divided into groups to talk about things that are exciting and scaring us about the transition process. I realized during this time that although people are transitioning at different times and within different programs, we are all worried about similar things. After the group work, we were sorted into two larger groups. One group went on a campus tour of the agriculture campus, while the other sat down with the transition team at the Columbus Campus.
My group met with the transition team first. After this session, you could see that everyone was more relaxed about the process. I know I personally was worried about whether the classes I will be taking on the Columbus Campus will be harder. But the team reassured me that the classes may be harder but there are just as many people on the Columbus Campus that want me to succeed as there are on the Wooster Campus.
After that, my group went on a tour of the campus. When thinking about how big the Columbus Campus is, it was very relaxing to see that the agricultural campus is relatively the same size as ATI. After the tour, we got together again to ride of the “scary” campus bus system. The ride was not scary at all. In fact, many of the students thought that the ride was pleasant and might consider it for transportation on campus. When we got off the bus, we visited one of the dining halls, a gym, and one of the campus housing options for first- and second-year students.
We also met with the person in charge of off-campus housing, Willie Young. He talked to us about landlord issues and roommate agreements, and he said to talk with him and his staff if we had any questions. That was toward the end of the visit, so all the students left the Columbus Campus with loads of knowledge, not to mention a free Nike OSU logo backpack!
Program Excel is an amazing tool for students while on the Wooster Campus. It allows for students to make sure they are doing the things that are needed for when they continue their education. The mentors are there to make sure students are studying but also living life. The tutors are there to make sure students fully understand the classes here, since the Columbus classes will build upon that knowledge. The Visit Day can show students that the Columbus campus is not to be feared and has just as many, if not more, resources for helping students. All in all, Program Excel is among one the best things about being an Ohio State