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Everything you ought to know about Office Hours

What are office hours?

Office hours are special times that professors or teaching assistants (TAs) set aside just for helping students or talking about things related to a class. These are usually among the first things highlighted as the professor goes over the syllabus on the first day. Basically, what tends to happen during office hours is that a few students gather in a predesignated area and go around asking the professor or TA any questions they have about the course. The professor will elaborate on topics covered in lecture, go over homework questions (or random, hypothetical ones), and share any tips they have about understanding the material.

They may also share stories, life advice, suggestions for college, and tips for how to do well on quizzes, tests, and exams. This last part is especially worthwhile.  It’s also worth noting that office hours are like an open houseyou don’t have to show up at the start or stay for the whole time. Even if you can only hop in for 15 minutes and get your question answered, it’s worth it.

What should I ask?

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You can ask about anything relevant to the course material that will help you get a deeper understanding. For TAs, you can also ask the same things you would to a professor; they can certainly be less intimidating and may give you a different perspective.  Here are some examples of what you can ask:

  1. Re-explain a part of lecture
  2. Rework a homework problem
  3. Where to learn more about the topic – even how to get into research with it
  4. What to focus on for midterms/finals
  5. Ways to get extra practice
  6. Things to memorize
  7. How to format projects or what to include

What if I don’t know what I don’t know?

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In a class, there are three levels of being: submerged, head just above the water (most common), and chillin’ in the life raft. You’ll probably experience all of these things at some point in a class. When you’re just lost in a general sense of confusion, office hours are definitely the move. You don’t even have to talk; just sit there taking notes and listening to everyone else’s questions. That’s what I did for the majority of the office hours sessions I attended.  If the prof asks you directly if you have any questions, just be honest and say you’re trying to get less confused or that you’re just listening along for the extra explanations.

Will it be awkward with other people there?

“Come to office hours, I’m just sitting there alone at my desk waiting for students to come in”

You’ve heard this before, I have no doubt. And I’m sure that whoever said it was telling the truth, but I personally have no idea when the stars would align for this to happen. Ohio State is a big school, so even for small classes, a solid number of people will show up to office hours. The other people in office hours may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll quickly realize that you’re among allies in your confusion–you’re all faking it ’till you make it, but office hours pull the mask away a bit. Plus, if you do show up with no idea what you don’t know, you can rely on them to ask the questions for you.

On the flip side, if you’d prefer to meet with your prof or TA one-on-one, many of them have office hours “by appointment”. These tend to be underutilized, so they’re great for focused help and getting to know the professor better. You can also just send them an email saying that you’d like to meet, the vast majority would be happy to schedule at time with you.

How do I get the most out of office hours?

  1. Don’t be hesitant or embarrassed to ask questions, remember that other people will be wondering the same thing.
  2. Come prepared with specific homework questions that confused you.
  3. Have an idea of specific topics that you’re confused about. It helps to mark these points in your actual lecture notes so you know where the confusion began.
  4. Ask any questions that come to your mind during office hours.
  5. Try and stand out to your professor as someone who works hard to understand the material, even if it doesn’t come to them immediately. Your professors are valuable connections and possible rec letter writers.
  6. Make note of what your professor emphasized, this is likely to reappear on a test.
  7. Take notes. Treat it like a mini lecture but with more participation.

Remember that you get out of a class what you put into it. Making the extra effort to attend office hours pays off 🙂

My First Time Going to a Student Org Meeting

I was terrified the first time I went to a student org meeting. But why? I had been to a ton of high school clubs, and had always been involved, so what was different here? Maybe it was the fact that I went to high school with a class size of 150, so when I went to meetings in high school, chances were good I was going to see somebody I knew, or at least know their names. At Ohio State, there are more than 46,000 undergraduate students, so, a bit different. Maybe I was nervous because I was going to Psych Club and I was just a freshman, only having taken the beginner psychology class, so I was going to be so less informed as everyone else. Or, maybe I was nervous because everyone always talked about the importance of clubs and being involved. I needed to be the perfect amount of involved.

Lesson 1: The First Meeting, Nobody Knows Anybody

I walked in expecting everyone to already know each other, but the reality is, everyone was like me, just sitting quietly and exchanging small talk with each other, and it was just a relaxing environment. I sat down and introduced myself to the person sitting next to me. We started with the beginning questions that everyone asks when they first meet in college, such as, “What’s your name, major, and where are you from?” We started with some small talk about our psychology classes and what we liked and didn’t like. And then the meeting started.

Lesson 2: The Executive Board Wants to Hear from You

The executive board of the club started with a few introductions of themselves, and then explained the basics of the club, such as how dues worked, when they would be meeting, and other small things like t-shirts. Then they asked us to fill out a survey to see what we wanted to learn about. This was my time to write down psych club topics that I wanted to learn about in my free time. They were looking for good suggestions in order to craft the club content to the students, because at the end of the day, student organizations exist to get students interested and learning about things that they won’t learn in the classroom. This means that executive boards want to hear from you, so don’t be afraid to share your opinion and what you want to see the club do, whether that’s meetups outside of club hours to get food, or volunteering within the scope of the club.

Lesson 3: Don’t Be There for the Resume

It’s important to note that when you are deciding what clubs you want to spend your time at, identify which clubs you are excited to go to, and which ones are for your resume. It’s pretty obvious if you aren’t into the club if you are just there to look involved. When you are putting clubs on your resume, make sure to elaborate on what you did in each club, including volunteer day trips or projects you did–anything to illustrate how your involvement affected your learning.

Last Thoughts

Trying to decide which student organizations you want to attend and put your time toward can be a real struggle. You have to start deciding what you want to spend your time doing and how you think you will be able to handle them along with your classwork. One piece of advice I can give you is to just enjoy your time. Make friends around you in your clubs and try to make it a break in your day, not something to stress about. 

For Some, This One Thing May Be the Biggest Surprise of Ohio State

WHAT IS IT?

For me, this aspect of Ohio State was evident even before classes began my first year. During my summer orientation, I quickly noticed I was one of the few students there with a minority identity. I remember thinking multiple things at the time, most of them not so positive. I was surprised, nervous, and even a little disappointed–can you relate to these feelings?

THE REALITY OF IT

Ohio State’s enormous student body consists of so many different people; however, the vast number of people doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything about the numbers of those who identify as a minority. Despite the one lump sum of the student body, the reality of Ohio State is that when the student population is scaled down to an underrepresented population, there’s a noticeably smaller number of people. I mean, it’s literally in the name: underrepresented. They lack in numbers. I could bore you with statistics right now, which I won’t, but believe me when I say that there is plenty of data (counts, percentages, surveys, etc.) that show that it may be tougher to find a sense of community on campus if you’re a minority. However, as a second-year student, I went through it myself not too long ago, and I’m here to help elaborate on what you can do.

FINDING YOUR COMMUNITY ON CAMPUS

“Where do I go?”

That is essentially the big question. I know, I asked myself that same question. You may be as concerned as I was about trying to find a group of people that look like you and can relate to culture, experiences, backgrounds, language, heck, even your name! It’s important, I understand. You may or may not have had that community back home or in high school, but Ohio State DOES have these communities; you just have to be willing to look around! There are plenty of opportunities and resources to take advantage of here. Ohio State WANTS you to have that sense of community.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  1. Join a club/organization that revolves around your identity – This one is pretty straightforward. With 1,300+ registered student organizations, there are so many opportunities to meet those who share your identity. You can check out the full directory of registered student organizations in the Discover app on your iPad or online. Save some time and use those filters!
  2. Take advantage of events held by the university – Ohio State, like I said, wants you to be included in your respective community. Therefore, multiple events are offered throughout the entire school year for every identity! Save the dates and get some more info about these events through the Multicultural Center webpage.
  3. Access your resources – A university dedicated to helping you find community means numerous resources are available to you as a student; these resources are great ways to get connected with your community through involvements, programs and just general support! Check out all the ways Ohio State supports diversity initiatives and resources on campus.

BEING ISOLATED

“No one here looks like me.”

Perhaps you’ve thought this exact thing at an event for your major, through involvement with something else, or just sitting in class. I know how it is, I’ve experienced it myself. It’s a bit daunting to just look around and notice that. Even being a Peer Leader, where there are 28 of us, it’s the same story. I’ve had many talks about being and feeling isolated, and although I’m probably not much older than you, I do have some words of wisdom and encouragement that I want to share.

Be confident in yourself and your identity. If you stand out, you might as well stand out to the best of your ability. Use that as leverage to break stereotypes (which exist, unfortunately), be a role model, and represent your community in the best way possible.

If this post really spoke to you, go check out those links! Thank you for reading!

Deciphering Dining at Ohio State

Now that you’ve had a few weeks under your belt as a first-year student at Ohio State, hopefully, you’ve used your meal plan at least once or twice.

Have you finally cracked the code to the seemingly overwhelming mess of dining dollars, BuckID cash, swipes, and visit exchanges? Have you discovered the perfect way to use your swipes and dollars each week?

No? Still confused? Don’t worry, I like to consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to budgeting and dietary needs, but even I had trouble understanding at first. Luckily for you, I’m here to show you what I wish I had known dining at Ohio State throughout my first year.

First, the Basics: Dining Dollars, BuckID Cash, and Swipes

  • Dining Dollars can be used at any student dining services locations. They are intended to give you added flexibility in what you eat and where. By using dining dollars you get a 35% discount on your purchase. Even better, they roll over every semester you are enrolled.
  • BuckID Cash can be used at any merchant that accepts BuckID both on and off-campus. This is not just restricted to food purchases. Use your ‘Ohio State’ app to look at all the available merchants.
  • Swipes (all-you-care-to-eat visits) give you access to any of the three Traditions Dining locations (Scott, Morrill, and Kennedy).
  • Visit exchanges involve exchanging a swipe for a monetary amount. At most dining locations, it is $8 to one swipe, but at C-Stores it is $5 to one swipe. For example, if I were to spend $7.50 at Union Market, instead of using Dining Dollars or BuckID cash, I could use one swipe to pay.

Now that you know what each component of a plan is, how do you choose which plan is best for you? Gray 10, Scarlet 14, or Unlimited? 

  • Gray 10, at $2,025, will give you 10 swipes each week, $200 Dining Dollars, and $150 BuckID cash.
  • Scarlet 14, at $2,412, will give you 14 swipes each week, $200 Dining Dollars, and $150 BuckID cash.
  • Unlimited, at $1,976, will give you unlimited swipes to any Traditions locations, and $100 Dining Dollars.

When I was first deciding my meal plan, I scoffed at Gray 10, thinking that it could never feed me, so I chose Scarlet 14. A few weeks into the semester, I found myself routinely having at least seven swipes left at the end of each week. So, in my second semester, I decided to switch to Gray 10, which was much more suitable for my daily intake. The meal plan that will work best for you is just that – the meal plan that will work best for you. If you choose a meal plan you’re unsatisfied with, there is a grace period each semester where you can change it – you can’t drop down to a less expensive meal plan after the second Friday of the term, but you can always bump up to a bigger plan at any time.

Alright, you’ve learned about and chosen your meal plan, and now you’re absolutely dying to know what my top 3 dining locations are, right? 

  1. The MarketPlace on Neil. In my opinion, it has the best and most versatile menu. Anything from breakfast sandwiches and coffee to sushi to oven-fired pizza.
  2. Sloopy’s Diner. If you’re craving some late-night classic diner food, Sloopy’s has got you covered.
  3. Courtside Cafe. Located in the RPAC, if you’re looking for some versatile, healthier options after a workout (or anytime), this is your best bet!

Okay, but what about dietary restrictions?

Many students at Ohio State must navigate the dining services with dietary restrictions! Although common allergies and dietary preferences are posted on menus and in Traditions, in my opinion, the best way to view ingredients is to use NetNutrition. This web tool allows you to view updated menus, nutritional facts, and filter by allergies and dietary preferences.

Struggling to find balance or what works best for you nutritionally? 

As important as it is to simply understand dining plans, it’s also important to take care of yourself. If you feel like you need some additional guidance as far as meals and eating on-campus, the best advice I could possibly give is to check out the Student Wellness Center in the RPAC. They offer free, personalized nutritional education and coaching.

Hopefully, you’ve now mastered dining at Ohio State, and if not, trust that you will soon! It’s confusing, it takes time, and it takes practice. Luckily, you get to practice multiple times a day.

Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and as always, Go Bucks!

7 Ways to Have a Healthy Roommate Relationship

SET SOME GROUND RULES

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One of the essential aspects of a healthy roommate relationship is setting up your roommate agreement at the beginning of the semester to the way you want the year to go. The roommate agreement is your chance to set rules in your room but also to learn about what your roommate expects of you. Be flexible but also firm with what you know will make you uncomfortable.

CLEAN UP YOUR AREA AND AFTER YOURSELF

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This one is pretty basic. I mean, if you make a mess of your room and your roommate likes things clean, there’s going to be conflict. The best way to get over fights with your roommate about cleanliness is to never have them at all. You are now responsible for your own space, so clean it up!!

RESPECT THEIR PRIVACY

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Depending on what your roommates’ beliefs or personal preferences are, privacy is something that is important when it comes to sharing a living space. Ask the awkward questions early, like “can we change in front of each other?”, “do you want me to ask before using your stuff?” or “what food can we share?” 

TRY TO LEARN THEIR INTERESTS AND BOND

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So your roommate probably isn’t going to be your best friend (I mean they might be, but that’s just the luck of the draw). Learn their interests and what classes they are taking so it’s not just small talk about the weather every day. That way, you can develop your room as a friendly space as well as a living area.

RESPECT THEIR SLEEP AND STUDY HABITS

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If you and your roommate are waking up for classes at different times, sometimes sleep can become an issue. My advice is to keep a semi-quiet alarm (but one that can still wake you up) and to be quiet when getting ready in the morning, to not disturb your roommate. Also, at night, if one of you has an early class, try to respect that by having lights out and not playing music to disturb them while they try to sleep, as they should do the same for you. Also, in terms of studying, don’t be afraid to ask for them to put on headphones for their music so you can study; people are reasonable as long as you ask nicely

DISCUSS THE “GUEST” ISSUE

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Okay, here’s the reality: people sometimes have “guests” stay over. Whether they are a boyfriend/girlfriend, a not-so-serious coupling, or just a one-night stand, this happens. Make sure you discuss with your roommate about who you believe you will be bringing to the room before you bring them, and how often. Also discuss the times they aren’t allowed. Be upfront and respectful of how they may choose to live their life, as they will respect your choices as well. 

COMMUNICATE

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If I could give just one piece of advice it would be this. The reason roommates fight is because something small happens, like someone not taking out the trash and you let it boil for three months and then explode at them for not doing their part, when they had no idea you were upset. SAY THINGS EARLY!! Tell your roommate what bothers you and offer solutions and compromises EARLY

So, what other things do you think are important for maintaining a healthy roommate relationship? Comment below!!

 

That Wasn’t What I Expected.

As my time as Peer Leader comes to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what my journey has been like. I was hired as a Peer Leader in April of 2016 and I have been a Peer Leader for the new first year students of 2016 and 2017. When I applied for this job, I was looking for a place where I could share my experiences with students who were experiencing first year transitions. I found exactly that: the platform to support new first year students who were in need of help during their first year at Ohio State. What I hadn’t expected were the ways that I have grown and the lessons that I have learned along the way. I thought I was taking a job where I punched the clock in and out of work and that my experience would be boxed into that time. My role as a Peer Leader has significantly influenced me over the last two years.

There are two things that I have learned from this job that I want to share: you can find community where you aren’t looking for it and everyone’s story is valuable.

I never pictured myself being friends with my coworkers — I had already found community and I didn’t feel a need for more friends. Throughout my first year as a Peer Leader, I did not invest in time outside of work with my fellow Peer Leaders. At the end that year I felt like I had missed an opportunity to know my coworkers. I was excited to correct my attitude for my second year as a Peer Leader. With the mindset that I should invest time in developing relationships with my coworkers, I began to find community in the same place that I wasn’t looking for it one year ago. Being a Peer Leader soon became more of a community to me than a job. I was more excited to be at work because I knew my coworkers on a personal level and I was more inclined to ask them for help and share ideas.

Being a Peer Leader taught me that I didn’t know how to listen to other people. That sounds a bit weird, but trust me, I was bad at listening to others. Have you ever talked to someone who always takes what you share with them (bad news, good news, etc.) and makes it about themselves? That was me, and I didn’t even know it. Some of the training for Peer Leaders included active and reflective listening. I have grown better at listening and I have started to intentionally listen to my friends, coworkers, and classmates. Learning how to listen has helped me discover that every individual has a story. Being able to hear others’ stories has shown me how people view the world and has ultimately helped me to love other people well. I have found it is easier to enjoy being around people when you have spent time listening to them and trying to understand their story. I have gotten to see the depth and individuality within people by taking time to listen to them.

For me being a Peer Leader turned out to be a great learning experience when I had previously viewed it as a way to guide and teach other people. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much from being a Peer Leader. I encourage you to step into places where you can learn from others. It is valuable to be around people who challenge your ideas so you can reflect on them. A learning experience like this doesn’t have to be a job; maybe it is through a student org you join, a place you volunteer, or a class you take. We tend to challenge ourselves academically, let’s challenge ourselves in a new way by going places and having experiences that aren’t where we are most comfortable – we might learn some impactful lessons.

Appreciating the Journey

“Yeah, we’ve made it this far. And you know we’ve got your back, through the good and the bad.”

 

The lyrics come from one of my favorite songs. I’ve played and replayed it so many times this year, it probably deserves its own Spotify playlist. Hearing it always encouraged me and lifted my spirit during stressful times. This song reminded me to take a moment to appreciate the fact that (through the good and the bad) I’m no longer where I started. I’ve taken a journey, where I’ve grown, learned and changed along the way.

Now that we’re fast approaching the end of the school year, you might be scrambling to prepare for your finals, writing these last few papers and trying to finalize what’s next for you in terms of summer plans. It’s so easy to forget to enjoy this one big truth: You’ve made it this far!

You’re just a few weeks away from finishing your very first year at Ohio State! That is a significant and very special accomplishment and it’s okay to feel proud of yourself. I’m proud of you and I know that our entire Ohio State community is proud of you. You’ve faced all kinds of new difficulties, stresses and hardships this year, from financial, to emotional to physical, but you persevered. That is amazing and you are amazing!

It’s also okay if your first year wasn’t absolutely what you imagined it was going to be. All the steps you’ve taken and all the decisions you’ve made up until now have allowed you to get to this point! Whether your first year has been great or on the rough-side,  know that you matter. You’re more than your grades and achievements and the fact that you are here is something to be very proud of.

As we come to the end of the school year, and you start reflecting on how far you’ve come, here a few things to remember:

1. Keep an Open Mind about your Major/Career

If you weren’t certain about your major this year, or if you’re still considering changing majors for next year, this is completely normal. It took me until the beginning of my junior year to find the right major for me, and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have panned out. Keep searching, keep asking questions and keep an open mind! Everything does not have to be decided within your first year.

2. Consider What You’d Like to Improve on for Next Year

Would you like to become more efficient in managing your time?  Be a little less or more involved on campus? Improve your study habits? Consider how this year went as you reflect. Think about how that reflection can possibly turn into goals for next year, for example—making sure to go to the fall involvement fair, reaching out to professors early on and using a planner to keep all your classwork and notes organized.

3.  Give Thanks

Take a little time to say thank you to those who have helped you during your first year here. That could be a great group of friends, family, roommates, floormates, your RA, a professor, a commuter liaison and more. It’s never corny to write a thank-you note! Showing gratitude goes a long way and it will mean a lot to those who receive it!

4. Get Rest

Think of the summer ahead as an opportunity to rest, rejuvenate and take time for the things that are important to you. No matter where you’re going this summer, or what your plans are–be sure to take some time to relax and enjoy the season!

Remember, you made it this far! I hope that in the busyness of this season, you can take some time to really let that sink in and appreciate all that your first year has been. Congratulations and keep going! We believe in you, I believe in you and your fellow Buckeyes believe in you!

“And you know, we’ve got your back, through the good and the bad.”

It Is Never Too Late To Follow Your Passion

This time last year, I was a freshman in the Engineering Undeclared program at Ohio State.  I was struggling to keep up with my peers in my classes and not really enjoying the material.  By the end of my second semester here, my GPA was suffering, and so was I. I was exhausted from trying so hard to keep up on homework that I was not interested in for a major that was not making me happy, but I refused to quit because I told myself that I was going to be an engineer.  I was committed to getting my degree in engineering with a focus on humanitarian engineering. I was going to help provide appropriate technology to the developing world and to under-served parts of the United States. I repeated this every time I was asked that dreaded question, “what do you want to do with your life?”  I had it all planned out; it sounded great and my family was proud of me, yet it never really felt right.

Then, this past summer, I began to change my path.  I have always known that I have a passion for people – this was a huge part of why I had decided to go into humanitarian engineering – but I had always thought of this passion as something that I could pursue later in life rather than a career path.  It was not until summer orientation while I was working as a Peer Leader that I began to see that working with people was something that I needed to do. To me, being able to make an impact on someone else’s life was the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced.  

By the time school started again in the fall, I had completely changed my schedule.  I was going to be a Public Affairs major with a focus on engineering because I was afraid to completely change my track.  I was scared to change my direction from something I was so confident in to something that I knew so little about. I knew that engineering was not right for me, but I did not know if Public Affairs was or what I would do with it.  I had one foot in the door and one foot out. My family did not help in this way. I was about to take a leap, and their lack of support made it even scarier.

It was not until just last week that I found my way.  As a Peer Leader, one of the things that I have been the most adamant about has been mental health.  It is one of the things that I care the most about both personally and professionally. I decided to stop ignoring the pull that I have been feel from the topic.  I decided to pick up a minor in Clinical Psychology & Individual Differences and focus my career on policy relating to mental health. This change was scary for me, but since making the decision, I could not be more happy.  

 

If this has hit home for you, I would say one thing: be honest with yourself.  Only you know what makes you happy. Change can be scary and uncertainty can be even worse, but I believe that challenging ourselves in this way is how we grow as people.  I encourage you to reach out to your academic advisor, your Peer Leader, your RA, a friend, a family member, or anyone else that you trust, and talk about it. Sometimes it takes time to understand where your passion is pulling you, but it is is never too late to follow it.

A New Perspective

For those of you who do not know, The Ohio State University has a mission, vision, set of values and core goals. At Ohio State, we value excellence, diversity in people and of ideas, inclusion, access and affordability, innovation, collaboration and multidisciplinary endeavor, and integrity. Undoubtedly, these values are important. However, I never had a first-hand experience to allow me to see why these values were important to me personally. I am happy to now say after going on my first Buck-I-SERV trip, I feel more connected than ever to these university values.

This past spring break, I went to Appalachia Ohio in a place called Vinton County with five fellow Buckeyes to serve. Although we were there to teach about college access, I think I was the one who ended up learning the most. Growing up in a suburb of Columbus, I did not know what to expect going to one of the most rural parts of Columbus. However, I know that I never expected to be enlightened so much by the people that I met and by the beauty of Appalachia Ohio. In my week in Vinton county, we worked with elementary, middle, and high school kids. Through various activities, we were there to promote the idea of pursuing something after high school, whether it be a 4-year college or a technical school.

In my time there, I saw many hardships. I talked to the teachers who told me about the lack of support in many of the households the kids were raised in. I heard some disappointing and tragic stories. It is easy to focus on the bad, but I want to focus on the good, and in my time in Vinton County, I saw so much good. I saw the investment of individuals at the Ohio State Extension Office working to make sure children could participate in engaging programs after school. I met students who had such a strong commitment and pride associated with their family, which was admirable to see. I met a high school English teacher, who is also a retired lawyer. She realized the legal system could not help the community, so she became a teacher. It was inspirational to see how she would could motivate any and all students. She valued each student’s uniqueness and believed that they could be great, even when they did not believe this themselves.

Coming from a fairly privileged background, it is easy for me to think that places like the inner-city and rural Ohio are in need of “fixing” and do not have much to offer. Yet, the reality is, there is a lot that I have learned and can learn by exposing myself to such communities. I have learned to better value the diversity of experience. I have learned the importance of having a strengths-based perspective, which is focusing on others’ abilities, talents, and resources, rather than others’ problems and deficits. I have learned and seen the impact of genuine dedication and investment towards a community. I am thankful to Ohio State and Buck-I-SERV for allowing me the opportunity to widen my perspective and feel better connected to the values that we hold dear as Buckeyes.

 

Perfectionism as a First-Year Student

Reflecting on my first year at Ohio State, I have very little negative things to say about my experience. As a theatre major I added three credits to my resume, and I made it into my second major, journalism. I even finished the year with a 4.0 GPA. I was selected to be in a black male leadership round-table, and I became an FYE Peer Leader. While all of these things appear to be wonderful accomplishments, which they are, they came at a price. These accomplishments were in part fueled by my perfectionism, and eventual fed my perfectionism.

Many people when deeming themselves perfectionist the term usually has more of a positive connotation. Perfectionism often breeds hard workers, good work, and often to an extent, good leaders. However, perfectionism can be dangerous to one’s wellbeing. I know personally, I was willing to sacrifice my mental, emotional, and especially my physical health to accomplish my goals. If a job needed to be done it would get done, regardless of what I ate or how much sleep I got. My first semester, I did not care to reach out and meet new friends or even develop close relationships with my roommates. I wanted to be excellent in my work, that is what was important.

Indeed, one does come to college to get an education first, but that is not all that matters. I truly believe people cannot be their best selves without considering their overall well being. Eventually this would take a toll on how I felt, and by the time a break approached it would often become very difficult to follow through with my work. However, maintaining greater attention toward my health, rather than my desire for excellence, could have made my first year a much more enjoyable experience. I found this out my second-year. When I began to loosen my obsession on perfection and payed closer attention to my health, I saw things change. I don’t just operate throughout my life. I enjoy my life.

I write this to make people aware of the students who work really hard and seem fine but may be on an unhealthy path. If you are reading this or know someone like this, I hope you have the courage to do one of the following actions: reflect on your practices and make changes where you see fit or talk with your friend or student just to make sure they are maintaining a healthy well being. Wellness is just as important, if not more important than excellence.