How asking for help is like ordering a pizza

If I spoke with your mom over the summer, chances are good that if she asked what advice I had for her to help you prepare for college life, my answer made me seem like a crazy person.

Make her call and order the pizza.

It didn’t have to be pizza–call and schedule your own cleaning with the dentist, schedule a doctor’s appointment, ask the folks at the gym how to use a piece of equipment you’ve not used before, whatever. The idea is that students need to get practice in asking someone for help and parents need practice in letting that happen without stepping in to do it themselves.

So now that you’re here–and since I don’t know how often you’re ordering pizza–let’s work together to visualize how this might look in a few different settings.

You have the sniffles

Okay…so it’s worse than just the sniffles…you know you’re running a fever because your mom packed a thermometer in your bathroom kit before you moved in. In addition to the self-diagnosis tools on its website, the Wilce Student Health Center also provides an advice nurse and has great directions for how to schedule an appointment (you can do that over the phone, online or in person). If you do need to head over to their location on Millikin, be sure to bring a copy of your insurance card and an ID, along with a way to pay your co-pay!


You are struggling with your calculus homework

You don’t have to rely on your neighbor down the hall, but he may want to walk with you over to the evening tutor room at the 18th Avenue Library. While faculty office hours are wonderful, we know that sometimes the first step is going to get help from the peer tutors at the Math/Stats Learning Center. The Center does a great job about posting online tutorials, workshops and exam reviews on their website, but there are real live people who can offer assistance as you work on your homework in the daytime and evening tutor rooms.

Go with questions that you have partially figured out to see where you went wrong.

Go with questions that you have already figured out to make certain that you got them right.

You may find that it’s just a great habit to get into to use that hour between classes to head straight over to Cockins Hall and sit down in the tutor room while you work on your homework instead of waiting until after the Tonight Show monologue to get started. Use those daytime hours for school work and those nighttime hours for sleep!


It’s the end of week four and you feel like you’ve not met anyone since classes started

I know how you feel–there was the rush of all things “new” during welcome week and you thought it would never end, so you didn’t really pay attention to all of those emails about student org meetings or to the names of the women down the hall. Now you feel like that opportunity is lost forever. It isn’t.

Check out the student organization directory, grab your Google calendar and plan on attending a meeting for a student organization. When you go, don’t just sit by the door and look for an opportunity to leave at the first hint that someone might talk to you. Walk in, find someone at the front of the room, introduce yourself and tell them what first interested you in the Electronic Music Club or the Game Creation Club. If you have 3-4 questions that you feel comfortable asking someone and that you would be happy to answer, too, you have the start of a great conversation!

Extra bonus points if you invite the girls down the hall to go with you–maybe you’ll overhear their introductions and remember their names this time!

By now, you’ve probably thought of 101 questions to ask and are ready to take the plunge. Not sure where to direct your inquiries? You can start with your RA, the staff at Commuter Student Engagement, or even FYE at 614.292.3324 or Want to know how to start a conversation with your academic advisor about course selection for spring semester? Curious about what you need to think about before walking into the Undergraduate Research Office?  Let us know–we’ll be happy to help!

Now that this is posted, I may need to get my 6th grader to read this. It’s time to schedule the next round of appointments at the orthodontist…

Research — not just something done by faculty

I’m a science fair girl. I come from a science fair family. The site of a tri-fold display board brings back fond memories of projects on biorhythms and on dementia and on the impact of environment on memory recall. These are projects that won awards at the state science day, people!

The projects I remember from those bygone days are nothing compared to the sophisticated research on display annually at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum – the 2014 edition to be held on March 26 at the RPAC. The research happening everyday on campus – the discovery of new knowledge – is pretty impressive, even more so when we know that there are many, many undergraduate students who are contributing to and leading research efforts of their own. And that’s what we get to see at the Denman.

The Denman participants will present their research via a poster – and not like what you can find at the tent poster sales at the beginning of the school year:

They also present their findings orally to a pair of faculty judges. Participants are selected based on their abstract submissions, as the Denman is limited to only 550 projects. Recently, I had a chance to catch up with a student who I haven’t spoken with in a while, and he was gushing – gushing – about the three research projects with which he’s been involved in the last year. Three. He started his involvement in a professor’s lab as a first-year student. It’s never too early. And he’s not even presenting this year at the Denman – that’s how much great work  is happening here!

As you walk through the display floor, you never know what kinds of projects you’ll see. Some of the winners last year include projects titled:

  • Calculating Susceptibility from Local Field Inhomogeneities for Applications in Multiple Sclerosis Studies
  • Effect of Early Treadmill Training on Blood-Spinal Cord Barrier Permeability after Spinal Cord Injury in Mice
  • Biochemical Characterization of 6-phospho-β-glucosidases to Gain Insights into Cellobiose Utilization by Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052

I don’t know about you, but I love an intimidating title, not to mention the actual research behind it — for those of you wondering, Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 is “a saccharolytic, strictly anaerobic, mesophylic, motile, rod-shaped bacteria with oval, sub-terminal spores.”

Fortunately for me, the projects aren’t all in what we used to call the hard sciences. There are also the categories of business, arts, and humanities. Some winners last year in these categories included:

  • Let’s Talk Money: Impulsivity, Social Influence and Consumers’ Saving Behavior
  • Wyrd: The Woes of Postmodernity
  • Corruption and International Aid Allocation: A Complex Dance

So, if you find yourself inspired to find out what fascinating work your fellow students are doing, check out the Denman. I’ll be the one trying to look 20 years younger and setting up the card-table.  


FERPA, FAFSA and Finances: Oh, my!

Who doesn’t like a little alliteration (and Wizard of Oz homage)?  And, let’s face it, when it comes to matters of doing business at Ohio State, we’ll take anything that can make it appealing!  However, it’s a good midway point in the year to pay attention to business. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to suit up for this conversation.


I’m sure you all remember from your orientation program that we introduced the hottest acronym ever to hit the federal law books: FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99 for those of us nerdy enough to want to read it in its original codified glory).  FERPA basically instructs what, when and with whom Ohio State can share information about students and their records.  For you, that means that we can’t share anything about you other than directory information with anyone, unless you give us permission to do so.  That means that when your mom or your dad or your great aunt Betty calls to check to see if your bill has been paid, we can’t tell them unless you specifically tell us it’s okay.  Believe me when I say that your dad can get quite upset when he’s been on hold for 20 minutes only to be told that we can’t answer his questions because you didn’t complete the student information release like he’s asked you to do a million times.

For his sake – and ours – complete the release form.  You can control what information we share and with whom – and it’s relatively simple.  You can sign off on the release of academic information or account information or financial aid information – or any combination of the three.  (Three – it’s the magic number.)

Simply follow the instructions found on the Student Service Center website.


Yet another amazing acronym – FAFSA.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) needs to be filed annually in order to determine your financial aid eligibility for a number of need-based programs for next academic year (Summer 2014-Spring 2015).  At Ohio State, we expect you to file your FAFSA by February 15 each year for priority consideration.  It’s important to apply by that date, even if you and your family will need to estimate income information because your 2013 taxes aren’t complete yet.  There’s also a PIN number involved, so don’t wait until the last minute in case you need to get that reset – it will take a few days!  And, no, it’s not that kind of pinsetter.


I know I just glossed over the word in the FAFSA section, but another aspect of tending to your finances as a college student is doing your taxes.  Even though we’re months away from the April 15 deadline, ‘tis the season.  Something that you’ve probably not had to include on your taxes in the past is your financial aid.  You should note that any amount of a scholarship, fellowship or grant that exceeds the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books and required supplies will be considered taxable income and is subject to federal tax.

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard when it comes to finances in college is pretty profound: Live like a student now, so you don’t have to after graduation.  The translation?  Live way within your means now – learn to live on the cheap and within a budget.  Want some ideas on how to create a budget, how to start building your credit score or even start building an investment portfolio?  Ohio State students can access resources on these topics and others by reaching out to the Student Wellness Center.  It’s okay: there are ways to live on a budget and not be entirely dependent on Ramen…

I could go on for days about other things to keep in mind when doing business with the university, but all good things – including this post – must come to an end.