6 Tips on How to Stay Productive During the Quarantine

First, I want to say that this circumstance is unfortunate. Although none of us could have predicted this, I am hopeful that a solution to COVID-19 is soon approaching. If you are anything like me, these have been stressful times. Whether you were unexpectedly uprooted from your residence hall, forced to move back home, lost your job, or were unsure how your academics would transfer with online classes, I can relate. I want to emphasize: you are NOT alone. As unfortunate as this situation is, there are ways to grasp a sense of “normal” during these abnormal times. Below are 6 tips I have to help you get through this unique time.

MAINTAIN A SCHEDULE

Although many classes have transitioned to online platform–and that includes voice-annotated PowerPoints–I encourage you to review the slides during your normal scheduled time for class. This will help create structure and routine in your schedule, which will aid in greater productivity.

FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

It can be challenging to stay on top of our academics when there is not a professor directly supervising our actions. For this reason, reach out to a close friend who you want to work with and keep each other accountable so that you both are staying on track academically.

REACH OUT TO PROFESSORS FOR HELP

Although we cannot go into office hours in person, instructors should still be holding virtual office hours. I encourage you to take advantage of this resource. It can be challenging to fully grasp a concept taught online and not every class can transfer as smoothly to the virtual platform, so reaching out to professors and taking advantage of virtual office hours will help you stay on course.

GET EXERCISE

Exercise is a great way at relieving stress, which would do us all well during these stressful and uncertain times. Even though the gyms are closed, that does not have to get in the way of our physical and mental well-being. The weather is getting nicer, so take advantage! Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. I also recommend finding some fitness videos that you can follow along in the comfort of your home.

PICK UP A NEW HOBBY

The days can go by slow during the quarantine. Although we have classes, there still seems to be lots of free time. To keep your brain stimulated and avoid too much time on social media, try picking up a new hobby. Whether that means teaching yourself a new language, learning a new skill, or reading a book you did not have time to in the past, just make sure it is something exciting for you!

HAVE ZOOM MEETINGS WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Since we all should be practicing social distancing, that limits what we can do for fun. Think about scheduling Zoom meetings with your friends where y’all can talk about your days and catch up. Talking to other people will help us all not feel so alone in this situation.

We all must do what we can to stay busy during these times. Stay healthy and safe and reach out to additional campus resources if need be.

Bella

Back to the Basics: the 3 Pillars

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you most likely have experienced some time here at Ohio State and have recognized the fact that it can be difficult to take care of yourself. It’s okay, a majority of college students feel the same way. I have gone through my own situations where I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I should have been. However, I believe taking care of yourself is a process. For processes, it’s more beneficial to have a plan. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide that you want to take care of yourself better then have it immediately happen, unfortunately. That’s why I’m here to hopefully give you some insight on how to start this process; it all starts with taking care of the basics of making sure you’re healthy.

Sleep

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you most likely have experienced a night with like…somewhere between 5-6 hours of sleep. Maybe (hopefully not) less. Those coffees and Monsters on campus can only help so much.

Many resources state that for us adults, 7-9 hours is a healthy amount of sleep per night. If you make getting less a routine, you may start feeling lack-of-rest effects like a loss in alertness, a loss in ability to remember/process info, an increase in moodiness, and of course a decrease in energy.

Sleep, like classes or that meeting for the group you’re in, can simply be a scheduled time block. Fitting sleep into your routines/calendars and then working out your plans for studying and socializing around it will hold you accountable and hopefully keep you on track.

As for naps, if that’s something you can fit into your schedule, it’s best to avoid naps over 60-90 minutes to avoid sleep inertia (grogginess), while still gaining the rejuvenation effects. The optimal time is midday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., so that way your night schedule isn’t messed up!

Diet

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you most likely have experienced a questionable diet choice at some point. Whether it was forgetting to eat for 14 hours or downing 3-4 Buckeye Donuts, most of us students have done something that probably wasn’t for the better.

Diets are tricky…unlike sleep, there is no magic diet that everyone should follow because everyone is built differently, has different needs, and different goals/values. However there are a few “avoidables” that can benefit everyone’s physical health:

  • Greasy/Fried foods
  • Excessively sugary foods or drinks (there IS a difference between natural sugars and added sugars)
  • Excessively salty foods
  • Highly-processed foods

Honestly, I could go into way more depth and detail with this section, but to keep you from getting bored, I’m going to stop it there. Basically, it is pretty much known if something is unhealthy. Slight substitutions will go a long way towards benefiting your physical health and energy. Have any questions about on-campus food or want some more info? Visit the University Dining website or contact someone within the Student Wellness Center (they do a lot with nutrition/diet counseling and education – it’s free, too!)

Other basics tips?

  • Try to eat until you’re satisfied, rather than full.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods, which provides you with a broader intake of nutrients and keeps you from getting bored!
  • DRINK WATER. It is essential. The benefits would be a whole other section. There are a bunch of different recommendations as to how much you should be drinking, but I’ll let you research that on your own (everyone is different, like I said). Although I do recommend a glass of water every morning to kick-start your day.
  • If you’re struggling to find time to eat, do the same thing as sleep and establish time blocks within your schedule!
  • Add some vegetables.

Exercise

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you know of the large campus we have here at Ohio State and all its gyms it has to offer. Have you taken advantage?

Like diets, everyone’s needs are a little bit different, especially with regards to goals. The general “rule” is that it’s considered healthy to partake in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. As students, it’s almost easy to have exercise take a backseat in priorities. Most of our time with academics is spent sitting in classrooms and then sitting or laying down to study.. then, to add to it, when we’re finished up, we just want to relax.

However, by incorporating physical activity into our routine (whether that be aerobic activity or strength training) we can combat the negative health effects of all of our sitting.

Exercise, along with all of its benefits, will boost your moods and energy overall while reducing health risks. As a student, we need as much of those benefits as we can get. The good thing about exercise is that there are so many different types and opportunities on campus. The gyms here also have very broad hours, meaning you can incorporate a full workout or a quick sweat almost anytime during the day! Check out the times (and more) at https://recsports.osu.edu/facilities.

It all starts with…

This article was by no means professional advice, but rather general advice from a fellow college student. I’m not an expert in sleep, diets, or exercise. I also want you to know that I sometimes fall short of taking care of myself in these three basic areas. There have been times where I’ve gone to classes with 5 hours of sleep. There have been times where I have eaten 2 Mirror Lake meals. There have been times where I decided to play 2K instead of going to hit back/bicep day. I am in no way asking you to get 9 hours of sleep a night, skip out on every Snickers bar, or go deadlift 500 pounds. I am simply just trying to get you thinking about bettering yourself – these pillars are crucial for that.

The thing is, it all starts with you. Building goals and then proceeding to build commitment to those. Self-responsibility and motivation are key, but practicing consistency in these areas is almost even more important and will benefit you more in the long run.

Oh yeah, and make your bed every morning. I have to work on that too.

Extra Note: Are you or someone you know struggling with having food to eat? Ohio State has food pantries for students.

Academic Coaching: The Key to Academic Success

If you’re anything like I was as a freshman, your first semester might not have gone how you expected. It happens to most first years; the first semester is filled with the excitement and stress of simply adjusting to a college lifestyle–learning where to eat, meeting new people, learning the campus, etc.–and for many, it was the first time that academics have been a challenge.

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So, maybe the first semester didn’t go as you planned, but you’re optimistic that you’re going to turn everything around and ace all of your classes and be the perfect student. You have it all figured out: you’re going to study every day, complete all your homework on time, pass your midterms, work out daily, join a club, get a job, and get 8 hours of sleep. Totally possible, right?

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Without any help, unlikely. But, with a little help from the team of Academic Coaches at the Dennis Learning Center, I think you could get pretty close. Here’s what to expect from Academic Coaching and why I believe it is one of the most underrated, underused, and most valuable resources Ohio State offers its students.

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Academic Coaching

  • Schedule online to have your own, free, personal, 1:1 hour-long appointment with a trained Academic Coach. In this meeting, you will discuss with your coach any struggles you are having with school/life, including but not limited to: time management, note-taking, test-taking strategies, testing anxiety, organization, motivation, procrastination, studying, and memorization. Your coach will help develop a personalized plan and provide you with strategies to combat these issues.
  • Form a connection with your coach and keep coming back weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to check in on the progress you are making and to continue learning more about what works for you as a student.
  • From my experience with Academic Coaching, I have become a more productive, organized, and relaxed person. I used to stress about how much I had to do and felt like I had no time, but once I was able to sit down with a coach and go through my classes, responsibilities, and schedule, I was able to regain control and now have more time than ever.

Workshops

  • Workshops are held all over campus throughout the year and might even be happening in your residence hall! These workshops include topics on stress management, note-taking, organization, and more.
  • While the workshops are very helpful, I encourage you to schedule an appointment after attending a workshop to get the most benefit!

Courses

  • You can even enroll in a 3-credit course to improve and develop yourself as a student. Choose from a list of classes emphasizing learning strategies, motivation, time management, self-regulated learning, success strategies for international students, and more.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how truly beneficial the Dennis Learning Center can be for your success not only at Ohio State, but also personally and professionally. Having these foundations of self-regulation, accountability, organization, and time management are crucial for success, and there’s no harm in taking advantage of your resources. Try it out, you won’t regret it!

If you’d rather explore Academic Coaching and the resources in the Dennis Learning Center yourself, schedule an appointment, or learn more, check out their comprehensive website on all of the services they have to offer online on The Dennis Learning Center website.

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Shoot Your Shot for Special Scholarships

Do you like the sound of free money? February 1 is right around the corner, which means we’re almost wrapping up scholarship application season! I’m a recipient of one of the hundreds of Special Scholarships, specifically the Stadium Scholarship. I know there can be a lot of confusing documents with 20+ pages about finances that are hard to navigate. Let’s skip all of that and just hit the who, what, where, when, and why.

WHO You, Ohio State, and the government are all pretty closely related for the Special Scholarships Application. To be a candidate for any of the scholarships, you must have completed the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (also known as FAFSA), an application managed by the federal government, by February 1. Completing the FAFSA provides data for Ohio State to determine your financial aid package.

WHAT There are hundreds of scholarships to target specific eligibility ranges. The scholarships range from cooperative living scholarships like the Stadium Scholarship Program and the Alumae Scholarship Housing, to others that consider academic major, year in school, extracurricular activities, and heritage. Even though scholarships may look small on paper, over time they can add up, so check any boxes that apply to you. There’s no shame in wanting to save a couple dollars here and there!

The application does contain one essay prompt and a 300-word personal statement, so don’t wait until the night before. Try and have someone look at your essays, perhaps at the Writing Center or a trusted professor/upperclassmen who have applied before. The more eyes, the better!

WHERE The application for the Special Scholarships are all online. Be careful–it does time out after 20 minutes of inactivity, so try using Microsoft Word or Google Docs to type your personal statement and essay to copy over later.

WHEN The priority deadline for the Ohio State Special Scholarships Application is Saturday, February 1. This is the same day as the FAFSA deadline, so make sure you have both of those submitted by 11:59 p.m.

WHY There’s no hiding from the fact that college is extremely expensive for most of us. Even if the results don’t turn out the way you’d like them to, taking a shot in the dark is better then not trying at all. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, so why not go big? There are hundreds of scholarships out there waiting to be claimed by deserving students. So, brush the dust off that personal statements because it may make you some money!

Once you’ve completed your Special Scholarships Application, there are still plenty more out there. Review the directory of all the department level scholarships offered to students pursuing different degrees, from undergraduate all the way to medical school. Go out there and shoot your shot!

Good luck and save that money!

A Major Change

A lot of things can happen in the short months of fall semester during your first year of university. Everyone experiences growth in college and sometimes that transition as you build your identity can help you realize interests and passions that you didn’t have the chance to explore in the past. Sometimes those changes include a realization that your field of study isn’t in your field of interest. 

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If you are like me and already had doubts about your career path before entering college, you know the decision to change your major can be a long and stressful process. I started off as a biology major and psychology minor with the goal of one day becoming a doctor, embodying the quintessential pre-med student at Ohio State. Although I haven’t deviated from the health field and am now a neuroscience major on the pre-pharmacy track, my coursework and experiences my first year of college played a big role in helping me recognize my true passions. I researched a lot of majors for most of my first year, trying to figure out what connected to me the most. It took time, but I’m glad I didn’t rush my decision because eventually I found a major that supported my interests and aligned with the career path I wanted.

There isn’t an algorithm for choosing what major fits for you; sometimes it just takes you stepping back and thinking very basically about what you like. Take a few minutes to stop what you’re doing and ask yourself a series of questions; here are some examples:

What interests you?

What kind of future you see yourself having?

Are you attracted to a specific income?

Do you prefer to be in charge of your own work or do you prefer to work under someone else?

Do some self reflection and then take that information and create alternative paths you could see yourself having in college and beyond and see which one resonates with you the most. There is nothing wrong with being a biology student on the pre-med track if that is what truly interests you, but there are many different ways to enter the field of medicine without being a biology major. Although that might not be the case with some majors like, say, biomedical engineering, a lot of career paths don’t require one specific major to enter that field. My best piece of advice is first, figure out what career you would like to have, think about the different majors that can land you that career, then research each major to see what appeals to you the most. 

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If you don’t know where to start with career exploration, it’s okay because thankfully there are resources on campus to help with that. Career Counseling and Support Services can be a useful resource when it comes to thinking about jobs. Similarly, if you need help with exploring majors, University Exploration is something you might want to look into. Through this advising office you can explore different paths of education while getting the credits and classes you need to stay on track to graduate. You can meet with an Exploration advisor at any time, regardless of what your major is, and get help on figuring out what you want to study. The Internet is also an amazing tool when it comes to research and most majors at Ohio State have pages filled with information that will allow you to see the curriculum for specific majors as well as links for potential career paths. Your academic advisor is also a great starting point if you’re unsure where to begin. Although they might not have a vast knowledge of the other majors/colleges on campus, they will still be able to direct you to the resources that can help you. 

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Choosing or redeciding on a major can be a tedious process but it doesn’t have to be something you go through alone. I personally wish I used one of these resources earlier on because I probably could have saved myself a ton of stress and confusion. It’s okay if you don’t have your entire life figured out today. It’s also okay if you don’t know the exact career you want to have in the next 20 years, but it’s important that you at least recognize what careers have the potential to fulfill you and what careers you want to avoid at all costs. 

Best of luck!

If You’re Reading This, It’s Not Too Late

Congrats, you’ve made it through most of fall semester. The question is, do you know how to prepare for spring semester?

 

My first semester was two years ago, so I would be lying if I said I remembered exactly how I spent it. I do, however, remember feeling both relieved and anxious and I can confirm this because it’s exactly how I felt during winter break last year. It feels good to know you’ve accomplished something and you are one step closer to your next goal, but it’s scary to realize you don’t know what the future will bring. It’s hard not to worry about your progress, or think about how satisfied you are with your current work ethic, your major or just your life in general. My first semester, I spent more time focused on classes and personal problems than I did taking care of myself, which led to me forming some unhealthy coping mechanisms and being unhappy overall. Not to mention, I was considering changing my major and felt so lost about what I wanted to do. It was a difficult time, but I survived it. There is a way, however, to alleviate that stress and that’s by taking time to think about what you want to prepare for next semester and setting goals so you can do things differently in the future. 

There are a lot of different ways to set goals. My personal favorite is writing all of them down as a gigantic map in my bullet journal (it’s really chaotic). There are also more structured ways, like S.M.A.R.T. goal setting. However you choose to create your goals, make sure your goals are specific and include specific steps on how to achieve that goal and measure your progress on achieving that goal. An example of a goal you could set is getting into your desired major by a certain date.

And so, here are my tips for the best way to prepare for spring semester: 

Remember that you are the boss of your own education. If you were unsatisfied with your classes for autumn semester and are reconsidering your major, don’t feel pressured to stay in classes you don’t want to be in. Use this break to do some research and explore other majors and schedule to meet with an Exploration advisor or consider career counseling. It’s normal to be unsure or lost about what you want to do but it’s important that you address it and make efforts to figure it out.  

Transform your health. If you ate a lot of crappy food and/or didn’t work out in autumn semester, use this break to change that. Drink lots of water and take advantage of home-cooked meals if you aren’t staying on campus. Likewise, try a new recipe if you are sticking around. Maybe learn how to do some yoga. Use this time to improve your health, mentally and physically. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen victim to the “Freshman 15”, but believe me when I say it’s an exhausting way to live and not how you want to spend your first year of college.

Start a routine! Having a routine gives you small goals to accomplish throughout the day and you’ll feel better after each one. Over winter break, these goals don’t have to be “big”. For example, your routine could be getting out of bed by 11 a.m., eating breakfast, making your bed, working out and sleeping by 11 p.m. Creating and sticking to habits during the weeks you aren’t on campus will help you slide into routine when you get back on campus. It will help you manage your work without wasting time and give you time to take care of yourself.

Did you have a good support system in autumn semester? Winter break is the perfect time to reflect on the relationships you created over the last few months. It’s important that you have people on campus who support and uplift you. If the people you hang out with aren’t good influences and don’t encourage your growth, it might be time to distance yourself from them and seek better connections.

Get a planner, calendar, or journal and write down all important deadlines and exam dates at the start of the semester for each of your classes for the entire semester (based on your syllabi). This can include homework, readings, lab reports, essays, basically anything you could get assigned; you can do it during the first few weeks of classes and it will make you feel a lot more prepared later on.

You may have already realized this, but time goes by fast when you’re in college. You might feel exhausted after finals and find yourself wanting to not think about school for a few weeks, but pushing the thought away isn’t going to make the first day of classes come any later. When everything slows down, take time to do some self-reflection, I promise you’ll feel better when you do. Good luck!

Get Booked and Busy This Summer (On a Budget)

Scheduling windows are now open for the Spring semester, and maybe you’re also thinking about what your moves are going to be after Spring 2020. If you’re anything like my first-year self, you might not be itching to go immediately back to your hometown just yet. You may have realized just how many summer opportunities have piqued your interest.

Perhaps you want to study abroad, get an internship, or get some resume-worthy work experience and make some money. Whatever you want to do, the process for many summer 2020 opportunities looks similar and can begin as early as November 2019. No matter whether you know exactly what you want to do, or you’re completely clueless like I was, let’s break down 4 tips to be booked and busy on a budget this summer.

Get informed about what’s out there

There are people at this university who are getting paid to help you chase your bag! The Office of International Affairs hosts info sessions for every study abroad offered at Ohio State, including Global May programs which depart and return in the month of May (great if you have commitments during June and July). Additionally, the Honors and Scholars Center has a whole department dedicated to to helping Ohio State students land competitive government-funded fellowships, like the Critical Language Scholarship, the Truman Scholarship, and others. (The website is on the Honors and Scholars page, but these programs are open to all students!) For internships and summer jobs in Columbus, try looking on the Student Financial Aid job board or asking upperclassmen who have pursued opportunities similar to what you want to do, especially on-campus summer roles like being a Peer Leader, University Ambassador, etc. Get informed. Explore and see what’s out there. Google is free! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build, Don’t Force a Network:

Remember when your Peer Leader told you to go to office hours? This is part of the reason why. In one-on-one situations (including, but not only office hours), you can build relationships with people like TAs, professors, and work supervisors. Relationships with these people are important so that when you need letters of recommendation, they will have your back. My Acting class TA wrote for me my first letter of recommendation. While he only taught a GE course, we had a great relationship, so he knew me enough to write a unique and personal letter. Do your best to make a real connection instead of forcing one to happen. If you don’t have anyone who you would feel comfortable with asking for a recommendation letter yet, there’s no time like the present to start! My networking pro-tip if you don’t know what to say is to ask them about themselves. The best question: How did they get to this phase of their careers? If the two of you truly ~vibe~ then you’ll have someone who will want to help you when you need it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask, and You Shall Receive

Almost every application will require some sort of essay, personal statement, or resume. Program coordinators and upperclassmen who have pursued the same opportunity that you’re interested in will be able to get you the best scoop on how to make yourself look appealing on paper. They’ve done it before, so they’re the experts! Ask them all the questions, have them read your essays, and get all the help that you can while working on your applications for jobs, scholarships, and fellowships. To become a Peer Leader, I had not just one, but two past Peer Leaders review my essays. Though it took some time and effort – guess who got the job? The Writing Center also offers online and in-person resume writing, personal statement editing, and essay support. Take advantage of  the resources you’re paying for already! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Get the Bag

Now, all you have to do is submit your application. However it wouldn’t hurt to get a little extra cash for your next adventure. This may mean applying for the Special Scholarships Application to save money during the school year, or to apply for scholarships offered for research, living costs during internships, and study abroad. The Office of International Affairs website is where you can find a master list to dozens of Ohio State-only scholarships to help fund your experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding gratifying summer experiences is daunting. My goal is to help you achieve your goals without breaking the bank. I hope you all have wonderful, fulfilling, and amazing summer experiences while going and chasing your dreams (while still on a budget). Happy travels!

How to Survive College: Commuter Edition

I know from personal experience that being a commuter in college can be really hard. The lack of motivation to get up and drive to school, the stress of finding a parking spot, making genuine friends, and eating on campus (especially without a meal plan) are all things that you constantly think about. It’s not easy to make a campus as big as Ohio State feel like home, but thankfully resources like Off Campus and Commuter Student Services (OCCSS) exist to help commuters feel more comfortable.

What is OCCSS? 

The Off Campus and Commuter Student Services office exists to improve the quality of life for off-campus and commuter students. The office is located on the third floor of the Ohio Union, which is without a doubt the best place on campus for commuters. OCCSS provides a commuter kitchen, which is directly next to the Sigma Phi Epsilon Commuter Lounge on the third floor (you’ll have to visit the OCCSS office first to get access to it), and lockers at the Ohio Union and the Younkin Success Center. They can also help students find housing, roommates, and provide services like Rideshare and Carpool that allow students to share transportation to and from campus.

How can OCCSS make commuting easier? 

Eating on campus

Eating on campus as a commuter is difficult especially without a meal plan because it’s harder to manage how much you spend on food during the academic year. Like I said, the Ohio Union is a great spot for commuters because it has options like the Union Market, Sloopy’s and Woody’s. Plus, it’s located along High Street, which means even more tempting food options. If you have classes every day and spend long hours on campus, it’s really easy to eat out frequently and form unhealthy eating habits, which does not feel great. Packing and heating up food from home in the commuter kitchen saves a lot of money, doesn’t take much time to do and is much better for your health. Campus Dining also offers a commuter meal plan, which is good for eating on campus 3-5 times a week using funding that’s added your BuckID account. 

Staying on campus

Although you might not have a room on campus, you can still feel at home. In my first semester, I often went home as soon as my classes ended, and I didn’t spend my time effectively when I went home; because I also wasn’t involved with campus activities, it made me dread being here. If you can, try to avoid scheduling/driving to classes during rush hour traffic hours–trust me: you will waste a lot of time sitting in traffic and it’s really not worth it. Instead of going home at 5 p.m., just find something to do on campus, whether its eating dinner, going to an event or getting work done. My favorite thing about the Ohio Union are the lockers because you can store extra clothes, books you don’t want to carry around, snacks, a blanket, etc., and they are available to reserve at the beginning of every semester; this makes remaining on campus more manageable. The commuter lounge is also a great space to do homework, take a nap, mingle with other commuters or just eat lunch. 

Making Friends 

Unless most of the friends you had in high school conveniently moved to the same college as you, it can be a challenge establishing friendships as a commuter. The biggest struggle for me was being comfortable staying on campus after my classes were over, and finding campus involvement. OCCSS hosts events during the academic year like a Cornhole Tournament, roommate fairs, the Scarlet Warrior Challenge and the Off Campus Living Expo. They also have a commuter mentoring program for first-year commuters which pairs new students with a mentor and includes monthly group events on campus and in the Columbus area. There are also a ton of other organizations on campus in general–pick the one you are most interested in and try it out, you’ll thank yourself later.

Ultimately, what I want you to know is that commuting doesn’t mean you can’t experience college the same way as others. I hope this was helpful and good luck, commuters!

5 Things You Need to Know about CCS

WHAT IS CCS? WHY DOES IT EXIST?

I’m a firm believer that every college student can benefit from mental health resources. On top of everyday stress of being a college student, we all also deal with life stuff: relationships, losses, financial stress, depression, anxiety, break-ups, identity crises, eating disorders–the list goes on and on. Finding support that can help you navigate all of this is crucial. Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) is an amazing campus resource that helps many Ohio State students navigate not only the stress and struggles of being a college student, but also of just being a person.

WHAT DOES COUNSELING ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE?

I want to talk to you a little about the process of connecting with CCS. I grew up with a stigma around mental health, and so the first thing I used to think of when someone brought up CCS was of a client laying on a couch talking and a therapist sitting close by, the therapist nodding their head and saying “Mm hmm” and occasionally scribbling notes on a notepad.

Some people do go to CCS for one-on-one sessions. These sessions last an hour and consist of you and your therapist having a discussion about what you are experiencing, validating how you’re feeling, and coming up with strategies and steps to help you get to a place where you can be successful at Ohio State. However, CCS offers way more than one-on-one sessions. They have numerous groups to choose from that focus on a shared identity, issue or experience, and others that focus on skill-building (though it’s important to note that an initial screening is required to determine eligibility to join a group). CCS also holds drop-in workshops (no screening required) that are more low-key and help students with quick strategies and wellness practices.

One thing that I didn’t know about until recently is that CCS has started an initiative to embed clinicians in colleges across campus. This means that some therapists are trained solely with specific majors and schools. Check online or talk to your academic advisor to see if your college offers this!

HOW CAN A STUDENT ACCESS CCS?

Getting started with CCS can be the most daunting part, especially if you are like me. That’s why I am going to walk you through the steps to take to get started:

  1. Go to the Counseling and Consultation Service webpage.
  2. On the left, select “Schedule a Phone Screening.”
  3. Select the link for online registration to schedule a phone screening time. This page also explains what to expect from the phone screening.
  4. Actually DO the phone screening. Be as honest and open as possible.
  5. Plan a follow-up with the person on the phone. Together you will discuss preferences in therapy style and next steps, which may include a referral to a community support network (that’s the “Consultation” part of CCS).

WHAT IS NOT UNDER THE SCOPE OF CCS?

The CCS homepage includes a link to mental health support options. This page discusses other campus resources, as well as what to do if you are in crisis or in need of immediate help. This page has the phone numbers for countless hotlines, text lines, and other resources.

WHAT SHOULD I TAKE AWAY FROM THIS?

If there is anything I want for you to know, it is that you are not alone. Countless other students–including me–utilize this resource. As a stubbornly independent person who grew up thinking only “crazy” people need therapy, learning to ask for help and coming to the realization that I couldn’t get better on my own was a journey. Needing help is NORMAL. Asking for help is OKAY. It’s what makes you an adult. People ask for help all the time when things happen like breaking an arm, or they are struggling to study for a test, or they can’t reach something off of a tall shelf on their own. Asking for help with mental health should be no different. Advocate for yourself, for your friends, and for your loved ones.

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 🙂