Remember all the angst you experienced applying to colleges and then waiting for the acceptance letters? Well, now you've arrived and gone is the agony of rejection, the dim uncertainty of the waitlist. You've been accepted and the Dean of Students is now open arms and smiling, inviting you to attend this or that event, suggesting you check out this or that opportunity, and even—in some smaller colleges—telling you to "Stop by my office any time!"
College is a fully supported adventure that goes beyond just academics. You now have a team to help you learn, succeed, stay healthy, meet new people, and even figure out how to pay for the whole experience. The resources available to you are astounding and this chapter will introduce you to some of them. (Note that your school might have different names for some of the resources highlighted below.)
Dean of Students
The Dean of Students Office serves as the liaison between students and the faculty and administration of the college. Its purpose is to provide a variety of programs and services that support the campus community. The Dean of Students usually coordinates or oversees student activities, student govern- ment, and campus safety. This office—or its website—is a great starting place for learning more about campus life. It's also the go-to resource if you have a question and you're not sure where to direct it.
Disability Support Services
This office offers academic and other important support to students with disabilities. It determines eligibility, facilitates academic accommodations, works with other campus entities to ensure accessibility for students with disabilities, and provides education about disability issues.
International Student Services
This office provides orientation services, advising and counseling, employment aid, health insurance programs, banking and financial services, immigration support, and resources for families of international students.
This office processes and collects student tuition, room, and board fees; issues refunds; and collects and disburses financial aid.
The Financial Aid Office assists students in overcoming financial barriers to their education. The office employs experienced financial advisors who work with students to evaluate their financial needs and obtain federal, state, and/or schol- arship assistance to help fund their college education.
Health & Wellness
Campus Recreation or Athletic Center
Your college probably has at least one athletic center and, if it's a larger school, it might have several, as well as an Outdoor Center, a pool, sports courts and fields, a massage clinic, a climbing gym, and services like fitness evaluations and training and nutrition services.
Counseling centers provide mental health care, including professional consultation, referral, therapy, academic assessment, emergency services, information and education, and support groups.
Student Health Services
Many colleges offer students access to some form of quality, affordable and accessible health care services, even if students do not have health insurance. Some colleges have a fully operational hospital, while others have a small clinic. Common services provided by student health centers include immuni- zations, reduced-cost prescriptions, diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses and minor injuries, pregnancy tests and contraception, and health education outreach.
The goal of the campus police is to create an environment that keeps students safe as they learn, work, live, and play. Your college's campus police may also offer classes on public safety and provide security escorts for students traveling on campus at night.
Center for Spiritual Life/Campus Ministries
The faith center on campus will help connect you to places and people that can support your spiritual life. At many colleges, this center is also actively involved with community outreach and social justice. Whether you're looking for a place to worship, a faith-based study or discussion group, or an opportunity to serve the community, this is a good place to start.
This center provides a myriad of services, including assisting commuter students with transportation, volunteer and service-learning opportunities, as well as information, academic resources, and support for a diverse and inclusive campus community and more. This is a place where you can “connect” with other students, get your questions answered, and become more involved on campus.
This office maintains campus housing and dining facilities, and may also develop programs and services such as meal plans, room assignments, and roommate matching.
Bawcom Student Union
Student Activities centers plan and organize fun, social, and educational activi- ties both on and off campus for students. Examples include guest speakers, intramural sports leagues, and excursions.
Academic advisors help students plan their schedules, choose their majors, map out a plan for graduation, and set goals for post-graduation. Refer to the Academic Planning chapter, page 30, for an in-depth discussion of this department.
The college bookstore is a hub of academic life, a place to meet up with friends and part with funds. Bookstores offer students all the textbooks and other materials they'll need for their classes. Most bookstores also offer used books at a reduced cost, and end-of-term book buy-back programs.
Computer/Information Technology (IT) Center
Your IT center helps you establish your college email account and network storage. It may also offer computer classes and help with computer-related questions.
While most students have personal computers, they might use campus computer labs for some projects, to get hands-on assistance with their technology, or for printing jobs. Computer labs are also used as instructional spaces.
Most colleges have an Honors program that offers more challenging academics for advanced or gifted students. Access to this program typically is limited to applicants who meet certain criteria. Those students accepted receive additional support for their rigorous academic schedule.
Every college has a central library that students can use to conduct research, find recreational reading materials, or use as a quiet place to study. Most colleges also have departmental libraries. These libraries carry a more extensive selection of materials related to the specific department's needs.
The registrar performs a range of student services, including course scheduling, fee waivers, residency and enrollment issues, transcripts, grade reporting and billing.
Tutoring Center/Writing Lab/Math Lab
Tutoring centers and labs are a great resource—and they're often free. They are generally staffed by students with advanced skills who have been trained to tutor others. Some require appointments while others encourage drop-in visits.
Alumni associations are established to develop long-term relationships with students. You don't have to be a graduate to benefit from the alumni office. In fact, many of its programs are for current students. Alumni associations promote business networking and career development opportunities, special discount programs, and social events. It's also a great way to connect with graduates who are interested in sharing their experience and expertise.
Familiarize yourself with this center early on! You'll find internship placements, resumé development assistance, interviewing and networking support, career development classes and publications, job fairs, and job boards. The Student Employment Center connects students seeking employment with the campus or community entities who are hiring. Here you'll find work study and non-work study jobs posted, as well as volunteer and community service opportunities.
You will surely find all of the resources listed above—and others—online. Set aside some time to explore your school's website. You might be able to take a virtual tour of the campus and community, sign up for an electronic mailing list or text notification, read pamphlets and notices from the various offices, find the central event calendar, and familiarize yourself with the course catalog and department web pages.
Once you've familiarized yourself with your campus, take some time to familiarize yourself with the greater community.
Explore your transportation options—when and where do the buses or subways operate?
Locate grocery stores, banks, medical centers, and other necessary businesses.
Find possible study and meeting spaces, like libraries, parks and coffee shops. Learn where you can access Wi-Fi and where it's free.
Look for cultural opportunities: where are the art galleries, museums, and music venues?
Check out the Chamber of Commerce to find out more about local attractions, clubs and businesses.
Depending on your interests and needs, you may also want to research nearby churches, local support groups, crisis centers, low-cost medical and legal centers, or community organizations.
College Resources Exercises
- Which resources do you anticipate using on a regular basis your first year of college? Which resources do you anticipate relying on more heavily in your last year of college?
- Which resources sound most interesting to you? Which offices or activities would offer you the most opportunities to challenge yourself personally, socially, and academically?
- Find out what events and activities are coming up in the next 6 weeks and select at least three to participate in.
- If you were seeking a summer internship, where would you start your search? Create a list of all the possible campus and community resources that could help you find an ideal internship.
- If you were concerned about a friend who seemed depressed or anxious, how might you help him find information or assistance? What campus and community resources would be most helpful? If you were concerned about a friend who seemed to be experiencing body image issues, how might you help him find information or assistance? What campus and community resources would be most helpful?
- What opportunities are there to meet and interact with a variety of people? Brainstorm ways you can connect with people of a variety of ages, backgrounds and experiences, political and religious affiliations, interests, and areas of expertise.
- Campus Passport. Explore the campus with a partner or two and “stamp” your passport along the way by collecting a brochure or signature from each office or by taking a photograph of you and your traveling buddies at the location. You must visit the following places, but do take time to explore other resources along the way: a) Registrar’s Office, b) Student Accounts Office, c) Library, d) IT Center (or a Computer Lab), e) Tutoring Center, f) Student Health Center, g) Counseling Center, h) Bookstore, i) Athletic Center, j) Campus Police Office, k) Alumni Office, l) Career Services Center, m) Multicultural Student Center, n) Office of the Dean of Students.
- Become an expert on one facet of the college experience and create a presentation that will inform and entertain other new students. Choose a focus area—for example, Play or Culture or Money or Faith—and research the variety of resources available related to that focus area. Once you’ve thoroughly explored your focus area on line, on campus, and in the community, create a presentation to share your knowledge with others.