Keep reading for 20 tips for every Case Western freshman!
1. Register for classes the right way.
The best thing that you can do when registering for classes is not only trying to get the classes you need, but scheduling them at a time that works best for you. If you know that you are not a morning person, maybe it’s not a good idea to schedule that calculus or chemistry class early in the morning. Sometimes getting the best schedule may require you to switch around the times of your other classes as well. Before course registration day, put your classes in your shopping cart and validate them to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts. Don’t wait until the last minute!
2. Bring a fan (or two).
“But it’s Cleveland!” This is true, but that doesn’t mean that Cleveland doesn’t get hot in the summer. Since the freshman dorms do not have air conditioning (most of the dorms don’t), you will need to bring a fan. Even with the fan, it may be a bit uncomfortable during that first month of school, so be prepared.
3. Do freshman orientation right.
Freshman orientation makes for an exciting, yet exhausting week. After waking up at 7 a.m., walking around campus, and participating in a long list of activities, you may be tempted to just go back to your room and sleep (like me). Try to resist that temptation! There will be events outside of the “required” orientation schedule that you should try to attend. You don’t have to stay the whole time, but it’s a good opportunity to meet more of your freshman class.
4. Get involved.
Whether it be sports, the performing arts, writing for the school newspaper, or running for a community council, try to get involved! After all, it’s a lot easier (and more natural) to form friendships when you have something in common. Before getting on campus, check out this link to get an idea of what clubs you would like to join. Once you get an idea, try to reach out to the president of the club for any additional details. When school starts, be on the lookout for tryouts.
5. Check out CCEL.
If you’re interested in volunteering opportunities, go to CCEL (Center for Civic Engagement and Learning). The office is located on the first floor of the Tinkham Veale University Center, otherwise known as Tink. Some opportunities include volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House or the University Farm, and tutoring. Some may require you to commit weekly for an entire semester, while others allow you to participate based on your schedule.
6. Be smart with your meal plan.
There are many locations on campus that accept “movable meal swipes,” or meal swipes that you can use at places outside of the standard dining halls (Leutner on Northside and Fribley on Southside). These places include, but are not limited to, the L3 grill (below Leutner), The Den (on Northside), the Jolly Scholar (on Mather Quad), and Subway (on the quad, inside Tomlinson). While many of these places serve your stereotypical, late night college junk food, and the number of movable meal swipes that you can use at certain venues is limited per day and week, it’s always good to know that there are other options available if you find yourself getting tired of dining hall food. And you will; trust me.
7. Utilize CaseCash.
CaseCash is pretty convenient. CaseCash basically turns your CaseID into an impromptu debit card. Many of the vending machines on campus accept them (the freshman dorms can be hit or miss depending on where you are, but Wade is pretty reliable). Many eating establishments in Uptown, which is a short walk from the freshmen dorms, accept them (such as Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Mitchell’s Ice cream). You can use CaseCash to buy groceries at Constantino’s Market (convenient, but a bit overpriced). You can even use CaseCash to buy tickets for events happening around campus.
8. Check out Wyant and Veale.
There are two fitness centers that are free for students to use. One is located in the Village on Northside (Wyant), while the other is located on the Quad (Veale). I only worked out in Wyant because it was located right across the street from my dorm, but Veale is great if you’re interested in things like basketball, swimming, rock climbing, and racquetball. The first floor of Wyant has cardio and resistance machines, while the basement has a weight room. Based on my experience, you should be able to grab a machine without any problems.
9. Stay connected (via Facebook).
It can be pretty hard to stay up to date with on-campus events if you don’t have a Facebook account. I cannot tell you how many times an event (a free event, might I add) was not advertised around campus, and the only reason I even knew it existed was because it popped up on my “events” feed. It’s especially useful if your Facebook app can add events to your phone’s calendar to remind you of upcoming dates and times.
10. Read the weekly USG and UPB Newsletter.
Skim the newsletter to keep up to date about what’s going on around campus. You are bound to find out about big on-campus events or important information that you may find useful for freshman year (such as registering for classes, moving out, changes to meal plans, etc.). The newsletter will also give information about off-campus events, such as reduced prices for a Cavs game (go Cavs!) or free tickets to a movie showing. Last school year there were free tickets and buses to go see Mockingjay Part 2.
11. Always check the weather (but be prepared for anything).
It is said that, in Cleveland, the weather changes every five minutes. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but I will say this: Cleveland weather can be pretty up and down. One day it could be warm, but the rest of the week it could be cold with heavy snowfall. This may not come as a surprise to those of you who are from the Midwest, but for anyone outside of the area, do yourself a favor and check the weather before you leave your dorm. By doing this, there is less of a chance that you will step outside in your heavy winter coat (because it was freezing yesterday), only to face sixty degree weather. But always carry an umbrella with you, just in case.
12. Get reliable winter gear.
The campus at Case Western is pretty spread out. The Northside of campus is separated from the Southside of campus by Euclid. The quad (located closer to Southside) is where all the math and science classes are held. As Case Western freshmen, there is a good chance you will be going to that side of campus multiple times a week. When you combine this with the fact that it gets cold in Cleveland (and that the cold feels a lot worse when you have to make a twenty minute trek to class), you’ll want to invest in good winter gear. And don’t forget to wear layers!
13. Know how to work the Greenies.
The “Greenies” are shuttles, but they aren’t actually green. They pick up and drop off students at various locations around campus. This service is really useful if you want to avoid travelling around campus by foot, whether this is due to the time of day, the weather, or just plain laziness. I only utilized the Greenies a handful of times during my freshman year, but they were really handy when I needed them. There is an app called “NextBus” that lets you select a Greenie based on its route. Once selected, the app lets you visually track the shuttle on a map, and also gives you the predicted time of arrival.
Tip: the Greenies tend to be very crowded during the winter.
14. Look for cool study spaces.
Another confession: I have yet to study in KSL (Kevin Smith Library). Instead, I explored buildings around campus and was able to find some quiet study spaces that many people never utilized. Check out the first floor of Guildford House on Mather Quad and the Hart Crane Reading Room in Thwing. As Case Western freshmen, you have so much to explore.
15. Take Advantage of Media Vision.
The intro. classes that you will take as Case Western freshmen will almost certainly be large. This may seem overwhelming at first, but the plus side is that many of these classes should have Media Vision, which is basically a recording of a lecture. For example, if your professor explained something too quickly and you were unable to take adequate notes, you can simply watch the lecture later at your own speed. This is an excellent tool that can help you reinforce the content that you’re learning, but try not to abuse its power. Go to class!
16. Don’t over load.
While it’s inevitable that there will be some slackers at any institution, I think that Case has a pretty hardworking student body. Overloading – whether it be in terms of credits (16-17 credits is typical), anticipated major (you hear a lot of engineering/pre-med majors), or extracurricular activities – seems to be the norm. There is nothing wrong with thriving off being busy, but make sure that you don’t become too overwhelmed. If your grades start to suffer, or you start to lose sleep due to stress, try to cut back.
17. It’s okay to change your major.
There are many Case Western freshmen who are dead set on a particular major or career path. However, like most things in life, it is not until they actually go through the required curriculum that they are able to determine if it’s something that they really want to do. I went into my freshman year planning on majoring in cognitive science, but when I took an intro. course, I discovered that it just wasn’t something that I wanted to study for the next four years. If you discover that you really don’t like your major, don’t be afraid of how the people around you will react. Remember, this is your future, not theirs. Take some time to investigate other majors and possible career opportunities as Case Western freshmen.
18. Explore University Circle.
Bored? Spend some time perusing paintings, sculptures, and artifacts at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Or check out the Museum of Natural History. Did I mention that these museums are free for Case Western freshmen (and students, in general)? If you enjoy music, check out the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. These are just a few examples of things that you should check out in the cultural center known as University Circle.
19. Go off campus.
As a student, you will get an RTA pass. Walk to the station that is located in Little Italy and take a 30 minute train ride to downtown Cleveland to see a movie at Tower City Cinema, a play at Playhouse Square, or explore the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Take the train to Westside Market. If you want to stick closer to home, simply walk over to Little Italy and try a cannoli at Presti’s Bakery, or some pizza at Mama Santa’s Pizzeria.
20. Show some school spirit.
I’ll be honest, the lack of school spirit can be disheartening sometimes. Although our school is largely focused on academics and our sports teams are division III, that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and show your support! And if sports really aren’t your thing, there are numerous other things to get excited about. Go out and see a play run by the theater department or produced by your fellow peers. Check out an improv show or a dance performance. How about an a cappella concert? Get excited and enjoy being Case Western freshmen!
What are some other tips you would give to a Case Western freshman? Comment below and share this article with friends!
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Amanda Smith is a student at Case Western Reserve University and will be a sophomore in fall 2016. She is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Policy and Japanese. She enjoys watching movies, dancing, going to the gym, reading, writing and theater arts.