Whether you have decided to attend a rural school with a defined campus or a city school where busy avenues and public parks are just as much a part of campus as the science department, knowing your way around your college campus is one of the most important steps to acclimatizing to university. This familiarity won’t come from studying a map or becoming friendly with the office of admissions assistant though. You need to talk to upperclassmen, explore for yourself, and even stalk your school online to get the inside scoop on all the campus spots you need to know.
1. The Perpetually Quiet Library Floor
First and foremost, you came to university to get an education. To do that, one of the most important places to seek out is somewhere you can reliably get genuine studying and work done. At a lot of institutions, the library is a sprawling, social campus focal point. People meet up to work on group projects, share notes over coffee, or sit in agonizing contemplation as they vow not to leave until an essay is finished. That’s all great, but it can also be distracting and loud. Seek out the corners of your library that are always quiet, whether that’s the mostly empty bottom floor, a quiet reading room, or the top floor no one ventures up six floors of stairs to reach. This is a good spot to seek out early on in your academic career.
2. The Dining Hall’s Secret Treasures
Most campuses have many dining options and required meal plans. While you’ll predictably come to begrudge the dining hall’s poor ice cream choices or lack of seasoned vegetables, there will always be a saving grace. Find the dining hall that does epic Tex-Mex on Wednesdays or has fresh bagels every Sunday. Knowing the dining hall schedule and where to get a great meal can be the difference between a good day and a hangry one.
3. The Party Spot
As a freshman, it’s important to figure out where to go out at night. Whether all the great pre-games happen in a particular building off of campus or if each building communally hosts their own, knowing where to go on your first few nights out can really help you settle in quickly. The only way to figure this out is to network and talk to everyone — especially upperclassmen — in your first few days. Find out which parties are open, which pregames are freshman friendly, and where the after party is for the best night out.
4. The Local Pizza Joint
There’s nothing better than trudging home from a frat party and breaking up your walk with a stop at the local pizza place. There’s always one iconic spot where you’ll find dozens of your peers (even in the early hours of the morning), cheap slices of pizza, and fast service. There’s nothing better than a dripping, cheesy slice of pizza at 2 a.m. surrounded by the buzz of your new friends and this spot will definitely become a part of your routine.
5. The Go-To Place For Caffeine
Whether this is your local Dunkin Donuts or a campus specific site, root out your go-to spot for coffee, tea, or a sugary espresso drink to get you motivated in the mornings. Build this into your daily routine or treat yourself on mornings when you’re running on just a few hours of sleep, but you’ll definitely want to have this figured out from the get go.
6. Your Professors’ Office
Your parents, tour guides, and, apparently, online blogs will all tell you that you should visit your professors for their office hours. The impulse may be to roll your eyes and say you don’t need to get to know your professor to get a good grade, but you would be foolish not to go at least once for each class. In ten minutes alone with your professor they can learn so much about you and it can translate into a better relationship with the class or maybe just a great book recommendation. Nonetheless, whether you are struggling or thriving in a class, look up your professor’s office location and office hours and spend some time there.
7. The Writing Help Center
Similarly, figure out what special services your school offers and test them out. For instance, many schools have writing centers where you can schedule free appointments to work through an essay or assignment. Even if you are confident in your writing abilities, it can’t hurt to take advantage of free proofreading.
8. Reliable Snacks
There’s nothing worse than being on a meal plan and realizing you’re starving at 11 p.m. and nothing is open. Know where the closest vending machine, late night deli option, or 24 hours grocery store is from day one to ensure you’re never going to sleep hungry or having to frantically order pizza in the middle of the night.
9. A Scenic Escape
Whether you are close or far from home, came in knowing no one or with all of your best friends, and are thriving academically or suddenly bombing everything, I promise you, you need to find a quiet, scenic space to call your own. There are days when inevitable drama between your roommates or new friends make you want to tear your hair out, and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you have nowhere to escape to. Find a spot on campus you can easily get to, whether it’s a quiet art studio, scenic bench up the hill, or corner of an academic building where you can cry, call someone, read, write, or just listen to music until everything feels okay again.
10. The Room That You’ll Remember
College should be defined by more than your best nights out; it should be four years to truly give yourself over to your passions. That being said, the most important college campus spot to know is the one that gives you a purpose. If you run your own radio show this might be the studio, future journalists may spend hundreds of hours in the newsroom, or maybe it’s the sound proofed piano room where you’ll perfect your playing and singing. Whatever it is that you care about, find a space to dedicate time to that passion to make the next four years really count.
What college campus spots do you love? Let us know in the comments section!
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