Greetings prospective or current NIU freshmen! You’re in for a few of the most memorable years of your life and even better, you get to enjoy those amazing moments at NIU! As an NIU freshman, more than likely you’ll be staying on campus- and I have just a few tips that I think will benefit you as you start to make NIU your new home. Keep reading for the ultimate guide for any NIU freshman living on campus!
1. If it’s possible, charge the optional $200 to your Huskie Bucks account.
Every student at NIU has a Huskie Bucks account, which is basically like an NIU debit card. When you sign up for room and board, there’s an option to charge $200 to your account with your meal plan. I think this is a great idea because your Huskie Bucks are essential to paying for laundry and shopping at various places around campus. The washer and dryer machines in the residence halls do not take cash or debit or any other form of money, so having this money already in your account can be a life saver!
2. New Hall Dining is where it’s at.
This is probably, by far, the most popular dining hall area in the school (though I’ve seen Neptune get a little busy from time to time). I’m not going to lie to you, after a while of eating dorm room food, none of the dining halls are going to be as amazing as they used to be. Sorry, that’s just college. However, I find that out of all of the dining halls, New Hall tends to have the most options.
3. Choose your residence halls carefully.
Before I even go into this, I just want to add a quick tip: sign up for room and board as soon as you can; rooms go quickly! Okay, so if money is the primary issue like it definitely was for me when choosing a residence hall, go with what you can afford. Period. I’ve lived in a different dorm room every year of college up until I decided to get an apartment and I’ve learned what I like/don’t like about certain dorm rooms and what’s available in them and what’s worth the price.
Neptune will be your cheapest option (about $4845/year). This is the only residence hall I’ll go into detail about that I haven’t actually lived in. There are no singles in this dorm, but I know a few people who got lucky and didn’t have a roommate. It’s your basic double dorm room with two beds, two “closets”, two desks, etc. Nothing fancy, but it’s affordable and SO convenient. Neptune is located right in the middle of campus and is in walking distance from basically any building you’ll ever need to get to on campus. If the cost of room and board is the number one priority, Neptune is the way to go. Also, as I’ve stated earlier, Neptune has an amazing salad bar AND FUNNEL FRIES (literally a funnel cake in French fry form)!
Stevenson Towers was the first dorm room I ever lived in. It was a little different than it was now in terms of the dining hall experience and the structure of the building. Stevenson comes with single rooms ($6010/year), double rooms ($5388/year), suites with bathrooms (same price as double), and suites without bathrooms (same price as double). I lived in a suite without a bathroom my freshman year and it wasn’t as bad as an experience as I’d thought it’d be.
Sure, sharing a bathroom with at least 15 other people seemed scary, but as long as you have a shower caddy and shower shoes, you’ll be fine and you’ll definitely get comfortable with it over time. The great thing about living in Stevenson is that these towers are where ResTech (Residential Technology) is located. ResTech has saved my butt on SO many occasions. If you’re ever having any technical issues with your computer or anything, take it to ResTech and they’ll take care of it FOR FREE!
Grant Towers was recently renovated and that’s where I stayed as a sophomore. Their single rooms are $6010/year and their double rooms are $5388 for the year. The renovations make the place seem completely modern and it definitely felt like home when I moved in. However, Grant Towers doesn’t have its own dining hall, so New Hall is the closest dining hall you can get to. Stevenson Towers is also pretty close. Even though New Hall is probably less than a block away, it SUCKS walking there in the winter. However, the price is reasonable and it looks great!
New Hall is where I stayed my junior year and it was, hands down, my FAVORITE dorm room to stay in ($6685/year). You get a kitchenette area (no stove or oven is included in it for obvious safety reasons and residence hall regulations, but it’s still awesome) that comes with two microwaves, a sink, a TON of cabinet space for your dishes, food, etc., and a counter to eat at. You also get a study area in the common living room area, a pretty dope smart TV, and a HUGE re-arrange-able couch.
All of the rooms are mini-suites, you get your own sink, and you only share a toilet and shower with your suite mate. It has, in my opinion, the best dining hall with it as well.
TIP: If you can, try to get a suite in New Hall East; it’s a shorter walk to the dining hall. The only downside to New Hall is that the rooms are tiny and there isn’t much space. But the amenities are worth it and you’re only sharing an entire living area with no more than 12 people (including you) at a time.
Pick what you can afford:
Like I said, when it comes to living in the dorms, pick what you can afford to go with first. But I just thought I’d go into detail about the dorm rooms available to freshman on campus.
4. Don’t flip out about the bus routes.
When I first came to NIU I had no idea where any of the buses went, but that’s perfectly normal for incoming students. I have the worst sense of direction ever and I was able to figure it out. The quickest way to do this, in my opinion, is to go through the Transit tool located in the NIU app. This tells you where each bus goes and its exact real time location. So once you figure out where your classes are and other stores/locations that you know you’ll frequent often, see which bus goes there and how often it leaves the Student Center (this is the bus turnaround where every bus route will be to pick up passengers). I know it’s scary at first, but you’ll figure it out along the way.
5. Try to find your classes early.
I didn’t do this my freshman year and I deeply regretted it. Luckily, I used the GPS on my phone to find my buildings, but like I said, I’m horrible with directions and spent a good 10 minutes looking for a building that was across the street from where I was standing. I wish I were joking. I’d even go as far as to find your actual classroom as well. TIP: Dusable Hall, one of the most popular academic buildings that I’m 99.9% sure you’re going to have at least one class in, gets CRAZY crowded and it’s hard to cut through people sometimes, so if you have a class there, get there early if possible.
6. Speaking of which, go to class.
Allow me to be blunt. You’re a freshman. You are not yet at the point of college where you’ve mastered just getting by without going to class. No one really is, but we seniors sure like to try. Anyway, you’re paying to get an education, so go get an education! Yes, there will be many classes where you’ll be sitting there, bored out of your mind, thinking of literally anything else you could be doing besides going to class.
But going to class is far greater than skipping class thinking you’ll just do the reading or online assignment and it turns out that you missed a pop quiz. Use the couple of free absences your professor may give you as detailed in the syllabus for actual sick days. I’m going to be honest with you, during my freshman year, I dropped an entire letter grade in a class just based on my attendance grade. It never seems like it’s that big of a deal, but it is. If you want, reward yourself after going to a class you really didn’t want to go to by going to the pasta toss in New Hall!
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If you participated in faculty-mentored research or artistry during the 2015-16 academic year, you should register to participate in the fourth annual Summer Research Symposium! Register by July 8 the symposium is on Friday, August 5th. Details, link in profile. #summeratNIU
7. Get involved.
I can’t stress this enough. Being focused on your grades are incredibly important. But so is having a social life and joining extracurricular activities. Sign up for clubs and organizations! How sad would it be when you finally graduate college and the only thing you have to say about it is, “Well, I studied a lot.”? You don’t want one of your most memorable moments to be the one time you studied until 3 AM, but at least you aced that exam. Socialize. Network. Step out of your comfort zone. And you don’t have to do it alone, either. Ask a friend or your roommate to at least go to an organization’s meeting with you.
8. Find places besides the library to study.
When midterms and finals come around, every student is going to be trying to go to the library or the student center. If you’re not up early in the morning or getting there later in the evening, finding a place to study, especially a place with an outlet for your phone, laptop, etc., is out of the question.
I personally love studying in the basement of the library (which also has a café), but there are always so many people there, it’s ridiculous to study there during the daytime. I suggest going off campus, if that’s an option. Places like Panera Bread are usually pretty good. There’s also this cool little café downtown called The House Café. I’ve never been there to study, but I’ve been there for brunch with a friend and it was very chill and quiet.
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Incoming graduate student in physical therapy Steve Uhren of DeKalb, IL, takes advantage of the quieter campus to hang up his hammock and get some reading time in. “I just try to camp when I can’t get my camping fix,” Uhren said. “I just stake it nearby.” Since he’s entering graduate school and is preparing for a busy school year, Uhren is trying to work in camping and hammock time as much as possible now. The summer is his favorite time because he can do this without any disruptions. “I’m like a grumpy old, young man,” Uhren said. #peopleofNIU #summeratNIU Photo by Michelle LaVigne/Creative Services
9. Learn to use the library resources.
There are a bunch of online resources and databases NIU offers to research just about any topic with credible and relevant sources. If you’ve written any kind of research paper before, then you’re probably familiar with what I’m talking about. And in college, research papers (or projects/presentations) are going to be assigned in nearly every class.
The reference desk has always steered me in the right direction for when it came to looking for material for class, but I want to let you all know about another resource that I just learned about this past school year – I-Share. This resource has saved my life on so many occasions! I-Share is a resource the NIU library has where you can order books to rent from other libraries in case our library doesn’t have it.
Last year, I was doing some research on feminist war journalists and I came across an online excerpt from an amazing autobiography. Our school library didn’t have this autobiography, so I rented it online through I-Share from another nearby library and in a few days, I got an email saying it was at NIU and ready for pickup. The best part about this resource is that it’s completely free for NIU students!
10. Take advantage of the Huskie Safe Line.
This is another free service for NIU students/community members with disabilities. It’s basically a shuttle that goes around town during the hours of 11 PM to 5:30 AM and will get you safely where you need to be. Don’t get me wrong; one of the best parts of going to college is exploring new freedoms and having fun, but your safety has to come first. Period. So go out and have fun, but please be responsible.
Those are just a few tips that I have for a prospective NIU freshman. I hope your first year is a blast and I hope these tips helped!
Have any other tips for a NIU freshman? Comment below and share this article with fellow students and friends!
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own!
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