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Tips for a Successful First Year at ONU

As the days between you and ONU grow fewer, you will soon know why “fun” is the most common description of college life. There’s no experience quite like living in a residence hall, meeting life-long friends, or setting foot on the campus that feels like a second home. You’ll realize that college is scary and stressful at times, but worth every minute. Years from now, when you pull out your faded ONU sweatshirt, a flood of wonderful memories will come back to you. As a first-year student at Ohio Northern University, you’re just beginning one of the best years of your college career.

Whether you’re nervous, raring to go, or some combination in between, Ohio Northern wants to help you prepare for this exciting time. Jumping headfirst into a new environment is not easy, and you undoubtedly have questions. The following “tips” from campus experts answer frequently asked questions and provide advice for a smooth (and fun) transition into Ohio Northern life.

AcademicsResidence LifeSocial LifeHealth and Well-beingInformation Technology


Dr. Roger Goldberg
Associate V.P for Academic Affairs

Certainly key items are to attend class regularly; be prepared for class by reading assignments in advance; noting when major papers and examinations are scheduled for early preparation; and seeing instructors during scheduled office hours. Finally, don’t procrastinate on work to be done!

Paul Logsdon
Director of Heterick Memorial Library

Heterick Memorial Library offers excellent academic resources: the Communication Skills Center; Wintzer Music Media Lab; OhioLINK access to more than 45.3 million library items from 85 state institutions; Inter Library Loans; audio visual equipment; reference databases; periodicals; individual and group study carrels with power and network connections; and two computer classrooms. For more information, contact the library at x2181 or visit the library website
And don’t forget to bring your ID card – you’ll need it for a variety of transactions.

Other helpful hints:

  • Choose a study spot: A quiet, well-lit place where you can concentrate is essential. Try academic buildings and the library.
  • Utilize your adviser: Not only a good resource for classes, your adviser can help you decide on a career path and keep you on track academically.
  • Find a mentor: Upper-class students in your major are excellent sources of advice on classes and job options in your field.
  • Get organized early: A ten-week quarter can be hectic if you don’t stay organized from the start. Make an academic game plan and stick to it. Wasted time is the culprit of many students.

Residence Life

Justin Courtney
Director of Residence Life

Living in the residence halls is a wonderful part of college life. If you are open to change, not only will you enjoy your new home, you’ll grow as a person too. Your freshman year in residence life will be a memorable one if you take the time to meet people and step outside your comfort zone. The true great moments of college are the times spent laughing with your new neighbors, watching tv in the lounges, or eating together in the cafeteria. Also, seek opportunities to connect with people you meet. Influences like Residence Assistants can become professional, personal and spiritual mentors. But you won’t meet people unless you get involved. Talk to your RAs, your professors, and your peers; be sure to look for opportunities to participate in organizations and student events; and don’t just hang around your dorm – go to class! After all, residence life is just part of college; you’re at ONU for an education, so invest yourself in your journey and see how worthwhile your time at Northern can be.

Andrew Rahrig
Junior, civil engineering major
Head Resident (HR) Founders Hall

Residence Life is much more than just enforcing rules. An excellent resource for dorm life, academics, athletics, campus awareness and more, Residence Life can help ease the transition from living at home to living at ONU. Residence Assistants (RAs) are highly trained and knowledgeable, and are valuable resources for first-year students – get to know them! Residence Life supports a friendly living and learning environment, meaning students are expected to observe 24-hour courtesy hours and weeknight quiet hours beginning at 8 p.m. To ensure a positive roommate experience, all residents sign a Roommate Bill of Rights acknowledging that they will respect each other for the duration of the year. Finally, your dormitory will provide various amenities, including an internet cable, but be sure to bring your own television cable and other additional items.

Other helpful hints:

  • The easiest way to meet people is to leave your door open when you’re in your room.
  • Learn how to make popcorn without burning it. A 3 a.m. fire alarm is not the way to make friends. Neither is the lingering smell of burnt popcorn.
  • Roommate Etiquette: Living with someone new is not always easy. Be courteous about visitors, noise and lights. Discuss your schedule with your roommate and be mindful of his or her’s. Set boundaries about sharing belongings and be sure to clean up after yourself. If you have a problem with your roommate, get it out in the open. Little annoyances can turn into full-blown issues if you let them simmer.

Social Life

Adriane Thompson-Bradshaw
Dean of Students
Be sure to participate in the orientation activities planned for your first few days on campus. Although some may seem silly, or you may want to use the time to settle into your room, these activities are designed to help you meet new people and connect to ONU. Any experience that makes you feel more at home will prove valuable as you adjust to college life. The same is true for getting involved with campus organizations and events. Avoid the temptation to go home every weekend. Choose to stay on campus and participate in social activities. You will enjoy your college experience all the more if you allow yourself to connect to the campus and its people.

Todd Sega
Third-year pharmacy major
Student Senate Vice President

Being social in an entirely new environment is one of the most challenging steps for first-year students. Social interactions are the hallmark of a successful college experience, as well as a future career. With more than 80 diverse student organizations, ONU has plenty of opportunities to get involved and interact with others. Just trying out an organization that “sounds fun” is a great way to meet new people. And don’t feel limited to just students. Professors and faculty members want to get to know you, too. Forming meaningful relationships will help you academically and professionally. ONU has all the resources you need for valuable social interactions, but the first step starts with you. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves, get involved and meet the people that make ONU so remarkable.

Nicole Muryn
Senior, international business and economics major
Student Planning Committee (SPC) President

Ada may be a small town, but there’s always something to do at ONU. If you stay on campus you will have a front-row seat to several activities, most of them free. Student Planning Committee (SPC) sponsors several events throughout the year, including Welcome Fest, movies on the tundra, celebrity comedians, a hypnotist and more. Not to mention University athletic events, music and theatre productions, and residence life activities. Also, if you’re looking to get involved, be sure to join clubs. Professional and social organizations are a great way to meet older students in your major, as well as gain valuable advice about what to do at ONU.

Other helpful hints:

  • Don’t be afraid to branch out. Everyone loves their high school friends, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet other great people at college.
  • Be cautious about relationships: With so many new people around, give yourself time to adjust to college before jumping into a relationship with someone you just met.
  • Stay safe online: Facebook, My Space and Instant Messenger are fun and easy ways to communicate, but they don’t make up for in-person interactions. Be careful who you “friend” or give personal information to.
  • It’s all Greek to me: Greek life is a fun and exciting opportunity, but it’s not for everyone.
  • Recruitment begins in September and representatives will visit the residence halls. Even if you don’t decide to “Go Greek,” recruitment is a good chance to meet new people.

Health and Well-being

Dr. Michael Schafer
Director of Counseling

Coming to college for the first time is an exciting experience, but it can also be a time of difficult adjustments. Missing friends and family is normal, but if these feeling become overwhelming you might be experiencing homesickness. Becoming involved in campus activities and talking with others about your feelings are two of the best ways to get back on track. If you are still having trouble, it might be time to talk to a professional from the Counseling Center.

“Stressed out” is a term we often hear, but what does it really mean? Everyone experiences stress in varying degrees. When educational or environmental demands begin to exceed our coping resources, we end up feeling stressed out. Danger signs of being over-stressed include things like getting sick more often, not sleeping well at night, using drugs/alcohol, procrastination, or a loss of interest in activities. The best defense is to be aware of your stress level and take charge before you become totally overwhelmed. You can do this by striving for a sense of balance in your life, eating healthy and exercising regularly. Many people benefit from relaxation techniques like stretching or deep breathing. Contact the Counseling Center at x2190 for more ideas on how you can deal with stress effectively.

Other helpful hints:

  • Be weary of late-night eating: Midnight snacks are a nice diversion from studying, but they’re also a nice way to pack on the pounds. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day and avoid eating greasy food late at night.
  • Drink plenty of water, take power naps, and wash your hands often: Basic health tasks can make all the difference when cold and flu season hits. With so many people living together, dorms can be germ hotbeds. Staying well-rested is will help you combat stress and illness. Twenty-minute power naps are excellent ways to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Sick at school: You’re sick and your mom is at home, so visit the Health Center and take the time to feel better. Sometimes it’s hard to slow down for a cold, but chances are you’ll be sick much longer if you don’t.
  • Take time for yourself: Even if it’s just a few minutes, taking a pause every day will ensure you don’t get burnt out.

Information Technology

Jeffrey Rieman
Information Technology

Your personal computer and its connection to the internet are an integral part of your academic studies here at ONU. It is important to maintain a system that runs efficiently in order to maximize you use of these resources. The Office of Information Technology recommends the following best practices:

  1. Keep your computer operating system up to date
  2. Install Symantec Antivirus
  3. Set a strong administrator password
  4. Be careful following links in e-mail and instant messenger programs
  5. Back up your work regularly

Feel free to call the IT Drop-Off Center at x1111 for more information.

Other helpful hints:

  • Watch what you post: ONU has a variety of security precautions, but ultimately you’re responsible for the information you post or share online.
  • Check your campus e-mail frequently: The campus communicates largely by e-mail. Weather delays, closings and other campus highlights (student-l’s) will be sent directly to your account. This is also where you register for classes and check your grades. Be sure to delete unwanted messages to help the system run more efficiently.
  • Print responsibly: Every student is granted a university printing limit of 750 pages. You will be charged for any materials over this number. Make sure you need something before you print it and recycle scrap pages.

Written by Autumn Steiner
Junior, professional writing major
Bluffton, Ohio