Where Should I Go First? Places to See Once You Get to College

An exciting part of settling into college is getting to know your campus. Not only will you more easily find your classes during the first week of school, you’ll also learn about available resources that can help you throughout your college career. Take a break from unpacking and setting up your living space, and go explore. Here are some places to see once you get to college:

1. Library

The library is often the heart of campus. A central meeting location, it provides study spaces as well as print and electronic resources. Find out where your library is located – it’s even helpful to know how long it takes to get there from your dorm – and take a tour around the stacks. Check out where you can find books related to your major or course of study, in addition to the reserve, audio, and video sections. Throughout the library, you’ll see tables set aside for studying and doing work, and computers you can use if you don’t want to bring your own. Look for study rooms that you can reserve, either for yourself or future study groups. You might even find a cozy spot, by a window or on a quiet floor, which you can return to later in the semester.

2. Student center

The student center is another great place to meet classmates and other students. You can still study and do work here; its environment is just more casual and allows for louder conversations than the library. The student center provides space for extracurricular activities, like club meetings, job fairs, performances, art sales, and sometimes film screenings. Often, there’s a coffee shop, a convenience store, or mini cafeteria you can purchase food from while you’re studying or just passing through. Here, you can also meet with classmates or mentors for a cup of coffee.

3. Technology/Media center

At the media center, you’ll learn about electronic and technological resources you can take advantage of for projects. These may include specific software, like Photoshop or InDesign, as well as camcorders, scanners, or recording devices. Often, you can bring in a flash drive or access your files online and do work at the media center itself. The staff is often trained in the use of their resources, and can help you if you’d like to expand your knowledge or don’t know quite how to execute your vision.

4. Fitness and recreation center

Another place to see when you get to college is the fitness center. Check out what your fitness and recreation center has to offer you, in terms of classes and facilities, such as workout machines, weight rooms, or a swimming pool. Even if you don’t consider yourself a traditionally athletic person, you’ll usually have to fulfill a fitness requirement anyway – and take a class there – or you may find resources suited to your interests, like yoga, archery, self-defense, or swing dancing.

5. Your major department

If you’ve decided on your major, visit the department. Take a tour of the building and peek into classrooms where you’ll take classes. Along the hallways, you’ll often find showcases of professor and student awards, accomplishments, or publications. You’ll also want to visit the department office itself, and if you like, introduce yourself to the administrators with whom you’ll work closely. You can even set up an appointment with a department head or future professor to get to know the department and your field of study better.

College is a unique time where many resources are at your fingertips. Before the frenzy of classes settles in, take time to check out these places once you get to college, and learn what kind of support they can offer you. You can even see if your roommate wants to go too, and make a friend at the same time.