Leaving home and going to college can be a big, intimidating step. Without your parents around, you might think you’ll be left to fend for yourself—but guess what? You’re not! When you start college, you’re entering a big community. On top of all the friends you’ll make, colleges also provide built-in resources to offer you support. Here are a few you should be on the lookout for:
Tutoring and Academic Support
College classes will challenge you in ways you haven’t experienced before—but that’s a good thing! And every college will have some kind of academic support in place for you, like for one-on-one tutoring, study groups, or after-hours labs where you can do your homework. There’s always help to be found! A few things you can ask for help with: studying for a test, time management, editing your essays, or note-taking tips. Many students use these resources, and there is no shame in making sure you are succeeding in your classes!
Disability Resources and Services
This office might have a different name depending on your school (at Bethel, it’s called Disability Resources and Services), but essentially, it’s where you can request necessary accommodations or seek out advice on how to thrive in your new college setting. Whether it’s testing in a separate exam center, receiving assistance with note taking, exploring different housing options, or getting a support animal, there are ways to make college work for you. And it’s the job of disability services to make sure all students have the opportunity to succeed.
For many freshmen, college will be the first time away from consistent home-cooked meals. As you get accustomed to your new surroundings, know that you shouldn’t have to worry much about what you’ll be eating. Every college will have some sort of dining services—this often means a cafeteria, plus some schools have coffee shops and fast-food-style options. The folks in dining services also understand that many people have different dietary restrictions. If you’re worried about food allergies or being vegetarian in college, talk to the chefs in the dining center. They can make sure you have something to eat!
Health and Counseling Services
All campuses should have health services with a nurse (and sometimes a doctor). They’ll be able to treat you for most minor conditions, or refer you to another healthcare center for the conditions they can’t treat you for. Most schools also have counseling services available as well. Your college will want you to be successful as a student, and that requires caring for your physical and mental health.
Even if you are not going to a faith-based school, there are ways to nurture your spiritual life. At most colleges, you can find student- or staff-led groups specifically dedicated to creating opportunities for you to connect with your faith community. At a Christian college, faith will likely be more interwoven into daily life. Here at Bethel, we have Chapel and a weekly Vespers worship service. We also have many student-led small groups and events to help you grow. Check out Student Ministries or the Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations for more information.
Clubs and Organizations
If you already have a hobby or are looking to try something new, campus clubs will probably be your thing. Nurturing your passions outside of academics is not only fun, but it can also be therapeutic. Do you enjoy anime? Tennis? Psychology? Politics? Clubs that revolve around academics, sports, or literally anything else can be found (or created!) on campus. Doing things you enjoy that aren’t academic isn’t superfluous, sometimes it’s necessary to having healthy balance in your life.
Upperclassmen mentors come in many forms: friends, classmates, residents assistants, or even workplace supervisors. Finding someone who has been in your shoes and succeeded can be a huge help. They know what it feels like to enter college for the first time, but they’ve also made it through and have lots of sage wisdom to bestow upon you. First stop? Your RA. It’s literally their job to support you, so don’t hesitate to get to know them. If you need help with anything or have an issue, they are your first line of defense. At Bethel, we also have Shift leaders, upperclassmen who will lead small groups in dorm halls (or another location on campus if you’re a commuter). These are people who are passionate about supporting you and want to see you grow and thrive. Upperclassmen might seem intimidating at first, but they have been in your shoes and more likely than not, are happy to lend a helping hand.
One important thing to know is where to go if you are in a situation where you don’t feel comfortable. Every college has a human resources department, which is where you can take any complaints or concerns regarding discrimination, harassment, or misconduct. Your university wants to foster a safe and comfortable community for you to live and learn in, but can’t address your concerns unless they’re aware of them.
One of the biggest reasons to go to college is to prepare for your future career. But what if you’re not sure what you want to do? How do you find internships and work experience? What do you do after you graduate? You’ll undoubtedly have a lot of questions throughout your college years and upon graduation. But your university knows that and will have something like a career services office to help. This is an awesome resource for every step of the college and career process. Using aptitude assessments, they can help you identify what kind of career you might want to pursue. They’re also experts on networking, cover letters, and resumes. And when the time comes, they can assist you in finding and landing internships and jobs. At Bethel, these services are available to you even after you’ve graduated. Get to know the people that work in these offices right away! They can be a huge help in having a successful career in the future.
When you go to college, remember that you are not on you own! There is support in nearly every sense of the word available, you are just responsible for reaching out and taking advantage of it.