One thing you'll often hear, especially as you start touring colleges, is that it's important to take advantage of "all the resources the school has to offer." But that's really generic advice. What resources does a school offer? How do you find out what they are in the first place? You'll have to do some research, but here are some of the most common services offered by colleges, and what you can expect to get out of them.
- Advising Office: When you visit your academic adviser here, you can find out all about your major requirements, get oriented to the college academic life, and monitor your progress toward reaching academic goals. Whether you want to learn more about possible majors or see if you can study abroad, these folks will have the answers! If they don't, they'll certainly know who to refer you to.
- Writing Center: From pre-planning to decoding prompts, the writing center is a free resource every student should use to help them boost their grades or land that interview. After all, there's a lot of writing in college, and these assignments will probably feel different than those you completed in high school. If you do need help with a cover letter, overcoming writer's block, or managing the requirements of a major paper, be sure to schedule your meeting far in advance. Procrastinating is not a good look, and the writing tutor certainly won't do the work for you. Come prepared, open-minded, and willing to put in the effort!
- Tutoring Programs: If you need homework help, colleges have a variety of tutoring programs to choose from. Some schools host large review sessions for popular first-year classes or have tutoring centers. Instructors might also be able to recommend former students or grad students who tutor in specific classes or topics. Ask a trusted professor or your advisor if you're seeking these services, and they can put you in touch with the best support for your needs.
- Library Research Desks: Arguably the most underrated resource on any college campus are the librarians at your campus library's help desk. Many undergrads find research projects daunting because they don't know where to find resources, how to cite them or, frankly, where to begin. Librarians have a wealth of knowledge about all of these elements, and most have a topic specialty that can help you not only find the research databases your school subscribes to, but the exact ones you need. Our advice? Use these people consistently and write them thank you notes after. Soon you'll be researching like a pro.
Note: Financial offices and duties vary across colleges. Sometimes grouped as "student services," the following three resources might play slightly different roles than those listed here.
- The Office of the Bursar: These are the people you should contact about paying tuition and fees or issuing refunds.
- Office of Financial Aid: If you have any questions about your financial aid package, how to apply for aid, or financial hardship appeals, this is the office for you.
- The Registrar: Looking for registration details, course descriptions, drop/add forms, and other similar logistical academic information? Look no further.
- Health Center: Not only can the student health center provide you with routine care and treatment for illnesses, they also offer information on a lot of preventative and safety options. They're a great resource for taking your health into your own hands.
- Counseling and Mental Health Services: Caring for your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Whether you're experiencing elevated levels of stress or need a professional to talk with, it's important not to neglect this offering.
- Your Resident Assistant (RA): RAs are role models to their dorm residents and are there to talk to you about anything that you're struggling with. Break ups, a bad test score, feeling left out, figuring out where to take your parents when they come to town: they've seen it all! A knock on their door will be well worth it.
- Career Center: Life after college can creep up on you faster than you think. In order to ready yourself for that transition, drop by your career center. Career counselors can help you find jobs and internships, prepare you for interviews, review resumes and cover letters, and discuss potential career paths. There's no need to wait to visit this office until you know what you want to do with your life! You might be surprised at how many jobs exist that you didn't know about until you ask these experts.
These opportunities exist because colleges want their students to succeed. The transition from high school to college can be particularly challenging, so take advantage of what's offered and turn any confusion into opportunity. Take note of what's there and give each one a chance. Before you know it, you'll be the tour guide happily sharing all the resources you've discovered.
For more answers to your pressing questions about college, check out our book, College Admissions 101. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we post videos regularly to help guide you through all things college.
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