College Survival Guide/The Campus

A typical map of a College Campus from Central Washington University.

Getting to know your campusEdit

Your college likely has a variety of facilities available on it's campus to assist you. Many larger colleges are effectively their own city. Not all colleges will have similar facilities, your institution may have some unique facility related to an academic program it excels in, or it may lack a common facility.

Explore your campusEdit

Once you are done moving in and participating in welcome events, it is well worth it to explore campus. Find your classrooms and major points of interest. Then wander aimlessly or go out with friends. You never know what you'll find.

Common FacilitiesEdit


University LibraryEdit

A reading room at the Uris Library of Cornell University.

Aside from typically housing a large number of Books, your University Library has a number of resources meant to help you succeed in your scholarly pursuits. In particular your University Library may have Course Reserves, textbooks for common courses available for short term checkout. Your University Library likely has access to a number of electronic databases, allowing you to instantly search and access a number of academic journals.

Learning CommonsEdit

Many colleges invest in a learning commons or tutoring center on campus. Here it is possible to get assistance in many common subjects, especially those at lower levels or intro courses. There may also be a writing commons, which can help guide you through the process of writing a good academic paper. Getting help with citations, style, and other writing features can help you focus on the point of your paper.

Study Abroad CenterEdit


Study Abroad OfficeEdit

Most colleges, but especially those with strong international ties or campuses abroad, will have an office dedicated to international study activities.

Information TechnologyEdit

Planetarium & ObservatoryEdit

The Observatory at the University of Western Ontario.

Many universities with large physics programs will have their own Planetarium, as well as a small observatory on campus if local light pollution permits one. Leading Universities may have more significant observatories, typically off campus.

Greenhouse & Zoology CentersEdit

Schools with a large biology program likely have a Greenhouse, and perhaps even a collection of live animals. Typically open for students to observe under supervision.



Your College may have a gym or fitness center for use by the general student body. Keeping your body healthy by working out is a good idea. Some larger gyms may have pools, basketball courts, or other large facilities. Many gyms will offer classes or instructors at a fee.

For schools with large athletic programs, there may be separate gyms intended for the exclusive use of Student Athletes.


Ohio Stadium at The Ohio State University.

Your College will have sports fields or stadiums if it has an athletic program of note. It's important to note that many colleges will require reservations, or fees to use these facilities, if they allow general students to use them at all. This is to ensure the sports teams can use them for scheduled games and practice without interruption or delay.


Dining HallEdit

The Interior of an AYCE dining hall at Bowling Green State University.

Your College likely has at least one dining hall or food court. These come in several varieties. À la carte is when you order and pay for each item individually, and is nearly universal in Food Courts. All-you-can-eat or All-you-care-to-eat (AYCE) models are commonly found on some dining halls, and you pay a flat fee to eat as much as you want. Most campuses with AYCE dining facilities have À la carte options, but the reverse is not true. Typically if there is a register between the food and the seating, it's À la carte, and if there is a register between the outside, with the seating and food close together, it is possibly AYCE. Ask the cashier the first time you visit a facility to confirm.

Campus PubEdit

Some colleges maintain a pub on campus, typically for the purpose of allowing one place on campus where alcohol is permitted. If you are unable to drink alcohol you may still be able to order food and non alcoholic mocktails.


If you end up leading a student organization, it is good to know that many campuses offer catering services for your meetings. These are often more expensive than other catering services, but be careful trying to dodge them - It may be against the rules for student organizations to order from anywhere else.


Student UnionEdit

The Student Center at Georgia Tech.


Colleges with a theater program typically have one or more theaters on campus. These can be handy for your academic studies in some circumstances. For example when reading about Shakespeare it helps to see his plays performed live.

Music PerformanceEdit

Colleges with a music program will often have music venues or recital halls on campus. It is common for performances by visiting artists, or student performances, to be open to the student body for free or a small fee.

Student MediaEdit

Many colleges, especially those with journalism programs, have a number of student media outlets, such as a newspaper, radio station, or television station. These outlets tend to be more tuned into campus events and ongoing university politics than other local news outlets. Even if you are not a Journalism major, they may accept you on their team. This can be a useful way to learn about the press, or build a resume.


Dorms and Residence HallsEdit

A fairly typical dorm room, with typical included furniture.

Things to consider when selecting a living place on campus.

  • How many roommates or suitemates will you have?
  • What are the students like who live there? Are they quiet or jovial?
  • How far is it from where your classes will be?
  • Does your room or suite have it's own bathroom, kitchenette, or laundry? How many communal facilities are there?
  • How good is the internet connectivity? Is there Wi-Fi only, or are there ethernet jacks?
  • Is the air conditioning? Do you control the air conditioning, or is it centralized?

Medical & Safety ServicesEdit


Many campuses, especially those without a medical program, will have a small non-emergency, clinic on campus. These typically offer basic physicals and similar general services. Sometimes specialized services, such as speech therapy, will be offered, especially if thee school has a program relating to those services. Larger campus clinics may have a pharmacy on site.

If it is offered, you should use vaccination services offered by your clinic. It is never fun to catch the flu mid semester, and crowded campuses are ideal breeding grounds for mid semester illness.


If your campus has a medical program, it may operate its own full service hospital.

Women's CenterEdit

Counseling CenterEdit

Many campuses offer a counseling center to aid with mental health issues.

Campus PoliceEdit

Security EscortsEdit

Day CareEdit

Some Colleges, especially those that have an early childhood education program, offer an on campus daycare. This can be useful for students who are parents.


The BursarEdit

Parking ServicesEdit

Office of your DeanEdit


Transfer OfficeEdit

If you have college credits from a previous school or program, this office will help you get them counted, or let you know if they can't count them.


An ombuds office helps provide a neutral mediator for disputes between students and university faculty.

Undergraduate ResearchEdit

Non Traditional Student ServicesEdit

If you are a non traditional student, such as a parent, veteran, first generation student, etc, you may benefit from a Non-Traditional Student Services office if one is on your campus. They can provide campus specific advice and resources to help you in your college experience.

College OnlineEdit

Your college likely uses a Learning Management System (LMS), to manage your coursework. Common LMS include Canvas, Moodle, and Blackboard Learn.

Having an email ending in .edu is quite useful: It is how you identify your student status for a number of discounts, particularly on software products.

College Websites are commonly awkwardly designed, as they have to accommodate a number of people with different needs and roles. Get to know where the things you need are, and bookmark them for quick access.