Towson 2018 Freshman Survival Guide

By: Karuga Koinange, Bailey Hendricks, Kerry Ingram, Mary-Ellen Davis, Keri Luise, Brendan Felch 

Welcome to The Towerlight ‘s annual Freshman Survival Guide, in which we provide helpful information to freshmen and other incoming students.

How do I join The Towerlight?

Looking to stay in-the-know on everything going on at Towson? Look no further than The Towerlight, Towson University’s independent, student-run news organization. On newsstands every Tuesday, The Towerlight provides the Towson community with the latest news updates, arts and life content, sports recaps and more. For daily updates, the Towerlight Today daily email newsletter can keep you in the loop on everything you need to know, while The Towerlight’s Twitter and Instagram handles (@TheTowerlight for both) keep students informed in real time. This year, The Towerlight’s YouTube channel will be making its return, giving TU students BuzzFeed-esque content that’s relevant to campus life and the Baltimore area. Interested in writing or creating content for The Towerlight? Our team is always accepting new writers and creators; feel free to visit the staff in The Towerlight office, located in Room 309 of the University Union, or send an email inquiry to

Where should I study on campus?

Towson can be pretty populated during the school year. Sometimes, it can be hard to find a place to study. Many people don’t recommend studying in your dorm room unless you can find times that your roommate won’t be there. Often, a dorm doesn’t yield itself to a good study environment. In dorms, people could be coming in and out of your room, you could hear people in the hallway and this could make it hard for you to focus. If your dorm has a common area that is specifically for studying, that could be a great place for you to go to try to focus with others trying to do the same.

Going to the library is also great; however, it can get busy quickly. Try exploring the upper floors of the library and not just utilizing the main third floor. If you go to the fifth floor of the library and find an open brick study cubby – grab it! Those can be amazing places to study. Just don’t get too distracted from all the writing on the walls.

If you are looking to make friends and have more of a social study environment, try studying outside at Freedom Square! If the weather is looking good, you could also find a picnic table to study at (the ones near the pond in between Scarborough and Prettyman Halls can be great), or you could even find a spot under a tree during a sunny day.

How do I stay healthy and avoid the freshman 15 ?

Gaining weight in college is normal. You are in a new environment, probably eating all new things you aren’t used to before and are most likely stressed. It’s normal to gain a little weight in college, so if you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. However, it is important to balance your health with your academic and social life too. In order to do this, some would recommend making the best possible meal choices you can in dining halls. Don’t view dining halls as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Be sure to keep in mind portions  even though you can take anything you want. Focusing on healthy proteins like chicken, turkey, and beans along with whole, natural foods like fruits and vegetables will keep you energized and full for a longer period of time. Try to have packaged, processed foods and greasy pizza in moderation only, not every time you go to the dining hall. With being in class most of the day, it’s also important that you don’t skip meals. When you go to the dining hall, take a banana and some nuts with you to fuel yourself in between classes. Another thing that could help you cut down the pounds is staying active. If going to Burdick Hall after class to go on the elliptical for a half an hour seems intimidating to you, grab a friend to work out with. You could also try simply taking a walk around campus or taking the long way to class.

How do I stay organized and remember to do my homework?

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Freshman year of college can be stressful as you’re dealing with a lot of adjustments. Having freedom for the first time away from home can cause you to slip up in your studies. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure you always do your homework. You need to make sure you keep your grades up and turn in all of your assignments. Staying organized is key in helping make sure you do so. Using an academic planner to plan your upcoming assignments, due dates, club meetings, and whatever else you have going on will be a big help. Having a planner will allow you to see exactly what you need to get done and will make you feel like your workload is more consumable now that you have it all laid out in front of you. Calendars will be vital in making sure you have all of your future assignments and meetings set up in an organized fashion.

How do I print on campus?

I would recommend printing out your assignments at your dorm or at home before heading to class, but sometimes you’re in a pickle and need to get a paper printed minutes before class starts. It happens to all of us. Towson has WEPA printing stations all around campus for this exact circumstance.

There are six WEPA printing kiosks in Cook Library, one on the second floor of the Center for the Arts, one in the Glen Dining Hall, one on the first floor of Hawkins Hall, three in the Liberal Arts building, one in the University Union, and others scattered around campus too.button owl

You can either upload your file to the cloud and select your file on the kiosk or use a flash drive to print. Single-sided black and white pages are only 10 cents per page, while single-sided color pages are 59 cents per page. Using your OneCard, you can either use retail points to pay for your documents or use a credit card.

The WEPA stations are easy to use and can be your lifesaver if you didn’t have time to print your homework from home.

How do I use the shuttles?

Towson offers shuttle services on and off campus so if you can’t drive or simply live too far to commute every day, you can use the shuttle system to get where you need to go.

On-campus shuttles operate during the fall and spring semester, while off-campus shuttles run during the fall and spring semesters, along with during winter, spring and summer breaks.

Both the on and off-campus shuttles offer routes in Goucher, Kenilworth, Loch Raven, Rodgers-Forge, Uptown Towson, and Timonium. They also offer Black Express and Gold routes, which provide shuttles to travel around campus.

With traffic, unpredictable weather and construction each causing delays, you can stay up to date with shuttle information by going online to TUTigerRide.

Towson also offers Paratransit, SafeRide (for late evening rides) and charter bus services so if you’re struggling to get to campus or get home you have a large variety of choices at your disposal.

What’s all the fuss about sporting events?

After a long week full of classes, homework and stress, you can always look forward to the weekend to provide you with an entertaining sporting event including one of Towson’s 19 Division I athletic teams.

Any Towson student can attend sporting events for free, but it is wise to bring your OneCard in case verification is needed.

On Saturday afternoons during the fall, you can go with a group of friends to Johnny Unitas Stadium to cheer on the football team. The Tigers finished with a 5-6 record last season, but with several key players returning from injury the team looks to bounce back for a strong 2018 campaign.button bunny

The volleyball team is also looking to entice more audience members as they are coming off a 2017 season in which they secured their first postseason win in program history. After kicking off the season with a historic 16-game winning streak, Towson put together an impressive 27-6 record on the year and looks to build on that momentum this season.

In the winter, students can pack in to SECU Arena to watch the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Last season, the men’s team finished 18-14 while the women’s team concluded with a 9-21 record. With young talent fostering on both rosters, both teams are seeking vast improvement this year.

As spring begins, you can return to Johnny Unitas Stadium to support the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. In 2017, the women’s team finished 16-5 and made it to the second round of the NCAA Championships.

With plenty of compelling storylines to follow, you’ll have a myriad of opportunities to come out and root for the Tigers.

How do I use the Writing Center?

One of Towson’s best kept secrets is a resource available to students of all kinds of majors and programs. The Writing Center, located in room 5330 of the Liberal Arts Building, provides writing guidance for the Towson community including students, faculty and staff members.

This resource is not limited to just papers for an english course as the writing assistants in the center cover an array of different disciplines including nursing, political science and business. Writing assistants are made up of undergraduate and graduate students who have been recommended by faculty so you can be sure that you’re getting legitimate advice.

Employees at the center don’t just help with papers, though. They assist with any kind of writing project such as lab reports or resumés.

Transitioning from writing a few papers during the school year to writing at least one paper each month can be difficult, but the Writing Center can be a valuable resource to help you adjust.

How do I participate in Greek life?

Towson’s Greek life has many different fraternities and sororities that you can join. These organizations have a variety of different focuses from social activism and community service, to religion and music. Through these organizations, you can build friendships that could last well beyond graduation and connect to other brothers and sisters well beyond the chapter. Along with this, you can be a part of a group that shares similar interests with you. If you are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, look out during the early weeks of the fall semester for recruitment posters around campus and on social media. These posters will have events where you can meet other prospective members, get to know the brothers or sisters, and begin the process of joining a fraternity or sorority.

How do I join club and intramural sports?

If you’re not a fan of traditionally popular collegiate sports such as football or basketball, don’t fret because there is probably a sport club on campus that can accomadate your desires.

Sport clubs are student-run organizations that allow people of varying interests to come together and play their favorite sport whether it be for competitive gain or just for fun.

Towson offers a multitude of sport clubs including, figure skating, boxing, rugby and ice hockey. Even if none of those sports appeal to you, it is always possible for you to create your own sport club with your friends.

In order to create a sport club, you must fill out an application for Sports Club Organization (SCO) recognition and abide by all SCO procedures. Sport Clubs are funded by the Student Government Association and are overseen by Campus Recreation.

If you see a sport that isn’t listed as a student organization at Towson you can come together with friends to create your own club or you can be adventurous and join one of the several unique sport clubs on campus.

Not everyone wants to be too ambitious in their first year though, so if you’d rather stick to basics you can participate in intramural sports.

The Intramural Sports program provides an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and alumni to take part in either competitive or recreational sports. You are not required to be an athlete in order to participate so don’t feel threatened if you’re not in supreme shape. This program offers three ways to participate depending on the sport; seasons, tournaments and free events.

The next time you’re considering getting active with your friends, be sure to weigh the option of participating in sport clubs or intramural sports.

How do I use PeopleSoft?

It’s usually a scary sight when you first log in to PeopleSoft, but once you become acclimated with the program it will be a huge help throughout your tenure at Towson.

When you log into your account using MyTU, you’re greeted by a small menu on the left side of your screen. Primarily, you’ll want to click “Self Service” and “Student Center” to access most of what you’ll be using PeopleSoft for.

The Student Center page provides you with several drop down menus and buttons. At the top of the page your schedule for the semester is listed along with deadlines for changing your schedule.

The “My Academics” button will take you to a page where you can search/add/drop/swap/plan classes and monitor your progress on completing your academic requirements. At Towson, it is required that you earn at least 120 credits (32 of which must be upper level courses), complete at least one course pertaining to each of the 14 cores and fulfill the requirements for your major in order to earn a Bachelor’s degree in your program.

In your freshman year, your Freshman Year Experience (FYE) advisor will assist you in staying on track with all of those requirements. After your freshman year and once you’ve picked a major, you will be assigned a major-specific advisor who will be the one assisting you.

Your advisor’s name is listed on the right-hand side of the Student Center page. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your academic requirements or navigating PeopleSoft, you can always email them questions or communicate with them to set up an advising appointment.  

PeopleSoft also shows you significant information about your finances (account balance, financial aid, etc.), academic holds, enrollment dates and much more.

If you have some free time, it would behoove you to go on PeopleSoft and toy around with different buttons in order to familiarize yourself with where certain information is located.

How to I find my classes?

button 3Finding your classes during the first week of college can be challenging, especially when you have a limited amount of time between to travel from one to the next. In order to make your life easier, you can walk around different buildings the day before classes start. If you can figure out where all the buildings are, you can create a quick path that will get you from class to class with a bit of time to spare. You may also be able to walk around the buildings to find your specific classrooms, though many are locked on the weekends. In this case, you won’t be able to find your classrooms the day before so make sure to leave a little early during the day of, and for the first week of classes, to give you a little extra time. If you get to class early enough, you might just be able to get that prime seat at the front (or back) of the class.

How do I get along with my roommate?

So you have to share a room, but you don’t know the person you’re about to spend the next nine months with and you have no idea how to make sure it goes well. It’s not as hard as it seems. The first step to building a good roommate relationship is getting to know one another. Find out the basics about your roommate, like when their birthday is, what times they like to study, and their favorite activities.  This will give you some idea of what they are like, and how you two will best be able to navigate the relationship. Step two is to come up with some ground rules. The dorm should give you a roommate agreement sheet but come mid-semester, you won’t remember what you wrote. You should come up with a list of ground rules that you can tape to your wall or hide in a drawer somewhere. Finally, do things together. It’s good to have other friends, but spending one on one time with your roommate is important. It gives you an opportunity to bond as well as a chance to talk about and resolve any issues should they occur.

How do I navigate around construction?

Over the next few years, Towson’s campus will be undergoing renovations that make will navigating tricky even if the renovations will be good in the long run. To help, make sure you walk button constructionaround campus before classes start. This will let you get a feel for what areas are closed so that you know where not to walk. Leaving early for classes and activities is also helpful. Things change constantly, so your normal pathway to the gym might be temporarily closed, or there could be a little more traffic than normal getting to your class. Leaving early will allow you to adapt to any of these changes without causing you more stress than necessary. You should also keep an eye on The Towerlight. We report on massive changes going on around campus, so if a new project starts you’ll know how to adjust your route before trying to get to that evening spin class.

How do I do laundry in the dorms?

Doing laundry in the dorms is just like doing laundry at home, except now there’s a few key differences. The first being that you have to pay for it. To do that, you have to swipe your OneCard at the pay stations or use quarters. Luckily, laundry in the dorms is only $1.50 per load but that’s still more expensive than doing your laundry at home, so make sure you save those quarters when you go out and spend cash. They’re handy to have around. The second biggest challenge is timing. Finding a time that’s convenient for you is important, but sometimes those convenient moments turn out not to be. Often there are no washers or dryers open, which is obviously an issue. Late night study sessions or early mornings are good times to run laundry, as are Friday and Saturday nights. The laundry rooms tend to be less crowded at those times. To help keep the flow going, be sure to switch your laundry around as soon as it’s done.

How do I balance a social life in college? How do I make friends?

Everything in life revolves around a balance; School and socializing are no different from anything else. Time management skills come in key here. If you plan oubutton 4t your time wisely you’ll be able to keep those grades up, and still do all those fun extracurriculars you were excited about when you applied to campus. Keeping a planner will help you keep track of when assignments are due so that you know if you can go to that concert Saturday night, or if your time would be better spent studying for that huge test on Sunday. If you need friends to go to that concert with, joining a club is a good way to start meeting new people. Clubs will provide you with an opportunity to make friends with similar interests as you, and they can introduce you to other people who may also become new friends. If clubs don’t seem ideal, you could also go to a fun event or program that Towson offers, which you can find on the events calendar of the University’s web page. Long story short, use the time management skills you’ve been developing over the last few years to find times to go to events or join clubs. These events and clubs will allow you to meet people and make new friends.

How do I stay safe on campus?

Safety is important. Towson offers many tools to help you stay safe, including the blue emergency lights, security guards at the community centers in each dorm, and the TU Police Department. There are several ways that you can help keep yourself safe as well. Start by making sure that when you go out, let someone know where you’re going and make sure they know that they’re your emergency contact for the night. Then, should something happen, you have someone you know you can call and who’s expecting you home. There’s also always safety in numbers. Going out in groups can help keep you, and those you’re with, safer. Finally, you should have the Towson Police Department’s number set as an emergency contact. They are a great resource to have on call and are always willing to lend a helping hand should you need one.

How do I make my dorm room feel like home?

button tentCollege is the first time many students are truly independent and on their own. Dorm rooms are the first step into this self-determining college life. You will be living on your own. That’s why you need to make your dorm a comfortable place that feels like home. First, prioritize your bed. You’ll be wanting a good night’s sleep, so make sure to have a comfortable mattress pad, soft sheets and pillows to cozy up those old dorm mattresses. Also, make your dorm more comfortable and homey with additional lighting. Add a bedside lamp or a desk light to lighten up the room. To truly make your dorm feel like home, bring a piece of home to your dorm. Whether it’s pictures of family and friends or just a mug or some room decoration that was in your house, a piece from home will connect you to warm past memories. Combat homesickness and make your room a new home. Even though you may not realize it, your dorm room can play a huge role in your college experience, so make it how you want it.

How do I study abroad?

College is the time to try new things and make memories through amazing experiences. Study abroad is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons and go outside of your comfort zone. From Australia to Spain and more, studying abroad can help you enhance your degree and broaden your world views. Even if you are not up to the idea of studying abroad right now, keep your options open. Attend study abroad meetings and ask questions to help you develop the skills you need to succeed in today’s global community.

How do I get involved and join cool clubs on campus?

button 2Towson University has countless opportunities for students to get involved in a wide range of activities. There are academic groups, arts clubs, fraternity and sorority life, political clubs, religious clubs, service groups, sports clubs and more. Towson’s vibrant campus life revolves around these clubs and organizations so that students can explore new interests, meet new people, connect with new ideas and just have a great time. With more than 300 groups to choose from you are sure to find one that’s right for you. Even if you don’t see the club that you are searching for, you can start a new one yourself.

How do I make sure I’m on time for class?

When it comes to making it to class on time, confidence (and finessing) is key. Towson’s expansive campus can seem intimidating to navigate at first, but it contains tons of shortcuts that allow you to save time and energy while walking to class. In general, any paths you can find that involve cutting through buildings instead of around them will allow you to make it across campus in 10 minutes, tops. For example, students who are walking from the arena parking lots can cut through the Center for the Arts to shave roughly five minutes off the walk towards the center of campus. The same can be said for walking through the staircase that connects the Media Center to Cook Library. These navigational cheats will come in clutch on days in which you lose track of time. Finding a regular routine to stick to, such as leaving your dorm at the same time or meeting up with your friends before class, will also help motivate you to stay on time. However, if push comes to shove and you end up being late, owning it with confidence should be your only option. Skip the embarrassment and just make a mental note to try harder next time.

What should I wear to class?

Collegiate fashion is like a fairly simple math equation: practicality + trendiness = dressing stylishly with ease. Wearing layers that you can easily put on or remove will allow you to deal with varying temperatures in classrooms. Dressing in loose clothing, as well as sticking to flat-bottomed shoes, allows for comfort throughout your day. However, avoid making sweats your daily outfit; although they are ideal for days that you have little time to get ready or are in need of extra comfort, putting a little effort towards your outfits can help you to mentally prepare for the day ahead of you. If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and affordable finds, be sure to check out Trendy Tiger, The Towerlight’s weekly fashion and beauty column. From quick tips on dressing in college, to guides on student-friendly places to shop without breaking the bank, Trendy Tiger will keep you in style all semester long.

How do I park on campus?

Parking is hands-down one of the most popular complaints you will hear about during your time at Towson. Luckily, if you play your cards right, you’ll have very little to worry about. Having early-morning or late-night classes isn’t all bad; both allow you the best time slots for finding good parking. Parking before 9 a.m. will be a breeze, and parking or leaving the parking garages from 6 p.m. or later will be just as easy. If you have to park around campus between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., it’s easier to find spaces in the West Village Parking Garage or the arena parking lot than trying to park closer (bonus recommendation: parking in the arena lots aren’t that bad; you can cut through the Center for the Arts building to get to campus faster.) If you’re looking into buying a parking permit, the annual permits will save you the most money in the long run. Buying an overflow parking permit will also save you some money, although you won’t be able to park in the Union or Glen spaces until later in the day, so keep your class times in mind when choosing your permit.

Any bucket list items you recommend doing during my time at Towson?

button bearThere are a few things you should have on your bucket list if they aren’t there already. The first item to add is to join a club or a sport. Towson offers many opportunities to get involved in the TU community, from volunteer work to athletics, and even a club where that helps take care of Towson’s population of cats. You should also be sure to hit up a football game. The school spirit is intoxicating, and it’s a great way to show your support for the university. Hitting the gym at least once is also a must do while at Towson. The new facilities allow for Campus Recreation to provide many fitness classes, as well as plenty of equipment for students to try. One last thing to do throughout your college career is to make sure you get out and explore the community. You should get to know where you are and explore. Towson has a mall, movie theater, and many restaurants worth visiting.

How do I get my textbooks?

Textbook prices can add up. Fast. In order to make sure you’re fully prepared for the semester while staying in budget, use Towson’s textbook calculator to find your exact required materials and the different pricing options you have available. Towson’s U-Store, the on-campus retailer that provides textbooks, supplies and more for TU students, is a reliable source that is guaranteed to have any textbook you need for class. Buying straight from the U-Store is the most expensive option; however, so explore other online retailers to see what prices they offer before making final decisions on where to buy. Buying used books or renting will help to decrease the cost and look into locating textbooks within the Cook Library database to avoid paying altogether. Utilize your social media skills to reach out to other students who are in your major or who have taken courses you’re planning on taking to see if you can borrow or purchase books at a discount from them. The key here is to search for the cheapest option that will allow you to get everything you need without getting overwhelmed. As each semester goes by, this will become easier for you as you get more acquainted with your favorite retailers and methods.

How do I survive being a commuter student?

The life of a commuter is an interesting one, indeed. Here are the essential things you need to know in order to survive your alternative college lifestyle:

Always leave your house with at least 30 extra minutes to spare, in the event that you get stuck in traffic. You will need that extra time on more than one occasion.

-Keep an umbrella in your car, as well as an extra jacket.button car

-Try to avoid highways like 695 during the rush-hour times. If you can’t avoid heavy traffic times, make a commuting playlist that will keep you positive and jamming out during your rides.

-Find a few podcasts you like to listen to, for the days when you don’t feel like listening to the same songs. It’ll help your commute go by quicker.

-Join a club or organization. Since you won’t be living on campus, it’ll take a little more effort from your end in order to feel involved on campus.

-Enjoy your freedom. Even though commuting might seem like a lot, it’s great not being confined to one place. Remember that.

How do I decide on my major?

Choosing a major can be an intimidating task – we’ve been taught to believe that what we major in will determine the rest of our lives. However, what you major in isn’t the end-all, be-all. A major can help you to obtain your dream jobs and aspirations, but it doesn’t define you. If you’ve known since your birth that you wanted to be a pediatrician for children who live in a small town in the Western part of Wyoming, have at it. Choose your major accordingly and follow your studies to your heart’s content. On the flip side, if you’ve known since birth that you have no idea what you want to major in, that’s okay too. Just try to think about the different topics and activities that you truly enjoy; think of the hobbies you have that you don’t mind doing and see what careers may tie in to what you like. From there, begin to explore your major options and narrow down your list until you decide on your favorite one. Enjoy your studies, put your all into your work (remember: college isn’t free), and if push comes to shove, change your major until you find what works best for you.

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