Tips for Incoming Freshmen at Ball State University

You’re free! You’ve escaped high school relatively unscathed and decided to make the leap to Ball State. The truth is, you could have scarcely come at a better time. Ball State’s academic reputation is at its highest point in history, and is working hard to keep it that way, making your eventual degree more valuable every year.

But enough talk about degrees and graduation and the real world. You want to know what to expect from the Nest, the Student Center, the Atrium and the dorms, right? Well, while Ball State isn’t a massive or complicated place, it might take some time to get acclimated. Here’s a list of tips and tricks for those freshmen getting ready to nest at the home of the Cardinals.

Leave your preconceptions at home. College is an entirely different ballgame from high school. Some of what worked at home will work here, but keep your mind open to new ways of doing things, and try not to come into college with a set way of doing things. Chances are, the way you see Ball State is going to change every year.

Use this time to reinvent yourself. This one might be a little confusing. But use the next four (or five, or six…) years to experience the world from the safety of the “college bubble.” There are people from all walks of life at college, and Ball State, especially is a patchwork of diversity in terms of interests and backgrounds. Opening yourself up to some of those interests might just change your life.

Network. A lot. Okay, “network” might sound like adult-speak. But use your first few weeks at Ball State to put yourself out on a social limb. Meet everyone you possibly can. Then meet their friends. There’s a reason Ball State has a reputation as a social university. Use it to your advantage.

Take advantage of Ball State’s hard work. Tons of graduating Ball Staters have never experienced half of what their university offers them in terms of amenities and facilities. It’s a shame. Ball State is a model university in terms of its technological offerings. State of the art computer labs litter the landscape, and your laptop can connect to the internet wirelessly from almost any spot on campus.
Beyond the tech talk, there are also a number of facilities dedicated to keeping you fit. Irving Gym and Ball Gym offer workout areas and courts for basketball. The north end of campus has plenty of field space for soccer, football and baseball, and the high-quality lighted tennis courts are just a few steps from the fields. In addition, Ball State Recreation is pushing hard to bring students to free classes and seminars, including smoking cessation, aerobics, and more. In short, use what Ball State is offering. Much of it is free, and all of it is intended to make life that much better for students.

Visit campus landmarks. Ball State’s campus is charming, and there are a number of places on campus that simply must be experienced at least once before graduation day. Frog Baby Fountain, the statue of Beneficence, and the Nest (Ball State’s student section during basketball season) are all must-sees. Even (gasp!) the library is a pretty worthwhile place if you take advantage of their services (it’s more than books, guys, really). Get to know your campus well. It will be worth it.

Love the Village. The Village on the campus’ south end can be a haven for students who need to do some quick shopping and heaven for people watching on weekend nights. Local landmarks like Carter’s Nearly World Famous Hot Dogs (as hailed by ESPN) and Greek’s Pizzeria can be found here, and can offer great getaways from campus life and dorm food. The weekend scene at Carter’s, especially, is a sight to behold, and you’ll almost always see people you know in line for a $1 dog. While it can be something of a walk, the Village is part of what makes Ball State great.

Work hard, play hard. This may sound simple, but balance the work and the play. Too much or too little of either can make for a bad college experience, but making time for both will help you make the most of your social life while doing well enough to be able to stay there in the first place.

In a nutshell, keep an open mind, and soak in every second of it. Ball State is an incredible place with incredible people around every corner, and it’s getting better every year. You’ll make some of the best memories here, and make some of your most important decisions here. And you might even have some of your best parties here. However you approach it, though, do your best to take in all that Ball State has to offer. You might just make some great memories along the way.

Want to be a Ball Stater that Charlie Cardinal would be proud of? Here are 10 things you just have to do before graduation:

1. Get Carters. Some get it once a week, some only once a year. But no self-respecting Ball State student should leave without experiencing Carter’s Nearly World Famous Hot Dogs. They shouldn’t sign your diploma without proof of a ketchup stain.

2. Make Benny flap. Legend has it that the famous statue of Beneficence will flap her wings if you kiss your true love in front of her at the stroke of midnight. Try it out. It’s pretty much a win-win situation either way.

3. Get test help. The statue of Frog Baby, now in a fountain near the library, didn’t used to be so hard to access. She was once free-standing, but was moved into the middle of the fountain pond because students would rub her nose for good luck. Don’t let the moat stop you.

4. Read the paper. No, seriously. The Ball State Daily News is an awesome newspaper, and it’s the best way to find out what the heck is going on around campus. Plus, it comes out every weekday, so you have something to read between classes.

5. Lose your voice at the Nest. Ball State basketball’s student section is the best in the conference for a reason, and being stuck in the middle of it is simply a blast.

6. Eat Greeks pizza. Much like Carter’s, Greeks is a legendary establishment in Ball State history. Unlike Carter’s, however, it’s been there for decades, and still tastes like a little slice of heaven.

7. Bowl at the Student Center. The “Late Night” events are free to students, and usually include bowling and pool all night, as well as tons of other freebie activities.

8. Play Mud Volleyball. Nothing is messier, or more fun, than trying to chase a flying ball while caked in mud.

9. Go to a night football game. Ball State’s football field recently added permanent night lights, and the evening games always bring out the fans and the hilarious student rituals that go along with the games.

10. Take a seat at Emens. The auditorium brings in some great comedy and musical acts from all over, and Ball State students usually get some kind of discount, if the ticket isn’t already free.

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