These are incredibly valuable resources that can make a student’s first year a more positive experience, but they are not the only options available. Indeed, even campuses located in rural areas are situated within a larger community that is often happy to engage with students. If you are looking for additional or more private assistance in acclimating to your new surroundings, consider the following off-campus resources:
1. Employment and volunteer sites
For most students, university is a chance to form new friendships, explore new interests, and capitalize on new opportunities. You will likely meet others through courses and on-campus activities, but if you wish to build a truly diverse network of connections, pursuing off-campus experiences can also be worthwhile.
While you may have the opportunity to gain or strengthen field-specific skills via an assistantship or internship, off-campus employment is a great way to participate in the community and to meet people. However, if you choose to work, keep in mind that it could affect your student visa. To ensure that you are complying with all the applicable regulations, speak with your international or student employment office. If compensation is less important to you, consider a volunteer placement, which has many of the same benefits.
2. Health and mental health services
Many colleges and universities provide accessible and affordable health and mental health services to students. These resources are an asset during very stressful times, but you may prefer an off-campus option. In this case, there are many types of health and mental health providers that range from private doctors, to hospitals and clinics.
If you wish to explore your options, a simple online search of local providers can give you some degree of insight. You can also contact your insurance company for more information.
3. Social groups and support centers
Most schools make a strong effort to support the cultural and emotional needs of their students, as well as their academic needs. For instance, there are numerous on-campus extracurricular activities and groups that allow students to pursue non-academic interests and socialization opportunities. However, the on-campus groups and supports on your campus may not be broad, or they may not address your particular interests. Unless you plan to start your own on-campus group, you may have to venture off-campus.
Depending on your university’s location, this might be challenging. Urban areas typically cater to diverse populations, and they will likely have many off-campus options for you to explore in your free time. Suburban and rural areas, on the other hand, may have fewer options. They may also be problematic due to limited public transportation.
Regardless of which environment you live in, the first place to look for off-campus groups is at shared spaces like community centers and libraries. These buildings often have bulletin boards or other areas where you can find announcements or add your own (if you are interested in beginning a group.)
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.