FAQs for parents and families

Choosing a university is a big decision, one that usually involves the whole family. We've collected answers to some of the most common questions parents have, and we hope you'll find them helpful. If you don't find the answer you're looking for, email us at askabuckeye@osu.edu.

My student is undecided. What are his or her options?

It is not uncommon for students to be undecided about which major they want to pursue. Ohio State’s University Exploration program provides support and guidance to students exploring our more than 200 areas of study. Specialized advisors help students conduct self-assessments, filter through potential academic options, and connect to a desired career path and corresponding area of study.

Generally, students are required to select a major by the end of their second year. Once a student has selected a major, he or she will enroll in the college for that area of study. (In some cases, enrollment is based on meeting selective program criteria.)

When does a student enter the college of his or her choice?

Most students who have decided upon a major are enrolled directly into their degree-granting college upon admission to the university. Some are enrolled directly to their majors, while others, who have prerequisites to meet, are enrolled as pre-majors. Students who do not meet the direct enrollment criteria required to enroll in their colleges as pre-majors are enrolled in one of six meta-majors within University Exploration, where advisors guide them through self-assessment and goal analysis to help them decide on a major.

Students and families learn more about specific colleges and requirements during orientation.

Who will help my student plan a program of study?

Every student at Ohio State has an academic advisor throughout his or her college years to help with planning and completing a program of study. Students enrolling in degree-granting colleges, whether as majors or pre-majors, work with advisors who are especially familiar with their intended areas of study.

What is the student-faculty ratio at Ohio State?

Our undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 19 to 1, although class sizes at Ohio State vary a great deal. Nearly 80 percent of our freshman classes have fewer than 50 students. And, as students move into their degree programs, classes more specific to their majors are generally smaller.

While taking introductory-level courses, students are likely to have some large classes that are divided into smaller sessions -- called recitation sections -- that meet at least once a week throughout the semester.

Who will be teaching my student?

Students are generally taught by professors who are scholars in their fields. In addition, teaching associates (TAs) teach many lower-level courses while pursuing their master’s or doctoral degrees.

Our TAs are exceptional scholars. Any TA whose native language is not English must undergo a rigorous screening process and pass English proficiency tests before he or she may teach.

How long will it take my student to get a degree?

Depending upon their majors and whether they enroll full or part time, participate in a co-op or internship, or study abroad, today’s students (at Ohio State and nationwide) often take more than four years to earn their degrees. Statistically speaking, nearly 84 percent of Ohio State’s incoming first-year students graduate within six years of full-time enrollment (two semesters per year), and about 60 percent graduate within four years.

What is Ohio State’s graduation rate?

The rate varies considerably from student to student and depends on factors such as academic ability, major and economic conditions. Generally, success in high school and on the ACT or SAT is a good predictor of degree success. For example, students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school classes with high ACT or SAT scores graduate at a rate of over 90 percent.

What is Ohio State’s residency requirement?

All unmarried, full-time students within a year of high school graduation must live on campus for their first two years. Students may also live with parents or close relatives or in an approved fraternity or sorority as a means of meeting the residency requirement.

Why live in residence halls?

New students are strongly encouraged to live on campus. In addition to the friendships that develop, students living in residence halls more readily make connections to the academic community. Research shows that students who live on campus have higher grade point averages and are more likely to graduate than their off-campus peers.

Many students find campus living more rewarding when they can live with students who share their interests, lifestyle or academic commitment. A learning community is a unique residential experience that creates social, cultural, academic and/or leadership opportunities both in the classroom and across campus.

Can students choose their own roommates?

Students can request a particular roommate when they complete the housing contract. We generally can match mutually requested roommates provided information is received by the end of May. Students indicate their preferences for roommates, visitation patterns, learning communities and special accommodations on the housing contract.

When are housing contracts available?

Autumn semester housing information -- including details about living on campus and instructions for completing the online contract -- is emailed to BuckeyeMail accounts starting in mid-March in the order that acceptance fees are received. (Students manage their Ohio State Username, password and email delivery at my.osu.edu.)

When are rooms and roommates assigned?

We process housing contracts in the order we receive them. Assignments for new autumn semester students are announced beginning in mid-July. We thoroughly and thoughtfully consider each request for roommate preference, visitation pattern, learning community and accommodation.

To improve the chances of having their requests met, students should complete and return all housing materials promptly. New students are assigned 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-person rooms; students who submit their housing contracts in late April or after are generally assigned to 4-person rooms.

What amenities are offered in Ohio State’s residence halls?

Every residence hall room or suite has a cable hookup or IPTV capability with access to a wide range of channels. Plus, all (except the Alumnae Scholarship houses) are furnished with a combination refrigerator/freezer/microwave. All halls or complexes have a laundry room, study room and recreation room, and all have wireless connectivity.

Who provides support for students living in residence halls?

Ohio State’s residence halls are inclusive spaces that welcome and respect the dignity and uniqueness of all. Full-time professional staff and resident advisors live in each residence hall complex and provide leadership and assistance to students adjusting to college life. In addition, each complex has a staffed reception desk to serve residents and provide mail delivery.

Residents enjoy social activities and academic support in a safe and comfortable environment. As your student moves into the second year, the Second Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) has been designed to focus on student success and development by building strong relationships with faculty.

What about dining plans?

Ohio State offers a range of meal plans to meet the diverse needs of students. All plans are valid at Traditions (all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities) and have options for dining at over 25 other locations on campus. Visit Dining Services for plan descriptions, dining locations and menus. Meal plans expire at the end of each semester.

What is BuckID?

BuckID is your student's Ohio State identification card. It serves as the access card for meal plans and holds a debit card account balance (some meal plans include a deposit to this account) that can be used at any one of the 100+ local merchants that accept BuckID, including bookstores and dining locations, as well as for washers and dryers and vending machines. Additional deposits can be made online, over the phone or at convenient locations around campus.

Should my student have renter's insurance?

It always makes sense to protect personal belongings in the instance of flood, theft or other unexpected events that may occur in or around university housing, so residents are strongly encouraged to obtain renter’s insurance. Ohio State does not endorse any specific insurance company and recommends that you consult with your insurance provider.

Do you offer support for commuter students?

Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services provides several services for commuting students to assist them while on campus, including the commuter lounge, lockers, microwave and refrigerator, study space and information on campus programs and resources. Visit Commuter Services for information.

How safe is campus?

When you consider its geographical size, location and population size, Ohio State’s Columbus campus is a very safe place. We try to ensure the safety of the campus community by making sure the grounds are well lit, well patrolled and well traveled. Still, crime occurs on our campus, as it does on all college campuses. The university has a significant number of resources to prevent and deter crime, and we encourage students to take personal responsibility for their safety by taking advantage of these resources. Lean more about campus safety.

Who provides campus security?

The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety -- which includes University Police, Student Safety Service, Security and Protective Services, and the Emergency Management and Fire Prevention Division -- is the principal provider of security.

The department offers a wide variety of crime prevention, fire safety, emergency planning and security programs, including training in theft prevention, alcohol/drug awareness, sexual assault prevention and personal defense. Bicycle registration, a community watch program and an escort service are also part of campus safety programming.

The University Police Division is a full-service law enforcement agency, serving the campus community 24 hours a day. The Police Division is supplemented by Security and Protective Services officers who patrol residence halls and select academic buildings. Learn more about campus safety.

Does Ohio State publish safety statistics?

In compliance with the Clery Act, Ohio State publishes an annual safety report, which can be downloaded on the Department of Public Safety's Clery Act web page. (You may request a paper copy of the report by calling 614-292-8081.) The report includes crime and fire safety statistics for the previous three years, as well as institutional policies concerning campus security.

What if my student has to get around campus after dark?

The Student Safety Service, under police direction, offers a crime watch escort service called Safe Ride from approximately 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., seven days a week, during academic semesters. To use the free service, students simply call and ask for an escort from their present location to their destination. Escorts are available to any campus location and to surrounding off-campus locations.

How about safety in the residence halls?

Students are issued keys or key cards at check-in each semester, and every hall has established procedures and guidelines to help ensure the safety of its residents. All hall entrances are locked 24 hours a day, and only students carrying a current university ID are allowed to enter. Visitor and guest policies vary from hall to hall, but all hall guests must register after 9 p.m.

In addition, the halls are equipped with early- warning smoke and fire detection systems, and fire evacuation drills are conducted periodically under the guidance of the Emergency Management and Fire Prevention Division.

How are students educated about campus safety?

University police present sessions in college survey courses on public safety programs and services available, as well as on procedures and regulations students should know. The residence halls offer special programs on safety as well as on assault, theft and rape prevention.

How are students alerted about safety issues?

Ohio State's Department of Public Safety uses a variety of methods to communicate with the campus community. These include but are not limited to the Buckeye Alert System and Public Safety Notices. These methods are supported by the Department of Public Safety website, social media, traditional media and other communication channels.

How can new students prepare themselves for life at a large university?

It’s a good idea for students to make crime prevention a habit before they come to college by taking responsibility for locking doors and windows at night, always locking their car doors, and engraving valuables with a name and identification number. Most campus crimes are crimes of opportunity: crime can be reduced if students take action to deny or reduce the opportunities. Learn more about campus safety.