When Ashley Hicks began her college career at MU, she made sure she had a map.
“Maps are your best friend,” the senior said, grinning. “After a couple of weeks, you can find everything.”
Armed with maps, you can walk, ride or drive around campus and downtown with confidence. Take one from Jesse Hall before you start exploring.
Many students choose to walk. On weekdays between 8:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. the center of campus is closed to traffic, leaving the roads free for roaming.
“When I was a freshman, I walked like three miles a day,” said Claire Brockmeier.
If walking around campus leaves you at the steps of the wrong building, MU students have a tip.
“Just walk up and ask people,” Brockmeier said.
Sudie McCaslin, a junior, believes freshman should not hesitate to ask for help if they need it.
“It’s pretty overwhelming coming to a campus this big,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to talk to the upperclassmen.”
The day before his first semester began, Philip Makarewicz, now a senior, got out a map and walked around campus to find his classes.
According to David Rielley, the director of New Student Programs, new freshmen this year will get a chance to do this as well.
“The C.A.s and P.A.s (community advisers and peer advisers) in the residence halls will take students out the day before classes start,” he said. “They will say ‘bring your class schedules and we will find your classes.’ ”
Downtown Columbia is close enough to campus for walking. The northern border of campus is lined with coffee shops and cafes, leading straight into the shopping district.
Jamon Kimbrough, a freshman, walks to the entertainment venues and stores there. “Everything is generally within walking distance,” Kimbrough said.
Many students ride their bikes around campus and downtown Columbia. Bike corrals can be found outside most residence halls and college buildings. They are also scattered on the main streets downtown.
Remember to register your bike with the MU Police Department. It is a free service and can be done online at or in person at 901 Virginia Ave.
“I bike here every day,” said senior Curt Branson. “It takes me 35 minutes to get here, and then I have a shower at the sports and rec center before class or work. (The council is) pretty good about bikes in Columbia.”
The city encourages people to ride bikes. GetAbout Columbia, a group chaired by Mayor Darwin Hindman, aims to create an environment that suits both walkers and cyclists.
There are sessions for the public such as “Bike Skills 101,” which teaches riders road positioning and how to ride safely in traffic. This three-hour session costs $10. For more information go to getaboutcolumbia.com.
GetAbout Columbia’s Web site also pinpoints dangerous areas for bike riders.
Biking around has its advantages. For one, it is fast. “If you are around campus, you can pretty much get everywhere in seven our eight minutes,” Branson said.
Waez Faruque, a junior, agreed. “If you have a bike, you get around a lot quicker.”
For students who want to drive or keep a car on campus, there are several options. Jim Joy, director of MU parking and Transportation Services, said parking at MU is like any other city. There are 24,000 parking spaces, but 30,000 to 35,000 vehicles drive to the campus each day.
To park on campus, you must have a permit or feed change to a meter. Permits can be purchased online, Joy said. Students are assigned based on their class level and time of application.
Freshmen generally park in less-convenient lots on the outskirts of the campus, but there are shuttles to take them into the campus center.
“There are shuttle buses running from 7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m," Joy said. Throughout the semester, buses operate at 20-minute intervals, and the routes vary depending on time of day.
More information is available at parking.missouri.edu.
Joy also suggested that students reconsider bringing a car to campus.
“You do not need a car to be successful,” he said. “Often students that are truly successful are those that are more involved and stay on campus over the weekend.”
He recommended that parents and students discuss having a car after first semester, when the students know how they are doing academically.
Metered parking is also available. The cost is 70 cents for every 75 minutes and can be paid with a student ID card, cash or a CashKey.
A CashKey is a programmable key which replaces the need for loose change. It can be purchased from Parking and Transportation Services and loaded with a minimum of $25.
CashKeys are like quarters and are inserted into the meter as many times as necessary to pay for parking time.
Meghan McGhee, a senior, said she uses a CashKey on campus.
"I always recommend it," she said.
Columbia is also accessible in transit buses. The system map marks the six routes operating throughout the city.
Times of operation vary, but most buses run from 6:25 a.m. to 6:25 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 6:25 a.m. to 10:25 p.m., Thursday and Friday; and 9:45 a.m. to 10:25 a.m., Saturday.
The buses do not run on Sundays. Students pay 50 cents for the bus and can purchase a seven-day FASTPass for $5 at Wabash station, 126 N. Tenth St.
Finding your way around campus and downtown is easier with a map, McCaslin said, but always "be willing to ask for help if you get lost."