New students' questions answered

Thursday, July 30, 2009 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:40 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 30, 2009

You might be worried that your first semester at MU will be intimidating and confusing. 

To help ease concerns, students and staff have answered common questions that freshmen asked during MU's Summer Welcome 2009.  

I have a midterm exam, and I want to stay late in the library studying.  How do I get back to my place safely?

According to a 2007 Campus Safety and Crime report released by MU police, MU is a relatively safe area with low levels of crime.  However, there are still a number of ways to make sure you get home safely at night.

The MU evening shuttle runs in 20-minute intervals from 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, while service on Sunday begins at midday and continues until 1:30 a.m. 

All three routes start at Brady Commons, near the University Bookstore at the center of campus. 

The eastbound service runs to Frances Quadrangle and back. The westbound service goes to Tiger Diggs on Campusview Drive and back, and a third service loops around the northern half of the campus. 

The full map can be found on the city of Columbia's Web site.

Students can also call the non-emergency MU police number, 882-7201, for an escort from any location on campus to their residence hall, said Adam Duncan of the MU police.

Another program is STRIPES, a student-run organization under the Department of Student Services that provides free transportation for MU students from anywhere in Columbia back to their residences, no questions asked. 

STRIPES operates from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Students may call 442-9672 between those hours to speak with an operator, who will take their information and location, and pass it on to a driver. 

Because STRIPES can get quite busy, there may be some delay before a driver arrives. But STRIPES representatives say drivers will take home every student who calls before 3 a.m.

If students encounter a threatening or potentially dangerous situation on campus, more than 170 emergency phones are scattered across campus, according to MU police. 

Many of these phones are marked with a red pole and a blue light.  Students can press the red button at any of these locations to place a call, and a MU police officer should be there within two to five minutes.  

I’m going home for the holidays, but I don’t have a car.  What are my travel options?

Two shuttle bus services are available to take passengers from Columbia to surrounding cities and back again.  

The MO-X airport shuttle operates out of Columbia with 12 round trips daily to St. Louis, and five round trips to Kansas City.  The shuttle costs as little as $43 one-way.

A passenger can be picked up and dropped off at the MO-X office in Columbia, at 303 Business Loop 70 E., to travel to and from either St. Louis-Lambert International Airport or Kansas City International Airport. 

Door-to-door service, with pick-up and drop-off at any location in Columbia, costs an extra $8 one-way.  To find more information or to book a ride, go to

Megabus is a low-cost express service from Columbia to Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago. 

Depending on how early you book, fares can be as low as $1 for a one-way journey.  There is just one service daily each way from Columbia to all three cities. 

Buses arrive and depart from Wabash Station at 126 N. Tenth St., on the corner of Tenth and Ash streets.  For more information or to make a reservation, go to

Northwest Airlines runs six flights daily, three each way (two on Saturdays), between Columbia Regional Airport and Memphis International Airport, where a passenger can connect to flights heading to destinations around the country. 

Columbia Regional Airport is located approximately 10 miles south of town, off of U.S. 63.  For more details, go to the Columbia Regional Airport Web site.

Alex Ruppenthal, a Summer Welcome 2009 leader who is to be a junior at MU this fall, suggested carpooling with other college students as a cheap way to get home. 

Notices are posted on communal boards at some residence halls in an effort to connect students from common hometowns such as St. Louis and Chicago, he said.  Students may save money by sharing gas and may even make great new friends.

What kind of facilities can I expect in my residence hall?

All residence halls have air conditioning. Some is central and some is composed of window units. 

Food options typically include either a kitchen in the hall, a food outlet or a dining hall nearby. 

Most halls have wireless Internet in common area such as lounges, dorm halls have computing sites with computers and printers, and all rooms have a high-speed Ethernet connection — you must bring or buy an Ethernet cord.  

Similarly, you can connect to cable TV in your room, but you need a cable-ready TV and connection cord. 

Laundry facilities vary. Some halls have washing machines and dryers, but if your hall does not, machines will be either in a nearby residence hall or in a common area shared by residence halls in your area.

You can visit the Department of Residential Life Web site for more details about facilities at each location.

What should I to bring to furnish my dorm?

You should definitely bring bedding and linen, clothes hangers, a laundry basket and detergent, plus cleaning supplies and equipment such as a small vacuum and broom.  An alarm clock could also help to make sure you get up on time for class.

You might want to check with your roommate before buying or bringing larger items. 

Dorms often restrict students to one of such items per room. Students are usually allowed only one mini-refrigerator and microwave, for example.  The mini-refrigerator must be 4.5 cubic feet or fewer, and the microwave must be 1,000 watts or fewer. 

Other things to discuss with a roommate include rugs and curtains, and any large electronic devices such as televisions, sound systems, DVD players and game consoles.   

Summer Welcome 2009 leaders Alex Ruppenthal and Kassie Hyde had advice about large items of furniture. 

“Make sure it fits through your doorway,”  Ruppenthal said. Hyde added that you can check the floor plans for a dorm room to get an idea of what will fit.  Floor plans for each residence hall are available from MU's Department of Residential Life.

You should also be aware that you need to get approval before bringing your favorite pet. Additionally, some kinds of pets are not allowed in residence halls.  You can have certain cooking appliances such as toasters, coffee makers and rice steamers.  But you can’t have appliances with exposed heating elements, such as toaster ovens.  Some lamps are allowed, but those with halogen globes have to be 300 watts or fewer and have an attached safety basket.  No multi-headed lamps, space heaters, candles or incense are allowed.  

Absolutely no alcohol, illicit drugs or weapons should be brought into the residence halls.  

I’m having trouble adjusting to college life and am feeling stressed and anxious.  Who can help?

The MU Counseling Center at 119 Parker Hall,  on south Sixth Street, has information and tip sheets on how to cope with many difficult situations, including how to adjust to life on campus and being away from home.  You can drop by anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year.  

David Wallace, director of the counseling center, said staff can help students with stress and anxiety, depression, relationship problems, adjusting to college, grief and other issues.

To talk to a counselor, call 882-6601 or go to the center in person to set up a confidential appointment.  All undergraduate students are entitled to 12 sessions a year as part of their fees.  

The center also has crisis therapists on call to help during open hours, available at the above number.  For urgent counseling needs after-hours, students may call the Mid-Missouri Crisis Hotline at 800-395-2132 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

I’m having trouble with my academic program.  Whom should I see?  

An academic adviser should be your first port of call for questions or discussing problems with academic life, whether it's about a program of study or a personal or social matter.

One academic adviser is assigned to each undergraduate student.  Advisers are listed on myZou. Go to "Student Center," then find the "adviser" link on the left-hand column. Appointments with an adviser can be arranged directly by phone or e-mail.

An academic adviser can go over a problem with you and help figure out an appropriate solution. If they are not the best person for a particular situation, they can point you to suitable resources.  

To find out more about academic advising, go to MU's undergraduate advising Web site.

I’m struggling in class.  Where can I get help with my assignments and papers?

The Learning Center, located at 100 Student Success Center on Lowry Mall, offers free tutoring services for all undergraduates. 

Staff hold weekly small group sessions for students on a number of classes and subjects including mathematics, sciences and languages. For a full schedule of weekly sessions go to  Center representatives can also help students find one-on-one tutors for specific subjects.

The Learning Center Writing Lab provides tutors to help students work through  assignments, direct them to resources for research and help revise and polish academic papers.  The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. An appointment can be booked by visiting the Learning Center's Web site  or by calling 882-2496.

An online Writery is available for submitting requests for a cyber-tutor anytime during the semester.  You should expect to receive a response within 24 hours except on weekends and holidays. More information is available on the MU Writery's Web site. 

Sources: MU police  

MU Parking and Transportation Services


MO-X Airport Shuttle Service


Columbia Regional Airport

MU Department of Residential Life

MU Counseling Center

MU Undergraduate Advising

Student Success Center: The Learning Center

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