FAQs for parents, guardians and families

We've collected answers to some of the most common questions we hear from parents, guardians and families. If you don't find the answer you're looking for, email us at askabuckeye@osu.edu.

What options do students have if they are undecided about a major?

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, they will enroll in the college for that area of study. (In some cases, enrollment is based on meeting selective program criteria.)

When do students enter the college of their 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. Undecided students are enrolled in University Exploration (see above).

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 a guide — their academic advisor. These highly trained and caring staff members 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 18 to 1, although class sizes at Ohio State vary a great deal. Nearly 80% of our first-year 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. At all times, students have access to their professors and teaching assistants through weekly office hours.

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 they may teach.

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

Depending upon their major 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, 88% of Ohio State’s undergraduates graduate within six years of full-time enrollment (two semesters per year), and more than 70% graduate within four years.

What is Ohio State’s residency requirement?

All unmarried, full-time students within two years 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.

Transfer students who graduated from high school in 2022 are required to live on campus, contingent on space availability. Housing for all other transfer students is not guaranteed and is dependent upon space availability. Housing information is emailed to BuckeyeMail accounts on a rolling basis depending on date of acceptance fee payment and space availability in university residences.

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 living-learning community is a unique residential experience that creates social, cultural, academic and/or leadership opportunities both in the classroom and across campus. The application is due April 15.

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 contracts and roommate requests are received by the end of May. Students indicate their preferences for roommates, visitation patterns, living-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. There is limited availability for 1-, 2- and 3-person rooms. Most new students 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 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, dining locations 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 Engagement 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.

How safe is campus and the surrounding area?

Ohio State’s Columbus campus is a very safe place, especially when you consider its geographical size, location and population size. We enhance campus safety by making sure the grounds are well lit, well patrolled and well traveled. Still, crime occurs on and around 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.

Who provides campus security?

The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety includes sworn police and divisions of trained security officers (non-sworn) for the academic campus and the Wexner Medical Center. These personnel are supplemented by part-time security officers and student officers, as well as significant technology that allows our dispatchers and security teams to monitor campus and assist our police officers.

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.

The Ohio State University Police Division is a full-service law enforcement agency and holds CALEA accreditation, and accreditation from the State of Ohio Collaborative, meaning it follows the highest standards. Learn more about campus safety.

How about safety in the residence halls?

In addition to routinely patrolling the campus area, security officers conduct evening and overnight patrols in the residence hall districts seven days a week. All residence halls are locked 24-hours a day and are equipped with swipe access on exterior doors. Visitors and guests must be accompanied by a resident while in the residence hall.

In addition, residence 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.

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

Ohio State offers free Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) on and around campus. Lyft Ride Smart at Ohio State offers students discounted rides inside the university-designated service area and along High Street to the Short North area from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

During the day, CABS On-Demand provides transportation between areas west of Olentangy River and three campus bus stops: RPAC, Baker Systems and Watts Hall. Overnight, CABS On-Demand provides transportation between campus buildings.

How are students educated about campus safety?

Among the initiatives:

  • 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, and the University Police Division typically offers Community Police Academy and empowerment and self-defense classes each semester.
  • University police make available a wide range of programming and resources to educate the campus community about how to properly respond to possible threats or emergency situations on campus.
  • We encourage all students to take the Stay Safe, Buckeyes online class to learn about the many safety tools and resources available at Ohio State.

How are students alerted about safety issues?

The university uses emergency alerts and crime notices. Sign up for Buckeye Alerts.

Does Ohio State publish safety statistics?

Ohio State publishes a daily crime log. Also, in compliance with the Clery Act, Ohio State publishes an annual safety report, which can be found on the Department of Public Safety's Clery Act web page. Off-campus crime reports can be found on the Columbus Division of Police website or by visiting the Community Crime Map.

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 not leaving valuables in cars, 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. See more safety tips.