A Guide to “The College Life” in Ohio

(Thankfully it’s not Michigan.)
Written by Andrew Bowsher
Written by Andrew Bowsher

Insurance doesn’t have to be boring — that’s what Andrew always says. He specializes in making sense of mundane subjects, and delivering answers to the insurance questions everyday families need.

College guide to the University of Ohio

Welcome to college in Ohio. Whether you’re brand new around here or you’ve been as tough as a Buckeye your whole life, you’re in for a real treat.

To help get you all settled in and ready for the road ahead, we’ve put together this guide to prep you for life around the state that puts the extra in extracurricular. So, let's get into it.

Chapter One: Ohio Conversation Starters

Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to Ohio is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with a real-life Buckeyes you gotta know a thing or two about 'em first. You can't just spout off a bunch of facts from the state's Wikipedia page on population and state birds and all and expect to fit in — you gotta go for a way, way deeper dive. 

When trying to assimilate to local culture, try a few of these conversation starters out:

  • “T.T.U.N.” Ohio residents don’t think much of the University of Michigan, and they like to speak even less of them. To avoid ever mentioning their name, they’ve come up with this abbreviation for “That Team Up North.”
  • When someone says “O-H,” you better say “I-O.” Obviously that spells “Ohio” and is a battle cry, and often a greeting, around these parts.
  • “Skyline or Gold Star?” Mostly just in Cincinnati resides an undying love for Cincinnati chili. This sophisticated form of chili includes cinnamon and chocolate in some cases, with spaghetti noodles under it, and it’s incredible. Throw on some beans, onions, and cheese and you’ve got yourself a 5-way feast. And when it comes to Ohio rivalries, the rivalry between Skyline and Gold Star comes in a close second to OSU and T.T.U.N..

Chapter Two: Where To Crash

If you’re not already set on living in the dorms, you’re going to need to know where to lay your ever-growing head at night. So let’s talk about the hot rentals around the area.

According to rentcafe.com, the home of THE Ohio State University, Columbus, has the average apartment going for about $941/month. In Athens, home to one of the country’s ultimate party schools, Ohio University,  you’ll find rent a bit more, averaging about $1,467/month. But of course that’s right inside the city, and you can probably even find lower prices out in a number of nearby cities for less.

PRO TIP: If you put, like, two to three bunk beds in every room and grab a bunch more roommates, your rent will be dirt cheap!

Chapter Three: What's with These Locals?

To live among the folks of Ohio, it’s best if you understand them. And when it comes to first impressions, the people here claim they're some of the nicest you'll ever meet, and that they make the friendliest neighbors. In fact, one Ohioan stated on movoto.com that it feels "sort of like Leave it to Beaver, across the whole state." Everyone wants to be your friend in Ohio.

The world's largest Amish community lives in Ohio — with about 70,000 members. So it's not uncommon to be out and about and see a horse-drawn buggy (or 12) along the side of the road.

The state's capital, Columbus, is said to be a bit of a hipster college town. Ohio State University fans are often called crazy and obnoxious — but they are some of the proudest and most loyal fans around. And if you’re ever near the campus on a Saturday during a home game, you’ll see that firsthand.

Chapter Four: Where To “Study” Around Town

Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into Ohio life, it’s time to focus on those studies. But everyone knows how distracting roommates, video games, and fridges can be when you’re trying to focus. So why not try some of the great sights and local hot spots for a little study sesh? Here are a few places we recommend:

  • Like, anywhere on THE Ohio State campus: Thompson Library. Ohio Union. Orton Hall. Faculty Hall. Buckeye Grove. University Hall. Mirror Lake. Just pick your favorite. The university has been around since 1870 and it’s huge. It’s packed with incredible buildings, sights, and spots that are perfect for getting a little work done, no matter if you actually go there or not.
  • Jeni’s Ice Cream: Grab some friends and get a nice little study group together to share some of the BEST ice cream in the world. Heck, if this is all it takes to get a little studying done, this semester will be a cake walk.
  • German Village: Probably the coolest part of Columbus, German Village is home to breweries, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, shopping, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. It’s easily the hipster-iest part of the city, with tons of great spots for making some pretty serious dents in your studies.

Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around Ohio

One of the best things about college is the weekends. And Ohio has plenty of incredible things to do, see, smell, and eat, to rest your mind from all that studying you’ve been doing. Here are a few of our favorite local things to do:

  • Hocking Hills State Park: Located not far from Logan, this state park is full of caves to explore, cabins to camp in, waterfalls to marvel at, ziplines to whoosh across, trails to hike, and lakes to canoe/kayak. Gorgeous.
  • Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo: The Columbus Zoo no doubt offers an amazing day trip experience with its 9,000 animals and 650 species from around the world, but the real attraction happens during the holiday season — the wildlights (also referred to by locals as "zoolights"). Colorful lights are strewn throughout the entire zoo and lit up after exhibits close down in the evening. There's even a lightshow or two set to music.
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Cleveland has the largest house of rock 'n roll in the country — the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrates and archives the legacy of some of the most well-known and influential artists, producers, and other historical figures who’ve inspired the music.
  • A Christmas Story House Museum: You can explore Ralphie's house in the flesh and witness original props, costumes, and memorabilia from the film. The museum also offers hundreds of rare, behind-the-scenes photos of the cast and crew. You'll see toys from Higbee's, the pink bunny suit and, of course, the infamous leg lamp. Just don't touch it — remember, it's "fra-gee-lay."
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame: Football fans, rejoice - the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton features shrines of the biggest names in NFL history - from players, to coaches, to franchise owners and front-office personnel. The museum's mission is to "Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values and Celebrate Excellence Everywhere." Put on your cleats, plan a visit and see for yourself. 
  • Ohio Stadium: You really owe it to yourself to see a game here once in your life. The third-largest stadium in the country, this place gets loud and rowdy. Especially for the last game of the season against *ichigan, but don’t go when your little brother is in town visiting, it’s definitely rated R around here.

Chapter Six: The Post-College Job Scene

Maybe you know exactly what you want to do after graduation, or maybe you’re still undeclared. Either way, we’re so sure you’re going to want to stick around after the ceremony that we should probably talk about the local job market and which careers are hot right now around town.

About 36,055 people move to The Buckeye State every year, which is a bit on the low side for growth, though it’s quite consistent with the rest of the Midwest. Despite this, Ohio still has a pretty impressive population of 11,694,664. So then what does everyone do for work?

For starters, the state's unemployment rate is 4.7%, which has been on a fairly steady decline since 2009, when it was 10.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's minimum wage is $8.30/hour, according to minimum-wage.org.

Some of the fastest-growing job fields, as listed by zippia.com, include: occupational therapist, home health aide, physical therapist, statistician, nurse practitioner, and operations analyst. The highest-paid positions include anesthesiologist, orthodontist, surgeon, OB/GYN, CEO, psychiatrist, and dentist. There's certainly plenty to choose from for those with a love of the medical field.

Chapter Seven: Bring Your Best Scarlets and Grays, ‘Cuz Here You Come

Alright folks, there you have it — your supremely helpful, though far-from-complete, guide to Ohio college life. It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move, but we hope we helped you get the ball rolling.

Good luck. And remember, it’s “O-H,” followed by “I-O.”

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