Campus Hacks: St. Edward's

Become the king of the hill with these tip-Topper tips

photo by Zereshk via Wikimedia Commons

Starting your journey on the Hilltop not only means you’ll be attending school in Austin, but you’ll experience a whole new world that brings endless possibilities, friendships, and memories.

First and foremost, with the Welcome Days and Anchor events right around the corner, keep an open mind and embrace all the new faces and fun opportunities. There will be plenty of chances to do so with the BBQ, Involvement Fair, and Hillfest, a back to school party on the Hilltop with music, food trucks, and fun. Introduce yourself to someone new at these events, because you’ll more than likely be seeing their faces around campus.

At St. Ed’s, there are a few quirky traditions that have been around for quite some time. One of them is that you’re not allowed to walk on the university seal located between Holy Cross Hall and Ragsdale. Some say it could lead you to bad luck. I don’t know how legit that is, but I’ve never walked on it and I graduated, so I guess I turned out all right. On the other hand, if you feel the need for some luck, take a walk to Father Foik’s bronzed plaque and rub his nose. I’m not sure why rubbing his face would lead to good fortune, but when you’re running on four hours of sleep it wouldn’t help to try.

Now it’s time to tackle the first week. Most freshmen live on campus, so it’s no trouble to just wake up, throw on a T-shirt and shorts, and make it to class on time. For those who may be commuting to campus, make sure you set plenty of time to find parking because although it’s a smaller campus, spots can be difficult to find. Tip: Try and set up your first class at around 9-9:30am (I know, that’s early), when there are still likely parking spaces near campus available. Nobody is trying to walk a marathon in this heat. On special occasions the school will set up commuter appreciation days with free bagels and coffee on the walk to class. If it’s free, it’s for me.

Now let’s talk coffee, the very thing that will keep you going for the next four years (unless you’re a tea drinker). If you’re not a coffee drinker by now, you’ll definitely become one by the end of your college career. Luckily, St. Ed’s has plenty of coffee shops to choose from; the most popular is the Jo’s Coffee in Ragsdale (the iced Turbo is the way to go). For a quick alternative, head to Hunt Hall or Doyle. If you’ve got some time to spare off-campus, check out Summer Moon Coffee Bar – it’s the perfect spot for a midday study sesh.

The walk-up counter at Home Slice Pizza (photo by John Anderson)

The cafeteria on campus isn’t too shabby, either; they offer pretty much everything from burgers to vegan/vegetarian options. Since St. Ed’s is located off Congress you’re pretty much set when it comes to the variety of delicious destinations around. P. Terry’s, Cabo Bob’s, Poke Poke, Magnolia Cafe, Home Slice, and Hopdoddy are a few of my favorite spots. Tip: Some restaurants take Topper Tender and offer discounts to students.

Walking into a classroom your first day is pretty scary. First things first: Where will you sit? That chair will forever be assigned to you, unless someone messes up the whole system halfway through the semester. The best thing about St. Ed’s, in my opinion, is the small class sizes, which I’m sure you’re familiar with by now. In class you’re not just an ID number, you’re able to build relationships with your classmates and professors. Tip: Most teachers take daily attendance. Sub-tip: All professors offer office hours – take advantage of them.

What’s awesome about this school is what it does for its students: There is always something to do and some way to be involved. My suggestion is that you do all of it and then some. Don’t spend your semester in your dorm watching Game of Thrones, though that doesn’t sound half bad. Whether it be a career fair, discussion, campus group meeting, or a basketball game, get out and show some school spirit. Tip: Build your résumé with on-campus internships or join a group.

The best advice I can give you as a St. Ed’s alum? Stay organized, stay focused, and enjoy a time in your life you’ll never forget.

Lightning-Round Tips

Barton Springs Pool (photo by John Anderson)

• Need a change of scenery? Grab a blanket and sit under any of the oak trees on campus.
• 3rd story Ragsdale and 2nd story of the Library are great study spots.
• Don’t get intimidated that you’re attending a Catholic school; St. Ed’s offers a variety of groups and classes exploring other beliefs.
• Take advantage of the study abroad programs; there are plenty of financial aid options and St. Ed’s has partnerships with many schools abroad.
• While there is no football team, the basketball and baseball games will get you on your feet.
• In need of some last-minute school supplies? The bookstore has got you covered from pencils to notebooks, all with St. Ed’s spirit on it.
• St. Ed’s celebrates homecoming with fun events like cardboard boat racing, casino night, and brunch.
• During finals week you can grab midnight breakfast, enjoy a petting zoo, and pie your professors.
• When the holidays come around, the Main Building is lit up and the Festival of Lights is celebrated.
• During the spring, St. Ed’s is the mecca for beautiful bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.
• Looking for a hobby? Crux Climbing Center across the street can fulfill all your rock climbing, yoga, and workout needs.
• Take your mind off school with an evening at Zilker Park or Barton Springs.

Want more tips about life on and off the quad? Visit The Austin Chronicle’s Guide to Campus Life.

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