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13 Things to Know When Attending Ohio State University

13 Things to Know When Attending Ohio State University

By Patrick Galvan

Ohio State University, based in Columbus, Ohio, is well known for its football team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Having recently won the College Football Playoff National Championship for the eighth time, campus pride is higher than ever. While the football program is a major source of school spirit and tradition, OSU has many other elements which make it an outstanding place to earn a degree. Here are some things to know when attending OSU if you plan to the make the most of your college experience as a Buckeye.


1. Bring Your Walking Shoes

Ohio State University student union and lawn

The Ohio Union at Ohio State University. Photo by marada.

In a word, the Columbus campus is large. With more than 1,700 acres and 451 buildings, you can plan on getting your exercise just walking to all of your classes and events. For freshmen, this is especially true since first-year students who live on campus are not permitted to have cars at school. Don’t worry, though, there is an extensive campus bus system to help you get where you need to be. Ohio State is also huge in terms of enrollment. With more than 57,000 students at the Columbus campus, it’s one of the most populated schools in the nation.


2. Top-Ranked Academics Get You in the Game

Ohio State University architecture building

Knowlton School of Architecture building. Photo by stu_spivack.

Among the 175 majors available at Ohio State, many of the programs are nationally recognized for their merit. Many departments in the Fisher College of Business and the College of Education and Human Ecology are ranked among the top 10 programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The geography department, the history department, and the political science department have also been ranked in the nation’s top 10 by various organizations. The engineering program and industrial design program are both highly rated and the School of Law and School of Medicine are nationally recognized. Overall, the university was named the 18th best public university in the country by U.S. News & World Report this year. This might explain the high retention rate of students at OSU, which boasts a 92% return rate for first-year students.


3. Carmen Ohio, Sing It Loud and Proud


One beloved campus tradition at Ohio State is singing Carmen Ohio, a song written by former OSU athlete and glee club singer Fred Cornell in the early 20th century. To this day, more than one hundred years since its debut, the Buckeyes still join their fans in singing Carmen Ohio at the end of every football game, win or lose. It is a grandiose reminder of the camaraderie between everyone at OSU. Other traditional campus songs include Across the Field, Buckeye Battle Cry, and Hang on Sloopy.


4. The Best Damn Marching Band in the Land


Another longtime tradition which can still be witnessed at OSU is Script Ohio, a formation performed by the school’s marching band. In celebration of the football game, the band steps out onto the field and forms the cursive signature for all to see. With each formation, a sousaphone player “dots the i” in Ohio.


5. Lucky Buckeyes on the Field and in the Classroom

Ohio buckeyesAs you know, OSU’s football team is called the Buckeyes, Ohio is called the Buckeye State, and Ohio residents are sometimes referred to as Buckeyes themselves. Where did this signature nickname come from? In actuality, a buckeye is a nut-bearing tree native to the region. There is an old legend that carrying a buckeye nut in your pocket brings good luck and can even serve as a way to relieve pain. Legend or not, it is a charming statewide tradition, and carrying one just might give you a little extra confidence before you head off for that big exam!


6. Tradition Grows in Buckeye Grove

Ohio State University Buckeye Grove

Ohio Stadium as seen from Buckeye Grove. Photo by Sam Howzit.

Ever since 1934, OSU has repeated a tradition which honors its All-American football players while helping the environment at the same time. When a Buckeye player achieves this monumental status, a tree is planted near Ohio Stadium in an area known as Buckeye Grove. To date, nearly 200 trees have been planted there, and that number will continue to grow as the years go by.


7. Famous Foes: Ohio State and Michigan

Ohio State vs. Michigan football game

Ohio State vs. Michigan football in 2013. Photo by Michael Barera | CC BY-SA 4.0.

When it comes to rivalries in college sports, few match the storied competition between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines. In fact, this rivalry is regularly labeled by ESPN as one of the greatest rivalries in contemporary athletics. Every year, the two college teams collide in what could be the most anticipated college game in the country.


8. Taking the Plunge in the Mirror Lake Jump


During Michigan Week, preceding the contentious game with the Wolverines, many OSU students make the leap in an event known as the Mirror Lake Jump. Thousands of students deliberately jump into the frigid waters of a local lake before the legendary football face-off. The university itself does not endorse this event and encourages students not to participate, but the tradition continues, as more than 10,000 people gathered this past November to take the plunge. Recognizing the popularity of the event, the university administration has taken precautions to curb injuries by setting up gates and allowing access only to those physically fit to jump. Even so, students jump “at their own risk” in this chilly celebration that has been going on for years.


9. In the Fan Zone with Block “O”

Ohio State Block O

Block O in Ohio Stadium. Photo by Hmwith.

Among the 1,100 student organizations at Ohio State, one of the most beloved and recognized groups is Block “O.” Originally conceived in 1938 by cheerleader Clancy A. Isaac, Jr., the group uses anything from decorated cards to shirts to form the shape of a giant white O in the crowd during important games. Since its inception, the Block “O” has extended its support the school’s basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling teams.


10. The “O-H! I-O!” Chant

Ohio State students spell O-H-I-O with Warren Buffet

Ohio State business students with Warren Buffett. Photo by Aaron Friedman.

The “O-H! I-O!” chant is a great visceral representation of unity amongst OSU students. It began as a cheer enunciated during football games (and remains so today) but has since evolved to an everyday method of student communicating their school pride. When you call out “O-H!” anywhere on campus, you are bound to heard a reply of “I-O!” from somewhere nearby. It’s also very popular to spell out the state name with arm gestures, as these business students demonstrate with Warren Buffet.


11. Fun at the Oval, the Heart of Campus

The Oval at Ohio State University

The Oval is a popular area for socializing and relaxing. Photo by marada.

In the center of OSU’s Columbus campus, surrounded by groves of beautiful trees, is a crisscross of paved pathways known as the Oval. Here students may talk between classes, read a book, lounge in the sun, and study in groups. Sometimes school activities such as student body pictures, food gatherings, and other events take place here. It is not uncommon to see the Men’s Glee Club, after their classes have ended, entertaining people at the Oval. One OSU tradition says if you take the “Long Walk” from the seal at the east end of the Oval to the William Oxley Thompson statue on the west end holding hands with your loved one, you’ll be together forever. Whether you want to socialize or just have some peace and quiet, the Oval is the place to spend your spare time at OSU.


12. Dance ‘til You Drop at the BuckeyeThon


OSU students know how to turn working for a good cause into a great time! Every year, students organize and participate in the BuckeyeThon, a 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for the Hematology/Oncology/BMT Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. The funds are used to fight pediatric cancer and pay the medical expenses of children in need, and the fun is non-stop at this elaborate fundraising event. In addition to the dance marathon, students organize a 5K run, a campus carnival, and a fashion show to support the cause. Last year, students raised more than $767,000 through the dance marathon alone!


13. Reaching for Excellence: OSU Research Programs

university research

Students participate in many research projects at OSU.

As a student, one of the best ways to advance your knowledge in your chosen field is to join the experts in answering current and relevant questions through active research. OSU is home to a number of leading research centers. The Byrd Polar Research Center is internationally championed as a leading force in polar and alpine studies. Want to join the effort to discover and develop new, sustainable sources of energy? OSU’s Office of Energy and Environment is constantly working toward those very goals.


Is there another Ohio State tradition or event that should make the list? Let us know in the comments below!