Advice on transportation, benefits and more

University students in Houston prepare for the start of a new academic year. The first days, weeks and months of school are filled with new faces, new classes and new environments, which keep all students busy.

Ryan Morgado, associate director of student success initiatives at Rice University, said it can take years for some students to be able to fully understand all of the resources available to them. On campus and in the city of Houston, there are many benefits and support systems that students can take advantage of.

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Here are some tips for new students to help them transition into becoming Houstonians this semester.

No car? No problem.

When arriving at the university, those who do not have a car will have to look for alternatives to get where they need to go.

One option for getting around is the Houston METRO, which offers buses and light rail lines, operating almost 24 hours a day. Student passes are available at a discounted price.

To receive one of the METRO cards, students must provide proof that they are in school. People can apply on line, by email Where in person. The city’s colleges and universities have special resources dedicated to transporting students by METRO, which has stops at certain campuses.

A subway bus stops at the Eastwood Transit Center Friday, July 8, 2022 in Houston.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle/Team Photographer

Houston’s bike share program is a more active way to get around the city. BCycle. There are over 140 stations and 600 bikes throughout the city. Some stations are on college campuses and student discounts are offered.

Zipcar also has partnerships with some universities in the city for students wishing to rent a car on a short-term basis.

For students who need to travel by air, there are two airports in Houston: George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, which is the smaller of the two and closer to downtown. University of Houston estimates taxi fare to their campus from Hobby Airport for around $30 and $50 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Explore Houston

When dining at the dining room loses its thrill, The Houston Chronicle has quite a bit resources that should be able to keep you full all semester. Food columnist Bao Ong recently moved to Houston and put together a helpful food guide to introduce you to the city. If that’s not your thing, there are also 100 other options for where to grab your next meal.

Suanny Velasquez brings plates of food to guests at Breakfast Klub Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Houston.

Suanny Velasquez brings plates of food to guests at Breakfast Klub Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Houston.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle/Team Photographer

In a city known for its food, there’s plenty to explore beyond campus borders.

Plus, there are plenty of activities and sights the city has to offer.

The university can rack up some pretty big revenue, so why not take advantage of student discounts while you can? The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences offers a discount with student card, just like the Houston Zoo. On Thursdays, a collection of seven museums offer free admission, all of which are located in Houston’s Museum District.

Visitors tour the reimagined Old Master Galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Wednesday, July 27, 2022 in Houston.
Visitors tour the reimagined Old Master Galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Wednesday, July 27, 2022 in Houston.Brett Coomer/staff photographer

Some of the popular parks in Houston include Levy Park, Buffalo Bayou Park, Memorial Park, Hermann Park which all can enjoy for free.

Stay safe on and off campus

New students should be familiar with their university’s police department and the city ​​of houston. Save campus police contact information to make it easily accessible.

There are additional offerings of campus security services, such as personal escorts if one does not feel safe walking alone at night, or various security training courses.

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Students should be wary of leaving valuables unattended or in plain sight in common areas.

New Houston residents can also sign up to receive emergency weather alerts, and browse the app store to choose their favorite from the many weather radar apps available. Knowing when to beware of floods, storms and high winds can keep you safe and comfortable.

How to register to vote

For those moving to Houston who have just reached voting age, the start of the school year offers the opportunity to register to vote in Harris County.

People can find a online registration request, and complete it or print the application and mail it. Interested people must register 30 days before the election they want to vote for, giving new Houston residents until Oct. 11 to register for the Nov. 8 election. The November election will include votes for state offices, including governor and attorney general.

Tutoring

Morgado said one of the most underutilized resources at Rice University is office hours.

Shar-day Campbell, manager of strategic enrollment communications and social media at Houston Community College, said she often informs students about academic support options.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this school offers free tutoring,” she said.

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Tutoring is available on almost every college campus, you may just need to search for it additionally.

Adapt to change

Starting at a new school and adjusting to greater autonomy is not always easy.

Speaking from a staff perspective, Campbell said at the start of the academic year there was often anxiety mixed with excitement.

“There’s always uncertainty like, oh my god, I don’t know where I’m going to park. I have to hurry up and figure out what my class will be. Do I have my books ? she says.

Starting college means a lot of changes when it comes to social circles, academics, living spaces, physical location, and more.

“While change can be scary, I encourage students to lean into their feelings and embrace change,” said Hope Pacheco, assistant dean of students at the University of Houston.

Lexi Emmons, a junior nutrition science student, selects groceries from the Cougar cupboard on the first floor of the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in the UH Wellness building on the University of Houston, Friday, July 22, 2022 in Houston.

Lexi Emmons, a junior nutrition science student, selects groceries from the Cougar cupboard on the first floor of the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in the UH Wellness building on the University of Houston, Friday, July 22, 2022 in Houston.

Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle/Staff Photographer

Her advice is to get out of your comfort zone, whether it’s attending an event on campus or introducing yourself to new people.

“Relationships are so important, and building a support network will help you through college,” Pacheco said.

College comes with inevitable ups and downs. Morgado said college is a time for making mistakes and experimenting.

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“Mistakes should be learned and not feared,” he said. “…finding something that doesn’t work brings you one step closer to finding something that works.”

Pacheco said to ask for help when you need it.

Most institutions offer free mental health counseling. Campbell said you don’t have to be in crisis to take advantage of these resources. She said mental health resources can also be used preventatively to make sure you don’t end up in a crisis.

Beyond campus-based resources in Houston Montrose Center offers support and programs for the LGBTQ community. Houston Area Women’s Center also helps those affected by sexual assault, domestic violence and sex trafficking.

There is a supportive community for those starting college or returning to school this year.

“Starting in college can be scary, but it’s also a time to grow, learn, and have fun,” Pacheco said.

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