Dear incoming Chico State freshmen 


Student standing in hallway while holding book. Taken on Dec. 16, 2017 by Anastasiya Gepp. Photo from Pexels

The idea of growing up and leaving home to begin college can be daunting, especially when you’re 17 or 18-years-old and navigating an unfamiliar campus. The pressure to adjust quickly to a new way of life, all while the expectation to do well in challenging courses looms above is a lot to manage. Though every student gets the hang of their new routine at their own pace, the transition to college life in Chico will be much smoother with this guide. 

The dorm life social scene is a favorite part of freshman year. Living with other students is a great opportunity to socialize Some dorms such as Whitney and Sutter Hall are perceived to be more social than others. During a typical weekend, dorm doors will be open, music will be playing and gatherings will occur. 

Other dorms such as Mechoopda and Konkow Hall are known to house student-athletes since they are located close to the tracks and fields. The student’s individual needs will depend on which dorm they live in. Though it may be uncomfortable to branch out, remember everyone is in the same boat looking to make friends. 

Incorporating healthy habits in Chico is doable using the right resources. The Wildcat Recreation Center is a free gym for Chico State students, with various machines, equipment, recreational sports and workout classes including pilates, spin, interval training and yoga. 

The WREC also has a spacious outdoor pool and hot tub where students can participate in group aquatic exercises, swim laps or relax. Students can visit The WREC from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Chico State students at the pool.
Karissa Hodson, Emily Russell, Lauren Lion and Alexis Zenere at Chico State Recreation Center’s pool. Taken Aug. 24, 2019 by Emily Russell.

For students living on campus, a change of scenery can be refreshing and help with escaping the college bubble. Downtown Chico has dozens of shops and restaurants to explore that are walkable from any dorm on campus. Popular restaurants and stores students love include Mom’s Restaurant, Parkside Taphouse, Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill, Melody Records and For Elyse

There are also downtown events like the annual Thursday Night Market from May to September, 6 to 9 p.m. The market “features a bounty of farm-fresh produce from CDFA certified farmers, mouth-watering prepared foods from food trucks and booths, handmade, local arts and crafts, and live entertainment for all ages,” according to Explore Butte County

To escape the heat during the first and last months of school, many students float along the Sacramento River. The river’s calm water and beautiful scenery of blue skies, small islands,  playful birds and small fish make a great day to spend with friends. The Irvine Finch River Access area, about a 20-minute drive from campus, is a classic spot to start floating. There is also free parking, tube rentals and a post-float meal at Scotty’s Landing

The Sacramento River offers a variety of sandbars for individuals wanting to enjoy the water, without a float. Many students come to lay out in the sun, go for a swim and hang out with friends. 

Chico State Students at the river
Kendall Brinck, Alexis Zenere, Emily Russell and Karissa Hodson at the Sacramento River. Taken May 27, 2021 by Emily Russell.

Upper Bidwell Park is another popular destination for students to bike, hike and swim. It is unsurprising that Bear Hole is among the most talked about spots in the area. The scenic swimming hole with a natural rocky playground makes Bear Hole the perfect adventure. 

“Bear Hole can be reached from the many park trails, including the Yahi Trail, and by car along the gravel section of Upper Park Road except on Sundays and Mondays, when the road gate at Horseshoe Lake is locked,” according to Dr. Zags Questions and Facts.

Chico State student hiking.
Maddy Quinonez hiking Upper Bidwell Park. Taken Jan. 28 by Emily Russell.

Finding weekend nightlife in Chico can be tricky for incoming freshmen. Generally speaking, most nightlife for students under 21 consists of fraternity parties or close-knit house parties. The best way to find fraternity parties is through expanded social networking. 

Attend dorm events, join a club, follow other students on social media and talk to people in dorms, the gym and the library. Connecting with others can help students stay in the loop of what’s happening around campus. If all else fails, walking along Ivy Street, West 3rd Street, West 4th Street and West 5th Street will almost guarantee locating nightlife. 

A big part of college is learning to be more responsible and cautious when going out. If there is one key takeaway to be learned from this guide, it is to never walk alone at night.

 “Chico is in the 28th percentile for safety, meaning 72% of cities are safer and 28% of cities are more dangerous,” according to Crime Grade

Walking with a group of people can help reduce the chance of being a victim of a crime. 

Remember- it is normal and common to feel anxious as you embark on this new chapter in life. Keep an open mind, step out of your comfort zone, believe in yourself and the rest will follow.