Information for Incoming Students

You’re moving away from home for the first time, and everything can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through the housing process.

Important Housing Dates for 2022-2023

June 1:

July 1: Resident students who will be less than 18 years old when they arrive for fall semester must complete the following forms and email to

Late June-Late July: Housing & Roommate Assignment information emailed via Otterbein email.

Wednesday, August 17: New Student Move-In, 9 a.m.- Noon.

Wednesday-Sunday, November 23-26: Dining Hall closed for Thanksgiving Break.

Friday, December 9: Residence Halls close for winter break at 6 p.m.

Sunday, January 8: Residence Halls re-open for spring semester at Noon.

Friday, April 28: Residence Halls close for summer break at 6 p.m.

Meal Plan Options

Otterbein offers three flexible block meal plans. Each of the block plans gives you a number of meals to use in the Cardinal’s Nest and The OtterDen. Each block plan also includes a number of Cardinal Dollars to be used in the OtterBean Café, The OtterDen, or the Cardinal’s Nest. Meals do not carry over from term to term. Cardinal Dollars do carryover from fall to spring semester if a student maintains a full block plan. At the end of each semester, all leftover Meals are removed from the student’s account. At the end of spring semester, all Cardinal Dollars are removed from the student’s account.

  • 210 Block Meal Plan & $150 Cardinal Dollars
  • 150 Block Meal Plan & $225 Cardinal Dollars
  • 120 Block Meal Plan & $260 Cardinal Dollars

Otterbein’s fourth meal plan, the Cardinal Plan, allows a student to eat one meal during each dining period the Cardinal’s Nest is open (breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends). This plan allows a student to eat up to 19 meals a week, but requires the student eat during specific meal hours for each meal. (For example, to eat breakfast, a student must enter the dining hall from 7:15 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. After 10:00 a.m., the breakfast meal will be gone for the day.) This plan does not include any Cardinal Dollars and can only be used in the Cardinal’s Nest or the OtterDen for a meal. It’s less flexible than the block plans, but offers lots of meals for the student who enjoys a hearty breakfast most days along with lunch and dinner every day.

To find the current cost for each meal plan, see the Fee Schedule & Payment on the Business Affairs web site.

Otterbein’s dining service, Parkhurst Dining, prepares locally-produced, made-from-scratch food for fresh and flavorful meals. You can select from in-season fruits and vegetables; soups, sauces, and salad dressings made from scratch daily; cooked-to-order eggs and omelets for breakfast and a different made-to-order entrée each day for lunch.

By opting for locally-sourced foods and ingredients, we support the local economy, including Ohio farmers and dairies. We purchase fruits, vegetables, cage-free eggs, honey, cheese, free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, and ice cream all from Ohio producers.

We give you healthy options at every meal with many low in fat, carbohydrates, and sodium. Our V2 station offers special vegetarian and vegan options for lunch & dinner while our Inspired Eats station offers entrees and sides prepared without the most common allergens (wheat gluten, cow’s milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish).

Since we make most of our food from scratch, we can accommodate most special dietary needs with advance notice. Just contact the Director Dining Services, Bill Cochrane, at 614-823-1855 for more information or email him at

Room Assignments & Roommates

New students are assigned a roommate or roommates. Room assignments for first year and transfer students are made based on information provided on the housing form. The student must complete this form thoroughly and honestly. Assignments are made without regard to race, creed, religion, color, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Roommate information, including name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of your roommate(s), will be sent via email to your Otterbein account approximately a month prior to the beginning of the school year. Contact your roommate and communicate openly prior to coming to Otterbein University.

Tips for Talking to your New Roommate

  • Key Factors – Communicating with your roommate is probably the biggest factor in getting along. Roommate issues are often unintentional misunderstandings and roommates are willing to work the problem out. Mutual respect, understanding, consideration and compromise are important.
  • Keep an Open Mind – Since you probably do not know your roommate, you may not know what to expect. Remember, your roommate may have different values, beliefs and customs. Differences can be exciting learning opportunities. A roommate agreement will be completed about a week after you move into the halls. Discuss this form with your roommate, fill it out together and share a copy with your Resident Assistant (RA). Keep a copy in your room so you can refer to it if issues arise.
  • Best Roommates Aren’t Always Best Buddies – You were placed together because you share the same living style, not necessarily the same interests. The fact you both love football will not mean a whole lot if one of you likes to get up early and one of you likes to sleep in!

Key Roommate Discussion Items

Think about the following items and then talk them over with your roommate(s):

  • What are your study habits?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • When do you need to be alone?
  • How do you feel about sharing and borrowing?
  • Which activities were you involved in before you came to Otterbein?
  • How do you hope to get involved at college?
  • What would you tell someone about your family or hometown?
  • How do you describe your friends from home?
  • What are your personal preferences, habits & characteristics?

Incoming students may request to room with another new student attending Otterbein University by completing the Mutual Roommate Request section on the Housing form.

Tips for First-Year Students

Helpful Tips for Moving In

The residence halls will open for new students the Wednesday before Fall Semester. Check-in will occur in the Campus Center Lounge beginning at 9 a.m.. Please check in by Noon to have enough time to unpack and settle before New Student Week begins at 4:00 p.m.

When you arrive on campus, park near the building where you’ll live to unload your car on the sidewalk, then please move your car to a space in a parking lot. If there are no available spaces to unload on a sidewalk, please park in a parking lot near the building. PLEASE observe parking rules such as not parking on sidewalks, in the grass or in fire lanes.

While family unloads the car, students should come to the Campus Center to do the official room check-in. This will involve receiving your Cardinal Card ID, your room key and signing paperwork. If you need to bring a completed Health Form, please bring with you to the Campus Center.

When you enter your room, review the condition of everything in your room according to the Pink Room Inventory you receive at check-in. If there are any discrepancies, please return the Pink Room Inventory to your Resident Assistant (RA) or your Hall Director (HD) within 12 hours.

Once you’ve moved in your belongings, feel free to stop by the Bookstore to purchase books or the Police Department to pick up your parking decal.

Packing Tips

When preparing to pack for college, be sure to contact your roommate and double check you are not bringing too much. Here is a suggested Packing List (PDF).