College orientation serves as a valuable tool in facilitating the transition to higher education for incoming students. By making the most of college orientation, students can cultivate a sense of enthusiasm and anticipation for the vibrant campus life that awaits them. The primary objective of first-year orientation is to familiarize new students with the campus environment, acquaint them with the diverse range of services and resources available to support their educational journey, and offer ample opportunities to establish connections with fellow peers.
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Is college orientation mandatory?
New student orientation varies from college to college, with some schools giving you the choice to attend, and others making it mandatory. For many first-year college students, orientation is mandatory because it covers important stuff like financial aid and academic counseling. If you don’t go to orientation, it could be a bit of a hassle, especially at the beginning of your first semester.
During orientation, college departments set up specific dates and times for you to meet with faculty and advisors. So, it’s important not to miss out on these valuable face-to-face meetings! Getting appointments with the financial aid office or your academic advisor might be a bit trickier. That can mess with your ability to register for classes and limit the courses available to you.
Remember, each college has its own rules and requirements for orientation, so make sure to check what your school expects from you. Whether it’s mandatory or optional, attending orientation can make a big difference in setting you up for success in college. So, embrace the opportunity, soak up all the knowledge, and get ready to rock your freshman year!
Making College Orientation Count
College orientation can be boring, or it can be extremely useful, depending on the view you take. It can help you learn about your campus layout, meet faculty members, and chat with an academic advisor who can guide you through the jungle of course registration. You’ll uncover educational opportunities you didn’t know existed and dive into the traditions and culture that make your campus unique. It’s like a one-stop shop to get all the info you need to start your college journey.
Whether you’re a fresh-faced, first-year student, a nontraditional student, an international student, a transfer student, or even an online student rocking those virtual classes, everyone’s welcome at orientation and should attend. Just keep in mind that some schools might have separate orientations tailored to your specific student status and even online orientation if you can’t make it. Take advantage of whichever option is available to you!
1. Register for your preferred date.
The first step to attending orientation is to register for your preferred date. Most schools offer multiple dates throughout the summer to accommodate different schedules. Simply visit the school’s website and complete the online registration process. Keep in mind that some orientations, particularly those that include an overnight stay, may have associated costs to cover food and housing.
In preparation for your orientation program, it’s important to gather and submit any required documents. These may include your immunization records, social security card, and documentation of any transfer or dual credits you have earned. Check the school’s orientation guidelines or contact their admissions office to ensure you have all the necessary paperwork in order.
2. Pick the proper outfit.
College orientation is often held during the summer when the weather can be quite warm. Considering the amount of walking and exploring you’ll be doing on campus, it’s essential to dress comfortably and be prepared for different conditions. Here are some tips on what to wear:
Opt for a pair of walking shoes or sneakers. You’ll be on your feet for a significant part of the day, so choose footwear that provides support and won’t leave your feet feeling sore.
Given the summer heat, it’s advisable to wear light and breathable clothing. A T-shirt, tank top, or lightweight blouse paired with shorts, a skirt, or comfortable pants will keep you cool and comfortable as you navigate the campus. Consider choosing fabrics that wick away sweat and allow air circulation. While it may be hot outside, indoor spaces such as classrooms and auditoriums can often be air-conditioned and cooler. To be prepared for temperature fluctuations, bring along a cardigan or hoodie.
Consider the Student ID Picture:
Many colleges take student ID pictures during orientation. If you want to look your best in the photo, you may want to avoid wearing overly casual or wrinkled clothing. Choose an outfit that reflects your personal style while still being presentable.
Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to shield your skin and eyes from UV damage. Consider bringing a small, portable umbrella for extra shade if needed.
3. What should you bring?
When preparing for college orientation, it’s important to have a few essential items on hand to make the most of the fast-paced activities and gather important information. Here’s what you should bring:
Refillable Water Bottle:
Staying hydrated is crucial, especially when you’re moving from one activity to another. Bringing a refillable water bottle ensures you have access to water throughout the day.
Notebook and Pen/Pencil:
Orientation sessions often involve receiving important information about academics, campus resources, and student life. Having a notebook and a pen or pencil allows you to jot down key details, reminders, and any questions you may have. You could also bring a lightweight laptop or tablet.
Folder or Binder:
During orientation, you might receive handouts, schedules, campus maps, and other paperwork. Having a folder or binder will help you keep these documents organized and easily accessible.
Comfortable Bag or Backpack:
Look for one with enough space to hold your water bottle, notebook, folder, and any other personal items you may need. Consider a bag with comfortable straps to ensure ease of carrying during the day.
Any Required Paperwork:
Check if there are any specific documents or forms you need to bring with you, such as identification, medical records, or housing information. Make sure you have these items ready in advance, as they may be required during the orientation sessions.
4. Make a checklist.
To make the most of your college orientation and ensure all your needs are addressed, it’s helpful to have a checklist of questions to ask. Consider including the following:
Safety and Security:
- What security measures are in place for residence halls and other sensitive areas?
- How does the school communicate with students during emergencies?
- How does the career services office assist freshmen?
- What is the student-to-advisor ratio?
- Are there any specific first-year experiences or programs available on campus?
Health and Wellness:
- What health insurance or health discount programs does the school’s health center accept?
- What mental health services are available to students?
- Are there any specific resources for students with disabilities or classroom accommodations?
- How can I add or drop a class?
- Are there any specific registration deadlines or processes I should be aware of?
- Are there certain courses I am required to take in my first semester?
- What are the financial aid options available to me?
- How do I access information about tuition payment plans or scholarships?
- Are all dining options covered under the campus cafeteria plan, or are there additional costs?
5. Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
Getting a good night’s sleep before attending a college orientation is crucial for a multitude of reasons. A solid night’s sleep enhances memory retention, information processing, and overall mental alertness, enabling you to absorb and comprehend valuable information shared during the orientation. Good sleep contributes to emotional stability and stress management. College orientations can be overwhelming, with numerous new faces and unfamiliar surroundings. Adequate rest ensures you are equipped with the emotional resilience necessary to navigate these potentially anxiety-inducing situations with composure and confidence.
What to Expect at College Orientation: Ten Things to Prep For
While each school may have its unique approach, here are ten key things you can generally expect during your orientation.
1. Campus Tours
Orientation leaders will take you on a campus tour, which is a crucial part of orientation. Even if you’ve already visited before, this tour will help you become familiar with key locations, facilities, and academic buildings. Current students often lead these tours, sharing insider tips on where to eat, study, and socialize.
2. Information Sessions
Your orientation will likely include various information sessions for both students and parents. These sessions cover a range of topics such as financial aid and billing processes, campus safety and security, academic support services, FERPA privacy laws, and details about move-in day. Attending these sessions will provide essential information to navigate your college journey.
3. Dorms and Roommates
Orientation may give you the opportunity to explore your assigned or chosen dormitory. You’ll have the chance to check out the living arrangements and facilities. Many schools use online roommate portals or assign roommates based on questionnaires. Orientation allows you to meet your future roommate in person, fostering communication and planning for dorm life together.
Here are some great questions that can help get to know your roommate and plan for the upcoming year “57 Questions to Ask Potential College Roommates”
4. Meeting People and Making Friends
College orientation is an ideal time to meet new people and make friends. Alongside information sessions and orientation groups, you’ll encounter fellow students throughout the campus. Be open to forming connections with others, as many students are in the same boat, eager to make new friendships and build a support network.
5. Choosing Your Class Schedule
During orientation, you’ll likely meet with your academic advisor to select your class schedule. Consider your preferences, such as whether you’re a morning or afternoon person, to determine optimal class times. Take note of the locations of the classes to avoid long commutes across campus. Additionally, examine the course catalog and strive for a balanced mix of classes, avoiding an overload of difficult courses in a single semester.
6. Your College ID Photograph
During orientation, there will be a designated time for you to have your college ID made. This card will become your all-purpose ID, so keep it with you at all times. You’ll need it for tasks like registering for classes, accessing your residence hall, borrowing books from the library, paying tuition bills, and enjoying meals at the dining hall. Plus, having a student ID can sometimes score you discounts at select stores and restaurants, so it’s definitely a handy card to have!
7. Student Life
While college provides a wealth of academic and professional resources, it’s equally important to explore the opportunities available for fun, relaxation, and building new connections. During orientation, you’ll have a chance to learn about various aspects of student engagement, including:
Clubs and organizations: Your campus is likely teeming with a diverse range of clubs catering to different interests. Whether you enjoy literature, volunteering, sororities, gaming, or anything in between, there’s bound to be a club for you. Don’t hesitate to ask your orientation leaders for recommendations on the best clubs to join. And if you can’t find a club that aligns with your passion, consider starting one yourself and rally like-minded individuals!
Concerts and Events: College campuses are buzzing with exciting athletics events, concerts, and dances. The key is knowing where to find them. Connect with your orientation group and inquire about social media groups dedicated to promoting campus activities. Joining these groups will keep you in the loop about upcoming events, allowing you to immerse yourself in the vibrant social scene on campus.
8. Student Resources
During orientation, it is crucial to pay close attention to the array of resources your college provides and learn how to utilize them effectively once classes commence. These resources can significantly contribute to your success as a student. Learning assistance programs can offer academic support and tutoring, cultural centers can provide opportunities for cultural exploration and engagement, career services can assist with job search and internships, and libraries can offer vast collections of books, research materials, and study spaces. You are bound to forget a lot of what you learn in orientation, but if you know where to access the information later, you are good to go!
9. Placement Tests
During freshman orientation, some colleges take the opportunity to assess your proficiency in specific subjects through placement tests. These tests typically cover areas such as Math and various foreign languages. The results of these tests will help the school determine your course schedule. It’s important to note that not all colleges require these placement tests, and in some cases, you may have the option to complete them at home and on your own time.
10. Your New Community
When starting college, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the community you will be a part of, whether you are staying local or moving to a new location. Use this time to venture off-campus and explore what the area has to offer. Discovering new restaurants, popular coffee spots, and local attractions can help you feel more connected to the community and create a sense of belonging. By exploring early on, you can start building a network of favorite places and activities that will enhance your college experience.
Another great way to explore your new community is by utilizing a Let’s Roam city scavenger hunt in your area. Doing a scavenger hunt with your new friends exposes you to the highlights of the city on a fun-filled journey of trivia and photo/video challenges that are both exciting and help you bond!
Parents might or might not be able to attend college orientation.
Parents’ participation in college orientation has evolved over the years. While it used to be a students-only event, many colleges now welcome family members to the orientation day. If your college offers parents or family orientation, it’s highly recommended that they attend. These sessions can provide invaluable insights, especially if it’s their first experience with college. During orientation, there will be both joint sessions for parents and students, as well as separate sessions. For example, campus tours may be conducted together, allowing both parents and students to explore the campus. However, presentations and information sessions are usually held separately.
Parent presentations focus on important topics such as school policies, safety measures, and the responsibilities of various departments. They provide valuable contact numbers for parents to reach out for assistance. Additionally, these sessions typically cover the tuition payment schedule, ensuring parents are aware of where and how to pay bills. It equips them with the necessary information to support their child’s college journey and helps establish effective communication channels between parents and the institution.
You may be able to stay overnight on campus.
Experience campus life firsthand! At some colleges, there’s a fantastic opportunity for freshman students to spend a night in a dorm room on campus. This unique college experience can greatly ease your transition into the environment and prevent you from feeling completely overwhelmed on your first day.
If your college permits overnight stays during orientation, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. While checking the orientation material, keep an eye out for any information regarding overnight accommodations. However, don’t assume it’s not an option just because it’s not explicitly mentioned. Give the college a call and inquire about the possibility. It’s always better to clarify and seize the opportunity if available. If you’re given the green light, be sure to pack a few extra changes of clothes and the necessary toiletries.
College orientation can seem like a scary and overwhelming experience, but with the right preparation and understanding it can prepare you for the upcoming semester and set the stage for the next four or five years of your college journey. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge and information, but you may also forge lifelong friendships during this event. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you know everything you need to, or that you’ll figure it out on the fly. The truth is that many students go all the way through their college career, never utilizing the amazing amenities that are on offer, simply because they don’t know they exist. Taking one day out of your schedule to do some thorough investigating can save you years of heartache and hardship. It’s worth the few hours!
The summer before college can be busy so check out our “How to Make the Most of the Last Summer Before College” to help you keep from being overwhelmed.