Get Ready for College Orientation!
Over the next few weeks, students across the country will be making the trek to their chosen colleges and participating in new student orientation activities. Several colleges now mandate that freshmen attend orientation before they are allowed to register for fall classes, but some schools, especially those that hold events earlier in the summer, still leave the decision to participate up to the students. Even if attendance is not required, you should seriously consider participating in these planned activities, as they provide a plethora of information for both incoming students and their families. Orientation can help relieve many of the common anxieties you may feel about leaving home and starting life at college, as well as calm your parents who might have difficulty letting go. The valuable connections you make during orientation can also help provide a solid foundation and ease your transition, making it more likely to succeed in college. Here are a few things you can expect to experience during the new student orientation.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- Campus Tours
Although you may have already taken a campus tour before making your decision, many colleges provide a more in-depth tour of the campus during orientation. You can expect to visit the financial aid office, student union, administration buildings, and the dormitories. Pay close attention to the layout of your room, and take photos and measurements to ensure you don’t pack too much when you return later in the summer. It’s also a good time to ask any questions that may not be answered on the school’s website or housing contract.
- Student Life Discussions
Several people from various departments will meet with you to give an overview about life on campus. This may include athletic directors, Greek organization leaders, student government officers, and others that organize student activities on and off campus.
- Breakout Sessions
During orientation, you will more than likely have the chance to meet with your academic advisers, talk with financial aid officials, and even learn more about study abroad opportunities. You should expect to spend much of your time at orientation digesting a lot of information and asking many questions.
- Campus Organization Fair
Most colleges host an informational fair for incoming students. This is where the campus clubs, academic societies, and Greek organizations all host tables and provide information about their roles on campus. It’s a great place to meet others with similar interests and take a break from the lectures about campus rules and regulations.
- Meet & Greet Events
During orientation, most colleges arrange several opportunities for students to mingle with administrators, faculty, alumni, and current students. These meet and greets are typically informal, but some schools host dances and mixers in the evenings, as well. For those that are shy, this is a wonderful time to make some new friends before move-in day arrives.
- Housekeeping Tasks
Although much of the time at orientation will be filled with discussions and breakout sessions to educate you on the available campus resources, you can also use this time to take care of some housekeeping items. You should bring your vaccination records to submit to the medical unit, purchase your parking pass (if applicable), and secure your student identification card while on campus. You may also be able to use this time to take placement tests for math, English, and foreign language classes.
Before the orientation concludes, you will most likely register for your fall classes, as well. To ensure you get the classes you need or desire, review the course catalog and college website prior to arriving for orientation and have a list of classes you prefer. It’s a good idea to have a second and third choice, just in case the classes are no longer available when you register. Here are a few other things you may want to bring with you during orientation.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Clothing
You will probably do quite a bit of walking during orientation. Comfortable shoes and light clothing are highly suggested. You might want to dress in layers, as the lecture halls may be a bit chilly in comparison to the warm summer weather outside.
Although many schools provide free breakfast, lunch, and dinner for students during orientation, you may get hungry during sessions. Bringing a backpack filled with granola bars, nuts and water can help keep you satisfied during long lectures, but refrain from bringing chips and other ‘noisy’ foods, as these can be disruptive when consumed.
- Protective Items
Depending on where you are headed for college, you may find that you need sunscreen, lip balm, and even bug spray while taking tours. Southern colleges will be quite warm during the summer, and you can burn in a matter of minutes — as well as dehydrate. For those who are unaccustomed to high humidity, these conditions can be dangerous if you venture out unprepared. A hat and a pair of sunglasses should also be on the list of items to bring to orientation, especially in those sunny states.
Be sure to have adequate cash on hand, as you may need it to pay for your student ID card, parking pass, and other items. Although many schools cover meals, some may not cover all of them. You may be expected to find dinner on your own or wish to venture off campus after hours to explore what your new town has to offer. Of course, you may also wish to pay a visit to the campus bookstore to pick up some collegiate apparel to bring back home for friends and family.
- Linens & Things
Check with your college to confirm whether bed linens and towels will be provided during your stay. Many colleges expect students to bring their own set of sheets, pillowcases and towels with them, since they will be staying in vacant dorm rooms. Be sure to bring toiletries and a pair of flip flops (or shower shoes), as well.
- Other Items
Since much of the time during orientation will be spent digesting copious amounts of information, carry a pen and a notebook to jot down important dates, requirements, and questions that may come up during lectures and breakout sessions. You should also consider bringing a tape measure (for the dorm room) and a camera. Don’t forget to bring a phone charger, and remember to keep your phone on silent during lectures and other important discussions.
While many parents accompany their children to orientation, it’s important to keep in mind that this is the students’ time to discover more about their new home and let them take the lead during tours and sessions. Parents should keep to the background and observe from a distance, or better yet, let their children enjoy this time alone. It can be hard letting go, but parents need to give their students space, if they want to see them soar.