Many colleges conduct an orientation event – usually a day – over the summer to help incoming students transition to life on campus. Should you plan to attend orientation? Is it worth it?
Yes, and YES! Here is why…
Get to know your surroundings
Orientation usually includes a tour of the campus. This is a great way to get comfortable with all the different buildings and departments at your school. Also, you will get to see many non-classroom locations, such as residence halls, workout facilities, and student unions.
Smile…for your student ID!
You will receive your student ID card, so smile when they take your picture! The student ID becomes your ticket to many locations and events on campus (and often provides discounts at local businesses, too!). Keep it somewhere safe.
I advise you…to sign up for classes!
There will be an opportunity to meet with an Academic Advisor who will help guide you as to what classes you should be taking to be on track for graduation. You can sit down with them, ask questions, and get a clear idea as to what classes you will need to take and what electives will be available to you. You will likely walk out of that session with your semester schedule in hand.
Sometimes a student may want to test into a higher level of a particular subject to avoid taking an entry-level class in a subject they already feel proficient in; examples include math or modern languages (such as Spanish or French). Other programs of study, such as certain engineering programs, might require incoming students to take a special placement exam. During your orientation, your college’s admissions staff can help you identify whether or not you might need to take a placement exam.
Turn in any missing paperwork!
If you need to turn in any paperwork to your college – such as a Verification Worksheet to the financial aid office or a Vaccination Record to the health center – then orientation day is a great opportunity to do so. Be sure to communicate your intentions with the orientation staff so they can help you make that happen.
Learn about college life
Many colleges offer sessions that inform you about campus resources and tips for adjusting to campus. Topics may include study habits, time management, and roommate conflict resolution. Some colleges conduct skits or include student panels to help answer a variety of questions you might have — while also adding a few chuckles along the way.
Organizations, clubs, and fraternities/sororities
You will also have a chance to meet with and learn more about many of the student groups on campus. Whether you are interested in an intramural sports club, a shared interest club (such as Astronomy Club), or a Greek fraternity/sorority, this is a great way to get to learn more about the many opportunities to connect on campus.
Meet new people just like you: freshmen!
Remember, everyone in your group is starting brand new at a new school. Get to know the others in your orientation group. College is like a fresh start, so make the best of it. Do not forget the power of a friendly smile and a handshake.
Something for parents, too!
Yes, parents can also get a ton of answers when they accompany their children to orientation days. Parents, you might even be separated from your student so that you can receive more specific information. This is a great way for you to exchange best practices with other parents in addition to finding support, since those other parents are also about to send their “baby” off to college (crying is perfectly ok!).
There you have it: This is your chance. Attend your orientation day, ask a bunch of questions, meet some cool people, and above all, enjoy yourself. Time to start the next adventure! Good luck!