I'm back another post in The Ultimate Guide to Freshman Year! This series is for incoming and current college freshman. If you haven't read the other parts of the series, see the bottom of this post. :)
Today I'm going to talk all about college orientation: in particular, what to expect and how to prepare.
What to Expect
College orientation is both scary and exciting for almost every student. It's the first time you will feel like a real college student. My orientation was two days and one night. I spent the night in a dorm with a randomly assigned roommate. Now if you are also being assigned a random roommate, do not freak out. They are probably experiencing the same emotions you are. Having a random roommate for the night is actually a great way to make a new friend! That being said, don't force a friendship. My roommate barely spoke to me, and that was fine because I made tons of other friends during the two days I was there. There are so many opportunities to socialize.
Usually orientation is full of meetings and presentations, so make sure both you and your parents bring a notebook and pen or pencil. You'll want to write things down: trust me. You'll also be getting a lot of paperwork, booklets and fliers. My orientation leader gave me a bag, but just in case yours doesn't, make sure you have a bag with you.
When given the chance to explore the different departments, resources and organizations, actually explore. Ask questions. Take advantage of the free stuff! They're very helpful in answering any possible question you may have. Worried about getting home if you live far from campus? Talk to the transportation department. Worried about transferring a prescription from home to school? Talk to the health center. You get the idea. Orientation is your chance to work out all the details before you move in.
Most likely, the students will be split into orientation groups soon after arrival. This part can be intimidating because you're sort of torn from your parents. When looking back, though, it was the best part of orientation! You'll probably play a lot of funny games. My advice is to participate. Really! Play those awkward ice breakers like you've never played before! It will help you relax, and that's super important.
In my orientation group is also where I made friends. I know orientation is notorious for being a good way to make friends, and don't get me wrong, it is; however, don't feel like these people need to be your best friends for all of college. The girls I met were incredible, but we actually didn't stay friends upon move-in. And that's fine! Get their numbers and keep in touch if you want, but don't feel like it's absolutely necessary.
Orientation is also the time when most schools require you to sign up for classes. I suggest you get a rough feel for what you want to take before you get there. Of course they will help you with it, but it's nice to have an idea of what you're getting yourself into. You can also use this time to ask about changing your major if you want to do that.
How to Prepare
1. Prepare Questions
Don't go in empty-handed! Write down everything you've been contemplating but couldn't find online. Grab a map of campus, club and organization information, intramural sports schedules, transportation availability, a list of health centers, tuition payment plans, insurance information, etc.
2. Attain Contact Information
I wrote down all of the phone numbers, emails and addresses I wanted to attain before I got there. For example, I wanted contact information for my advisor, the registrar's office, the student affairs office, the center for student activities and my university in general.
3. Coordinate with Your Roommate
If at all possible, you could use this opportunity to meet up with your roommate. If you all choose the same orientation, you might be able to experience orientation together! If you've chosen a random roommate, ignore this one.
4. Look at the Orientation Schedule
Usually you'll be able to find an orientation schedule online before you arrive. Go over that with your parents or guardians! Also, make sure you have a plan. Often times, the school will require you to get certain things done (schedule classes, register your computer, etc.). You want to be sure that you're getting everything done.
5. Send in Your Transcripts and Credits
This is an important one! If your transcripts aren't submitted, it's hard for you to be able to schedule classes. If you took any classes at/through a community college in high school, be sure to submit those to your university. If you have an AP, IB or DE class, it could count toward your degree. For example, if you have 6 math credits coming in and your major only requires 6 math credits, you might be done with math! It's an important thing to remember.
6. Plan Out Your Classes
Like I said earlier, your advisor will definitely help you with this one; however, I found it helpful to know exactly what my major required before I went to orientation.
7. Dress Comfortably
A lot of us girls want to look cute when we meet new people. You can look cute at orientation; just be realistic. Usually orientations are during the summer. It was extremely hot during mine, and I'm really glad I took that into consideration when planning outfits. Also, for all those cheesy games you'll play, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
8. Plan to Tour
If you're already in town for orientation, why not explore? This is an awesome opportunity to check out the local hot spots and get oriented with the city. It's nice to know where grocery stores, pharmacies and bookstores are beforehand.
I hope you all enjoyed this post about college orientation! Stay tuned for more posts in this series, and comment below with any questions. :)
Thanks for reading!