how to have a successful college orientation experience

Posted : April 22, 2014
Last Updated : May 21, 2018

how to have a successful college orientation experience

As an entering college freshman, one of the best steps you can take to prepare for your college journey is to attend your school's new student orientation. College orientation usually lasts two to five days over the summer and allows you to meet other classmates, learn about campus life, ask questions, and take care of any unfinished business before the semester starts. Follow these tips to make sure you have a successful college orientation experience.

Sign up early to reserve your choice of session.

Most orientations take place during the months of June and July. Because sessions fill up quickly, you should sign up early so you can schedule your orientation around your summer plans. Keep in mind that at many college orientations, students will be registering for courses so you may want to schedule an early session in order to have a better selection of courses from which to choose. Check with your college for instructions on how to reserve a session.

Complete pre-orientation tasks.

If you receive information from your college regarding steps to complete before you attend orientation, make sure you fulfill them. Common pre-orientation tasks include:

  • Reviewing freshman orientation informational packet
  • Activating your college email account
  • Submitting immunization forms
  • Completing course placement tests
  • Reviewing the undergraduate course catalog

Make a list of courses you would like to take your first semester.

At many college orientations, one of the tasks you will complete is scheduling your first-term courses. To be prepared for this, you should review your college's course catalog and website in order to find out which courses are needed for general education requirements and to research electives that sound appealing to you. Make a list of the courses you would like to take your first semester and bring it with you to orientation. Advisors will be available to help you narrow down your list and make sure you are meeting requirements.

Pack the essentials.

Don't go overboard on packing for your orientation, but be sure to bring the essentials. Check with your school to see if they have a specific list of items to bring. For most orientations, you will need to bring the following:

  • Valid driver's license or some other form of government issued picture ID
  • Light jacket
  • Casual clothing
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Umbrella
  • Pen/notebook or tablet for note taking
  • Backpack and folders to store handouts and giveaways
  • Items necessary for an overnight stay in a campus residence hall such as sleeping bag, bed linens, pillow, towels, toiletry items, alarm clock, etc.

Prepare a list of questions.

Most orientations will have a question and answer session usually at the end of the event. Before attending orientation, you should prepare a list of questions so you don't forget what you want to ask. Feel free to ask questions to current students, mentors, advisors, etc. throughout your orientation experience.

Take notes.

You will be bombarded with new information at your college orientation. Most of this info should be included in handouts that will be given to you during presentations and workshops. However, you should take notes about pertinent information that may not be included in the handouts, such as first-hand or personal knowledge that your orientation leader may give you on a campus tour.

Attend optional meetings about campus clubs.

As an entering college freshman, it's crucial that you become involved in the campus community early in order to feel a sense of connection. Get a jump start on campus clubs by attending their orientation meetings. Gather information and ask questions so you will know which clubs you would like to join by the time fall semester rolls around.

Join in on social events.

Festivities, such as dances and ice cream socials, are common at college orientations. After a day filled with presentations, workshops, tours, etc., you will certainly be exhausted. However, don't let that exhaustion stop you from joining in on evening social activities. These social events will allow you to meet and get to know your fellow classmates. Try to stay upbeat and energetic so you can make new college friends.

Get excited!

You are about to embark on one of the most exciting times of your life. Start thinking about all of the amazing opportunities you are going to experience while in college. Freshman orientation is just the beginning!

For more information about college orientation, read Benefits of Attending Freshman Orientation.

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