For many incoming first-year students, the excitement of beginning college is so overwhelming it’s easy to blow off routine tasks like orientation. After all, you’ve already done so much research; you might think you already know what to expect. How will a few extra days of paperwork and boredom help?

We say plenty! One of the best things you can do to ready yourself for your college experience is to show up at orientation. While it may seem more of a formality than anything else, this important event can help you prepare and give you an advantage over other students who choose not to attend.

Orientation typically takes place the summer before school starts and will last between two to five days. It offers you the ideal chance to meet some of your new classmates, ask questions, and tie up any loose ends you have. Far from mundane, college orientation can help you learn more about life on campus and what to expect. If you want to make the most of your orientation experience, follow these tips to set you up for success.

Reserve Your Session Early

Orientation tends to fill up quickly, so you should make sure you sign up for a session as early as you can. Making this event a priority in your summer planning will go a long way toward helping you be prepared when school starts.

Attending can also help you get the best selection when it comes to the courses you are interested in. At many orientations, you will be registering for classes in advance, so keep this in mind.

Be Sure to Take Care of All Required Tasks Before Orientation

You will likely receive an orientation packet outlining some of the tasks you should complete before the session. This is important, so make sure you do them well ahead of time. Some of these may include:

•Activation your new email account for your school

•Reviewing the literature

•Providing immunization records

•Completing any necessary placement tests

Make a List of Your Preferred Courses Before You Arrive

One of the essential tasks at orientation will be to choose the courses you want to attend during your first term. You will want to carefully go over the catalog to prepare for this, making a note of any classes that are of particular interest to you. Advisors will be present to help you make the best choices and ensure you have the necessary requirements to enroll.

Prepare for Your Overnight Trip

You won’t need a lot, so don’t overpack. Just make sure you bring your essentials. The school will probably provide you with a list of things to bring, but in most cases, you will need the following items:

•Casual clothes

•Walking shoes

•A Jacket

•A notebook and pen

•A backpack to hold all the handouts

•Your driver’s license or ID and your social security card


•Cell phone and charger

•Sleeping bag and pillow

Come With Your List of Questions

You will have plenty of opportunities to get your questions answered, so if you have any pertinent ones, make sure you come with a prepared list, so you don’t forget. You may want to know more about any aspect of life on campus, and the more you can learn, the more comfortable you will be when the big day arrives.

Take Lots of Notes

You will be faced with information overload during orientation, and you are likely to get multiple handouts, materials, and other items during each presentation. Bring some empty file folders in your backpack so you can organize each of the materials to be able to refer back to them later on.

Additionally, take notes about anything and everything, and file them in the appropriate sections, so you don’t forget. Keep the contact information of your orientation leader so you can call them later if you have new questions that arise.

Attend Any Optional Meetings About Clubs and Campus Life

Getting involved right away will help give you a sense of belonging and school spirit. If there are optional orientation meetings during the session for clubs or groups, try to attend as many as you can. It’s a great way to meet some new friends and get information on extracurriculars you may want to try out. 

Take Part in the Scheduled Social Events

There will likely be several social events scheduled during the orientation to help students have a little fun and relaxation. Dances, ice cream socials, and workshops are typical. These cool events are a great way to meet some of your new classmates and make some lasting connections. 

Stay Flexible

Things may not be exactly as you expected, and you may even find yourself a bit homesick right from the start. If you don’t get into the classes you want or you feel disappointed about orientation, no worries. There will be plenty of time to make changes and adjust over the next few years.

You may find yourself choosing to change your major or your goals after attending orientation. Know that this is completely normal. Keep an open mind and stay flexible. Change is what helps you grow as a person.

Keep Your Sense of Humor Intact

There may be some hokey moments to endure during orientation that might seem somewhat off putting and silly. School songs, weak speakers, and team-building activities can be a little corny. However, please make the most of it and have a good time. Try to build some friendships and enjoy every moment. When you look back on your experience, you will find it is filled with some terrific memories you will keep with you over the years.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem an inconvenience, your college orientation is a worthwhile endeavor designed to help you understand the lay of the land better. Attending can be a valuable experience that will help you transition safely and happily into your new life as a student of higher education.


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