New student orientation is your first opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of resources available on campus. Most colleges hold orientation during the week, prior to the first day of classes. Some colleges will hold a short orientation, during the summer. The main focus of new student orientation is to make new friends and become acclimated to the campus environment. You may be wondering, do you bring your parents to college orientation? Most campuses provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions and interact with campus administrators, during the first day. You may have the opportunity to dine together before they leave, but the bulk of the orientation program is geared toward helping students find their way around campus.
Take Advantage of Orientation Activities
One of the most important college orientation tips is to go to everything that is offered for new students. You’ll receive a schedule of events that includes everything from sessions about time management to an outdoor movie. Each activity is organized to help you feel more comfortable on campus. It may seem daunting to attend orientation events alone, but rest assured, everyone else is feeling the same way. Use orientation activities to meet new friends and gain a better understanding of your new home away from home.
Learn About Campus Resources
One of the most important things that you can do during new student orientation is to learn about campus resources. A college campus is like a small city. Each campus department is designed to provide specific help to college students. Most college campuses have a counseling center, health services, student activities office, career center and campus recreation facilities. New student orientation will introduce you to these services and remind you of important tasks that you’ll need to accomplish. During orientation, you’ll be assigned to a small group with an orientation leader. This student leader will help you navigate through the orientation process and serve as a mentor, throughout the year.
Find a Way to Get Involved
It’s important to get involved in a campus organization, as soon as possible. Attending a student organization fair is one of the most helpful college orientation tips to ease your transition. Most student organizations provide welcome events to entice new students into becoming a member. Choose one or two organizations to explore while at new student orientation. Getting involved is one of the best ways to become connected to a new friend group.
Get to Know the Campus
Use your time at new student orientation to get the lay of the land. Some orientation programs include an opportunity to find your classes, with the help of a current student. You’ll ease your anxiety on the first day of classes if you become familiar with the campus. Meal times may be slightly different during orientation, so be sure to check into the cafeteria hours.
Seek Academic Resources
Even if you’re already registered for classes, try to meet with your academic advisor during new student orientation. It’s important to develop a strong relationship with your advisor because they'll help you register for classes, choose a minor or even change your major, if need be. Most new student orientation programs offer academic resource sessions. Take advantage of workshops about study skills, library resources or text anxiety, so that you’ll be ahead of the game. Finally, buy or borrow any textbook prior to the first day of class so you'll be prepared to learn.
Immerse Yourself in the Campus Experience
New student orientation may seem overwhelming, but it’s an ideal time to immerse yourself in the campus experience. Leave your dorm room door open, hang out in the floor lounge or ask your roommate to go to a campus event. This is your time to enjoy campus, without the stress of homework or studying for an exam. You can ease homesickness, if you make the most out of your college orientation experience and build new relationships.
What Happens if I Miss College Orientation
If something prevents you from attending college orientation, be sure to ask what you may have missed. Your first priority is to ensure that you're prepared for classes. Next, make connections with other students, so that you can make new friends. It’s never too late to get involved, so visit the student activities office and look for a meeting schedule of student organizations. It may be intimidating at first, but you can learn quickly by asking questions.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.