Over the next few weeks, students across the country will be making the trek to their chosen colleges and participating in new student orientation activities. Several colleges now mandate that freshmen attend orientation before they are allowed to register for fall classes, but some schools, especially those that hold events earlier in the summer, still leave the decision to participate up to the students. Even if attendance is not required, all students should seriously consider participating in these planned activities, as they provide a plethora of information for both incoming students and their families. Orientation can help relieve many of the common anxieties students feel about leaving home and starting life at college, as well as calm many parents who are having difficulty letting go. The valuable connections students make during orientation can also help provide a solid foundation and ease their transition, making it more likely that they will succeed in college. Here are a few things students can expect to experience during their new student orientation.
WHAT TO EXPECT
1. Campus Tours
Although students may have already taken a campus tour before making their decision, many colleges provide a more in-depth tour of the campus during orientation. Students can expect to visit the financial aid office, student union, administration buildings, and the dormitories. Students should pay close attention to the layout of their rooms, taking photos and measurements to ensure they don’t pack too much when they return later in the summer. It’s also a good time to ask any questions that may not be answered on the school’s website or housing contract.
2. Student Life Discussions
Several people from various departments will meet with students to give them an overview about life on campus. This may include athletic directors, Greek organization leaders, student government officers, and others that organize student activities on and off campus.
3. Breakout Sessions
During orientation, students will more than likely have the chance to meet with their academic advisers, talk with financial aid officials, and even learn more about study abroad opportunities. Students should expect to spend much of their time at orientation digesting a lot of information and asking many questions.
4. Campus Organization Fair
Most colleges host an informational fair for incoming students. This is where the campus clubs, academic societies, and Greek organizations all host tables and provide information about their roles on campus. It’s a great place for students to meet others with similar interests and take a break from the long lectures about campus rules and regulations.
5. Meet & Greet Events
During orientation, most colleges arrange several opportunities for students to mingle with administrators, faculty, alumni, and current students. These meet and greets are typically informal, but some schools host dances and mixers in the evenings, as well. For those that are shy, this is a wonderful time to make some new friends before move-in day arrives.
6. Housekeeping Tasks
Although much of the time at orientation will be filled with lectures and breakout sessions to educate students on the available campus resources, students will also use this time to take care of some housekeeping items. Students should expect to bring their vaccination records to submit to the medical unit, purchase their parking passes (if applicable), and secure their student identification cards while they are on campus. Most will also use this time to take placement tests for math, English, and foreign language classes.
Before the orientation concludes, students will most likely register for their fall classes, as well. To ensure they get the classes they need or desire, students should review the course catalog and college website prior to arriving for orientation and have a list of classes they prefer. It’s a good idea for students to have a second and third choice, just in case the classes are no longer available when they register. Here are a few other things students should expect to bring with them during orientation.
WHAT TO BRING
1. Comfortable Clothing
Students should expect to do quite a bit of walking during orientation. Comfortable shoes and light clothing are highly suggested. Students should also dress in layers, as they may find lecture halls to be a bit chilly in comparison to the warm summer weather outside.
Although many schools provide free breakfast, lunch, and dinner for students during orientation, students may get hungry during sessions. Bringing a backpack filled with granola bars, nuts and water can help keep students satisfied during long lectures, but they should refrain from bringing chips and other ‘noisy’ foods, as these can be disruptive when consumed.
3. Protective Items
Depending on where students are headed for college, they may find that they need sunscreen, lip balm and even bug spray while taking tours. Southern colleges will be quite warm during the summer and students can burn in a matter of minutes, as well as dehydrate. For those who are unaccustomed to high humidity, these conditions can be dangerous if they venture out unprepared. A hat and a pair of sunglasses should also be on the list of items to bring to orientation, especially for those in sunny states.
Students should have adequate cash on hand, as they will need it to pay for their student cards, parking passes and other items. Although many schools cover meals, some may not cover all of them. Students may be expected to find dinner on their own or wish to venture off campus after hours to explore what their new town has to offer. Of course, many students will also wish to pay a visit to the campus bookstore to pick up some collegiate apparel to bring back home for friends and family.
5. Linens & Things
Students should check with their colleges to confirm whether bed linens and towels will be provided during their stay. Many colleges expect students to bring their own set of sheets, pillowcases and towels with them, since they will be staying in vacant dorm rooms. Students should expect to bring toiletries and a pair of flip flops (or shower shoes), as well.
6. Other Items
Since much of the time during orientation will be spent digesting copious amounts of information, all students should carry a pen and a notebook to jot down important dates, requirements, and questions that may come up during lectures and breakout sessions. Students should also consider bringing a tape measure (for the dorm room) and a camera. Those who bring cell phones should also bring a charger and remember to keep their phones on silent during lectures and other important discussions.
Although many parents accompany their students to orientation, it’s important that they understand this is their child’s time to discover more about their new home and let them take the lead during tours and sessions. Parents should keep to the background and observe from a distance, or better yet, let their students enjoy this time alone. It can be hard letting go, but parents need to give their children space, if they want to see them soar.
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