UPDATE: As helpful as this post is, I have written an EVEN MORE HELPFUL post about college orientation! You can check it out here.
I remember the summer before my freshman year of college, and how absolutely scared I was of orientation. I had decided to go to an out of state university that no one in my home town had ever heard of. I didn’t know anyone that went to my university – I was completely alone. And I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect at orientation, and I had no idea how to prepare. That’s why I’m writing this post! So you guys will know exactly what to do!
First thing to expect at orientation – a LOT of people. You’re going to walk into a building packed with students and parents (who are probably crying) and stand in line to get your orientation packet. They’re going to split you up into groups, so even if you go to orientation with someone you know, you will probably be in different groups. For the next two days, expect to walk all over campus with your new group (so wear comfortable shoes).
Expect a lot of ice-breaker games. Be ready to talk about yourself and learn a lot about a group of random people you’ll probably never see again on campus. There will be games upon games, trying to break the tension and make you a cohesive group. It’s weird, it’s awkward, but everyone else feels weird and awkward too, so it is kind of a bonding experience.
You’re probably going to feel lost on campus. Unless you grew up where your college is or you have spent a lot of time there, it is unlikely that you will know where everything is. You’ll feel okay when you’re in a group, but you’re just praying that you won’t get separated and have to find something on your own. My second day of orientation, I woke up early and wandered around campus to get a feel for it – I got somewhat lost, but it really helped me get my bearings and understand where everything was.
If you bring parents with you, they will probably cry. Mine didn’t (I’m the fourth and last daughter to leave home – they were probably jumping for joy), but a lot of parents did. Especially if you are the first child, or an only child. Let them cry, don’t get mad at them. You’re going to miss them when you’re in a dorm room sick as can be and your mom isn’t there to take care of you. Most orientation split up students and parents, so you won’t be with them for the majority of orientation anyway.
Take a small notepad and pencil with you. They are telling you really important stuff at orientation (that’s why it’s mandatory)! You don’t want to forget it in the next 1-2 months before you get on campus. Other than that, I wouldn’t recommend carrying a lot of stuff around with you. Maybe a small bag to carry papers that they give you, but you don’t need much stuff – it will only get in the way.
You’re going to make friends in your orientation group. They stick 10-20 nervous pre-freshmen together, and you’re guaranteed to become friends with at least one. Enjoy them, become friends on facebook, but be prepared to never see each other once school starts. I met up one time with my orientation friends, and then we realized we didn’t have that much in common – we were friends born of necessity, and the need was no longer there. Now – I’m not saying this will happen to you. I have also met a lot of people who met their best friend in orientation – be open and willing to make friends. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t stay friends once classes start.
The most important rule of orientation is to be open and accepting. If you’re closed off to everything that is happening, you won’t have fun, and you probably won’t fall in love with your school. Orientation leaders work really hard to make sure you have a memorable experience, so don’t waste it. Use the opportunity to ask all of your dumb questions, because everyone else will be, and if you wait until classes start, it will be a lot harder to ask those questions. Most of all, have fun, and enjoy your first few days at your new home for the next four years!