By Megan McCluskey
High school graduation day has come and gone and it’s finally summer. But, this isn’t just any summer; it’s the one before college, a season filled with endless possibilities. One of its most exciting events will be your first real college experience: orientation. Sure, you may have visited your university for tours with your parents, but orientation is the first time that you’ll get to experience college as an official student. For many schools, orientation is mandatory, but even if it’s not, you should definitely go. If nothing else, you’ll get to interact with a bunch of your fellow classmates and spend some time on campus. In order to make sure that you get the most out of your school’s orientation, follow these tips!
Do some research
It’s easier and much less stressful to attend orientation if you have some idea of what you’re going to be doing there. Make sure you check out all the information that your school sends you and publishes online about the orientation process so you know what is expected of you. That way, you’re prepared if your program involves discussion sessions based on readings you were supposed to do, different choices of activities you have to decide between or bringing paperwork (like vaccination records) with you.
Also, many colleges have you register for classes while at orientation. If you already know what you’re majoring in, check out which ones you need to take early on to get a head start. If you’re not sure about your major yet, figure out which general education classes you’re interested in so you don’t go into the registration process blindly. “Have some idea of what classes you want to sign up for,” says Laura Baugh, a senior at Virginia Tech. “Do your research and figure out what core classes you need to take.”
A good way to prepare for registration is by checking your school’s online course catalog to get more specifics about classes and then making a list of the ones that interest you.
Hence the name, orientation is the time to get acquainted to your university and to what college life is going to be like. While there, most schools have you do things like pick classes for the fall, meet your academic counselors and advisors, and plan out your major. You’ll also probably attend sessions to learn about things like your school’s general rules and policies, honor code, and more.
You’re going to be given a lot of information in a short period of time, so you want to make sure that you wear comfortable clothing, have a water bottle and bring a pen and notebook. Consider turning your phone on silent during the most important information sessions; that way, there won’t be anything distracting you from learning the essentials.
During the evening, most schools hold more fun sessions that consist of activities like dances, parties or opportunities to play sports and games. If you’re not sure what you’re in for, make sure to pack both a sporty/casual outfit and a nicer going-out outfit so you’ll be prepared for every event that comes your way.