The University Network

A Student’s Guide to Freshman Orientation

Throughout college there will undoubtedly be stresses, but there is no need to clench your jaw before classes even start. Orientation is meant to excite incoming freshmen. It gives young students an opportunity to explore their campus, get a taste for the culture, set their class schedules, and possibly even spend a night in the dorms. Having a chance to explore and get a feel for your future home can simplify the stresses of moving away to college. This way you won’t move into your dorm on the Saturday of opening weekend and be forced to plunge into a rigorous class schedule two days later.

Here are four tips to lighten your orientation stress load.

1. Pack Sufficiently

Your college should send a packet of information, including a list of everything you could ever need for orientation, so make sure you peruse that list. If you don’t receive a packet in the mail, it never hurts to give the registrar’s office a call. They will advise you or send you to someone who can help. This will not be an exhaustive list, but forgetting a crucial item on your dining room table, four hours away, will result in inevitable stress.

Most colleges will ask you to bring important items, such as immunization records and a form of state identification, and some colleges may want you to bring a pillow, bedding, and a fan for overnight stay. But mostly, the orientation list will remind you to bring easily obtainable items such as pencils, paper, and a snack or beverage.

Pro tip: Dress for comfort, not for the red carpet. College orientations can be long and exhausting, and include a lot of walking and standing time. Bring nicer clothes if you plan on exploring the campus or city with newfound friends after, but a t-shirt will suffice for orientation.

2. Schedule to your Advantage

Overall, orientation is straightforward. Most of your time will be spent following your student leader or sitting in large auditoriums with hundreds of your future peers. But class scheduling can be tricky. Don’t worry; you won’t have to enroll for a fifth year if you accidently take a class that doesn’t directly apply to the curriculum of your major, but you want to get on track as soon as possible. There will often be current students and professors to help guide you along the enrollment process.

At this point you will meet your college advisor. Your advisor is there with you, helping you stay on track to graduate, through the entirety of your college career. Conversations with your advisor are imperative. Also, in most cases, you aren’t your advisor’s first student. Advisors often know tricks in the system, such as an ultimate frisbee or history of rock music class that counts for credit.

College orientation is exciting. The class registration process should be too. Freshman year marks the first time students can choose classes that truly interest them. A major should be rooted in passion. Yes, at first there are core requirements, but those can be spread out. If you don’t want to take calculus until your junior year, you most likely won’t have to! If you want to stay up late to play guitar at open mic shows on Wednesday nights, you don’t have to schedule morning classes on Thursday.

3. Explore your Future

Throughout orientation there will be many opportunities to explore your future home. Go on the campus tours with your advisory group, but most importantly, make sure you explore on your own. Tours will introduce incoming students to academic buildings, the library, and the cafeterias. Exploring on your own will help you grasp the culture of your new city or town. If there is a restaurant, farmer’s market, or other cultural hub that sparks your interest, go check it out and ask questions. College is all about independence.

4. Meet Friends and Roommates

If you know who your roommate is before orientation, try to coordinate and schedule the same orientation date as him/her. If you knew your roommate before college, having an old friend by your side can make you feel at home in a new place. If your roommate is a complete stranger, meeting at orientation is a great way to get to know each other before committing to an entire year of bunking up in a 100-square-foot dorm room. This can excite you both and help ease yet another common worry of moving away to college. If you don’t get along, there is still time to switch!

Your orientation groups are decided by your listed major. Get up and converse with those around you. You will be in many classes together and most likely will face a similar course load. This can also give you a taste of the personalities of people that are attracted by your presumed field of study.

What to Keep in Mind

Worrying is exhausting. Save your energy for when and where it is deserved. Orientation is made to be informative, but its primary purpose is to give incoming students a taste of their next four years. Most of the meetings are meant to introduce you to your future professors, peers and campus, not to confuse you or set you behind. Remember, you are not alone. There are thousands of students who are going through this with you, and millions who have done it before. Know that college is an exciting and pivotal time in becoming an adult. This orientation is just your first breath of freedom.