College orientation is essentially your introduction to college life. At your college orientation you will get to meet other students, familiarize yourself with the campus, and ease the transition from the high school to college.
What happens at college orientation?
Every college may structure orientation differently but essentially the day is organized in a way that allows you to get a sneak peek into college life. You can expect to attend multiple informational sessions where you will learn about the school’s rules and policies, get information about the different clubs and organizations on campus, get acquainted with classmates and roommates, and get answers to all your questions firsthand from faculty members.
How long is orientation day?
The structure as well as the duration of orientation day varies from one institution to another. Some colleges may organize a short afternoon session while others may plan an overnight visit. Prior to the event, the college will send you all the information you need regarding the duration, schedule and sessions that are planned for orientation.
What do I need to take with me to orientation day?
The most important thing you will need on orientation day is something to take notes with. On orientation day, you will be bombarded with lots of information, advice, and guidelines. It’s impossible to remember all of this without taking notes. A small notebook and pen will be handy to carry around with you everywhere and make notes of what you see and hear and also to make notes of what questions you need to ask. If you are not the pen and paper kind of person, your iPad will work just fine.
Before leaving for your college orientation, make it a point to go through the material your college sent you and see if they have asked students to carry along any specific documents. Some colleges may ask you to carry certain health or other documents to orientation day.
How should I prepare for orientation day?
While you can expect to get all the information you need on orientation day itself, prepare by doing your homework beforehand will help you make the most of the day. Start by going through the college website in details and also reading all of the material that the college sent you. As you go through all of the information make notes about points you need clarified or questions you want answered. Make your notes in the notepad you will be carrying along so you have them handy when the time comes.
Some schools have students make their schedule and register for their classes on orientation day. If your college has this on their schedule for the day, you will want to spend some times checking the course catalog in detail to get a better ideas of which classes are compulsory for your intended major and which you can take as electives. There are sure to be advisors on site to help you with your choices, but doing your homework in advance will help you make more informed decisions.
Will I get a chance to discuss financial aid at orientation day?
Yes, in fact that is likely to be one of the biggest topics covered on that day. You will also get the opportunity to meet the staff associated with the financial aid office. You can schedule a chat with them and get whatever clarifications you need regarding your financial aid package. To do this, you must make sure you go over your financial aid package before you leave for orientation day and make a list of questions that you want to ask.
Do I have to dress formally for orientation day?
Some colleges have a dress code for the day. If the orientation material your college sent you mentions a dress code, then you must adhere to it. If no one mentions what to wear, it still does not mean you should show up in the latest grunge look.
Aim for smart casual and definitely dress for comfort, especially when it comes to your footwear. You can expect to spend a major portion of the day on your feet touring the campus and participating in different activities. Wearing your most comfortable pair of shoes will ensure that you make the most of what the day has to offer.
To be safe, wear your most comfortable pair of shoes because you are guaranteed to be on your feet. Some campuses offer a walking tour during orientation, while others may only break you up into groups for team building activities.
You will also get your college ID photograph taken out on this day. This ID gives you access to all campus resources including the computer labs, library, and recreation center. You will be expected to wear this ID everyday on the campus so think about how you want to look on that photograph.
Can my parents accompany me to orientation day?
It used to be that orientation day was only for students and many colleges still follow the ‘students-only’ tradition. In recent years however, some colleges also include parents to help make the transition easier for them too. If your college offers parent orientation (check out our parent’s guide), it is a good idea for your parents to attend.
Will I get a chance to stay overnight on campus after orientation day?
Some colleges encourage freshman students to spend the night on campus so they are not completely overwhelmed when the semester starts. Schools that do allow this will let you know beforehand so you can make the necessary arrangements. They will also most likely ask you to let them know in advance if you plan on staying overnight on campus.
If you are keen on staying in the dorm overnight but the orientation material does not mention anything about it, it does not hurt to call and ask anyway.
Do all colleges have an orientation day?
Most colleges in the US have an orientation day for incoming students. Some may call it by another name.
Will there be icebreaker activities?
Probably! Orientation will provide a lot of information, but it be a lot of fun as well. Orientation is the start of school spirit, and the leaders will likely give you plenty of college swag and have you participate in fun or quirky icebreakers.
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