Orientation is an exciting time in the soon-to-be college student’s life. It is their first experience on campus as a real student before their move in day. Orientation is designed to familiarize the student with campus, resources, and generate enthusiasm. It is also a big moment for the parents. They are sending their child on a path that will lead to their success. This also might be the parents’ first experience of “letting go.” Many orientations last two days and the student has the option to stay in a dorm (i.e. away from their parents). This is a great opportunity to experience college life before move in day, and a chance for parents and students to mentally prepare for what is to come. Here are some helpful tips for parents on college orientation.
You will separate.
Many sessions at college orientation are intended for students and parents to attend jointly, but there will also be time apart. This is, again, to help prepare for the separation college will bring and also because of practical reasons; the student and parent need different information. Parents will likely cover financial services information, student health, campus safety, residence hall information, academic programs, support service, and advising information. It is also important to realize that your student will be making decisions independently. Many students head off with their orientation leader and complete activities such as creating their schedule. This should ultimately be up to them and the guidance of their leader.
Even as an adult, asking a question in a room full of strangers can be intimidating. Maybe you are worried about asking a question other college-orientation-veterans may know, but don’t be! If you don’t ask at orientation, you’ll likely go home still wondering and have difficulty ever getting it answered. This is your time to ask! Orientation leaders and staff understand this- that is what they are there for!
Listen to your child.
Although you are consuming important information, let your child share their experience first when you meet up. This will be their college experience, after all. Find out what they are excited or worried about. Their questions may have been answered in your session, so take this opportunity to let them know what you learned. If they are feeling more nervous than excited, try and figure out what is causing them distress. Maybe all they really need to is to have someone (you) listen to them. Or maybe you can help them find resources on campus to make them more excited for their time at the chosen school.
Lastly, make sure to enjoy this time. It is a proud accomplishment for both student and parent. It is likely that it was a joint effort to get to this day, you should be proud of the studying and applying. Look at this as the starting point for a successful future for your child!