What Happens During College Orientation?

You’ve heard you should attend a college orientation as part of your selection process. It sounds exciting! But do you know exactly what is orientation in college and what happens during college orientation? Knowing what college orientation is and what to expect are important to helping you get the most from your orientation session.

What Is Orientation in College?

Orientation in college is essentially an introduction to college life in general as well as an introduction to that particular college.

The truth is choosing a college can be challenging. With so many amazing colleges across the country, each offering a selection of top-notch facilities, choosing the best match is not easy. College orientations are held to familiarize prospective students with the facilities that each campus offers.

It allows students interested in attending that college to get a better look at what to expect in terms of the size and layout of the campus, classrooms, and facilities. More importantly, it allows students to get a first-hand feel of the campus ambience and to interact with potential professors and classmates.

These first-hand experiences of a campus can help you make a more informed decision about whether or not it is the right one for you.

Understanding what is orientation in college only gives you a glimpse into the amazing experience that lies ahead. Learning more about what happens during college orientation will give you a better look at what to expect and how to prepare so you can get the most out of the experience.

The Itinerary Is Different from One Campus to Another

Every campus is different when it comes to what they plan for college orientation programs and how they organize the day. Some colleges break you up into random groups, some talk to the entire attendance, and others organize you by major. So if you’re an English major, you may be completing your orientation with others studying English or something similar.

Even the duration differs from one college to another. Some may organize a day filled with activities. Others may plan a short afternoon session. And still others may organize an overnight program.

Different schools also plan a variety of different academic and non-academic activities and seminars.
Before you attend your college orientation, make sure you read up on the paperwork they sent you. The paperwork includes a detailed itinerary of everything that’s been planned for the day and what you need to bring along with you.

In general, colleges will include some combination of the programs mentioned below.

There’ll Be A Campus Tour

This is a standard feature at almost all college orientations. No orientation is considered complete without a tour of the campus scheduled in.

During the tour you’ll get an idea of where all the academic and extracurricular facilities are located around campus. A tour guide will take their group around the education buildings, individual classrooms, library, computer lab, gym, cafeteria, dorms, and other facilities including the emergency stations. This helps new students get familiar with the layout and their surroundings, which goes a long way in easing the transition when they arrive in August.

During a campus tour, you will also find out where the student health center is located and where the safety phones are installed around campus. These are vital on any college campus and for many parents and students, it can make the difference between choosing or not choosing a campus.

Be Prepared to Sit Through At Least One If Not More Presentations

Presentations are another integral feature of all college orientation programs. These presentations cover things a wide range of topics from major selection and style of lectures to campus policies, campus amenities, and safety protocol.

These sessions are packed with a wealth of information. They cover the most important aspects of life on campus. College authorities want prospective students to have a better understanding of what they offer and what they expect in return. This ensures that the student body consists of only those who are interested in what the school is offering and who agree to abide by the school’s policies. These presentations also give you the opportunity to evaluate the cool and determine whether or not it fits in with your principles and preferences.

Keep a notebook and pen handy and make notes during these presentations. There’s a lot of information to take in within a short span of time and you’re likely to forget important details without written notes.

Also, write down any questions that come up during the presentation. Most presentations are followed by a Q&A session. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for any clarifications you need. Chances are, many other students would also like to get that same question answered but are too shy to ask.

You’ll Get Your ID Photograph Taken

At some time during the orientation, you will be asked to go to a specific location to get your college ID photograph taken. This is your all-purpose college account card. You’ll need to carry it around on you at all times and usually displayed, not stashed away in your wallet or pocket.

As a college student, you’ll need an ID for almost everything, from registering for classes and getting into your residence to borrowing a book from the library, paying your college bills, and getting a meal at the dining hall. You may even get discounts at several stores if you have a student ID.

There Will Be Time to Discuss Financial Aid Too

Financial aid is one of the biggest concerns for most future college students and their parents. Colleges understand this and will make sure to schedule time to cover this topic on orientation day.

Staff associated with the financial aid office will first outline the various types of financial aid the school offers and the minimum eligibility criteria. This will usually be followed by a question-and-answer session. You can also schedule a one-on-one chat if you need more detailed information.

Before setting out for the college orientation, it’s a good idea to take time and read through the financial aid package the school would have sent you with the acceptance letter. Also, make a list of questions that you have regarding any aspect of the financial aid package. This will help you get the most from the financial aid presentation and question and answer session on that day.

You May Take Placement Tests

Some colleges use the freshman orientation as an opportunity to test your abilities on certain subjects. Common tests include Math and various foreign languages. Your grade on these tests will help the school determine what level you are on in the subject. If you score low on the Spanish exam, for example, you may be required to start at Beginner Spanish 1. However, if you score higher, you may be able to start at Intermediate Spanish 1.

These placement tests aren’t always required, and sometimes colleges will let you complete them at home on your own time. Be sure to read up on your college’s orientation requirements.

You’ll Get a Chance To Meet Your Professors

For many students, the chance to meet their future professors is the highlight of orientation day. These are the mentors who will play a big role in shaping your future prospects. After all, most of the time in college is going to be spend in class attending lectures. If you’ve already chosen your major, take this opportunity to introduce yourself to your professors.

You’ll Create Your Class Schedule

Orientation is almost always the time the college uses to help freshmen choose their first semester schedule. They will explain the courses that are mandatory in your first year, and also help you start to have a plan in mind regarding your GE requirements and intended major. Most colleges require you to take Rhetoric, for example, your first year, but if you took AP English and Speech in high school, you might be able to skip those courses.

There will be an academic advisor present on orientation day to help students pick classes they need to get started, whether it’s for their major or in general education. If you’re not sure about which classes to take, don’t hesitate to ask an academic advisor. They’ll be happy to help you get your classes all lined up. So when the semester starts, you’re ready to go.

Must Do: Mingle and Make Friends

Almost everyone attending orientation day is filled with a mix of trepidation and excitement. They’re excited at the thought of college, new friends and the promise of freedom. But there’s also that ‘what if’ at the back of everyone’s mind.

Don’t let your nervousness or anxiety stop you. Remember, everyone is likely as nervous as you. Introduce yourself to the others attending the orientation. Exchange stories. Ask them about the courses they’re taking, what clubs they’re interested in joining, or what made them choose that particular school.

Not only will you get a different perspective from other students, but you may just find someone you get along very well with. You may even find your future dorm-mate!

Parents May or May Be Able to Attend Orientation in College

Until a few years ago, orientation was a ‘students-only’ event. Today, more and more colleges are welcoming parents to orientation day. It is always a good idea for parents to attend if a college offers parents orientation. Although every college organizes the day differently for parents, one thing is common to all – these sessions can be immensely invaluable especially if this is their first experience with college.

On orientation day, parents and students have a few common sessions but they are separated for a major portion of the time. For instance, the campus tours may be for both students and their parents together, but the presentations will be separate.

Parent presentations focus on enlightening parents about the school’s policies and safety measures. This is important for all parents. They also familiarize parents with the various departments and their responsibilities. They provide important contact numbers. Importantly, they lay out the tuition payment schedule and where and how to pay the bills. These presentations almost always end with a question-and-answer session.

You May Be Able to Stay Overnight on Campus

Some schools welcome and even encourage freshman students to spend a night in a dorm room on a campus. Staying a night on campus will make the transition easier for you so you’re not completely overwhelmed on your first day of the new semester.

If your college allows it, you absolutely must grab this opportunity. Check the orientation material and see what it says. Don’t presume it’s not an option just because it’s not mentioned. Call the college and ask anyway and make sure to pack a few extra clothes and necessary toiletries.

How To Prepare for Orientation Day

Orientation in college is a big day filled with lots of activities and a back-to-back itinerary. Being prepared will help you get the most from this important day.

Start by reading through all the material the college has sent you and going through their website in detail. Keep a small notebook and pen handy.

Make notes about things you’re interested in and would like to know more about at in-person on orientation day. Also make a note of questions you want answered or points you want clarified. Make sure to carry this notebook along with you on orientation day.

Now you are ready!

It’s important to remember that orientation isn’t scary! It’s the time to get ready for your upcoming semester. College orientation prepares you for the next four or five years. Many students even meet lifelong friends during this event. Do not forget to look at the orientation schedule, especially if your college is doing overnight orientations. You’ll want to make sure you have everything you need to complete paperwork and be comfortable.

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