If you are one of the millions of new college students headed to orientation in a few days, here are some tips to help you get the most out of it while not feeling like you’re going crazy.
Orientation is the one time that colleges have your undivided attention – at least for part of it. And they have lots and lots of information they have every reason to believe you need or may need in the coming months and years. College administrators and faculty spend months planning it. It’s a big deal. It’s your first impression of the college, so everything has to look good. Many people are moving in at once, so they have to be highly organized. Programs have to be information-rich, entertaining, and mounted at times that don’t conflict with each other. It’s an extraordinary feat, and one which is notoriously difficult to pull off without a hitch.
Just do the following few things to ensure your orientation is a good one:
- Go to all of the mandatory programs. These are super important to the college for good reasons. Things like community reading conversations, college traditions, community values, sexual assault awareness, bystander training, wellness information, residential rules and regulations, academic integrity guidelines – they are all essential for you to understand your new home.
- Go to as many of the optional programs as you can. These will give you even more information about what the college thinks is important and the many opportunities that await you. Student activities fairs, academic department open houses, open advising sessions, local excursions – they are fun and interesting.
- When the orientation program separates parents from their kids, convince your parents to attend their activities while you attend yours. They put on different programs for many reasons, and if you parents attend your activity, well, it’s just not cool.
- If the college messes something up – misplaces your room packet or can’t find your immunization record – don’t freak out or yell at the harried administrator who is trying to help you. Know that it will all work out eventually.
- Stay hydrated.
- Sleep at least 8 hours a night.
- When you think everyone else looks like they have it all together and you are the only one who doesn’t, delete that thought and know that everyone feels just as weird, awkward, nervous, and anxious as you do. If you share your feelings with an RA or new friend, you will feel better and you will discover that you are not alone.
- Find a few minutes each day to reflect. What has orientation been like so far? What is your impression of the school? How are you feeling? What are your goals this week, this semester, this year? Moments of reflection will help you stay centered and true to yourself.
You only go through your first college orientation once. Make it a great one!