Below, you will find the things no one tells you about college orientation. The things you need to know that aren’t on the website. The decisions you may need to make that you may not know about until you’re face to face with a computer screen, having to click “yes” or “no” to continue.
If you aren’t sure what to bring to your college orientation, you can find my packing list and 5 must-have’s here. A play by play of my orientation experience can be found here! This is my third and final post of my college orientation mini series. When I decided to create this post, I knew that I wanted to include as many voices as possible. No two schools are the same, but by including advice from a diverse group of people attending a diverse selection of universities, I hope that I am able to make this post as universal as possible.
I talked to 11 incoming freshman about their college orientation experience, which covers eight schools in five U.S. states. They shared their top college orientation tips with me, and I’m here to share them with you! Some responses have been edited for grammar or clarity.
11 Students. 8 Universities. 5 States.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions – you could learn valuable information that’s really helpful in the future!
Remember to bring toiletries because they may not be provided.
You may want to bring back-up clothes in case of an accident or if your dorm isn’t air conditioned! (I had the opposite problem – my room was freezing overnight!)
If you’re confused or find something to be unclear, everyone is probably just as confused as you are! This applies to everything – including your roommate situation! This is the first time rooming with a stranger for most people, so don’t sweat any conflicts that arise.
Make a plan for when you hope to shower, but be flexible! And try to communicate with your roommates if you’re in the room at the same time.
Bring your ID! This may be needed for check-in, registration, getting your university ID, etc.
It’s helpful to have important personal information such as your social security number memorized. You never know if the university will be wanting you to set up an account and what information will be required for you to do so!
Different schools work meals at orientation in different ways. At my school we just had a time for meals and everyone went to the same place to eat. At one of my friend’s schools though, they received a pre-loaded meal card good for three meals. In this situation if they wanted to go to the school’s creamery or get a snack anywhere, they had to use their own money. It’s a good idea to bring your wallet!
Try to make new friends because wandering around at night on a big campus (or a small one) is really scary, especially by yourself for the first time.
You will find your people!
You will be surprised.
When you talk to people about where you’re from and your school, it’s easiest to go with major cities or regions of states. Most people won’t know more than your state’s capitol and that’s okay. If you’re worried about geography you can always take a look at a map before you go!
Bring food because you may not be able to eat for a while.
Go in with a good attitude and just relax because you will meet a lot of people and everyone’s in the same place as you not knowing anyone.
Listen, because they’re going to be giving you important information that you’ll want to remember.
Don’t stress about the long term. The people you do or do not hang out with will probably change come the fall. In other words, you don’t have to find your best friend or your soulmate at college orientation.
While considering the point above, you should still try to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Just make sure to master the graceful exit if things go south after the intro!
Do something outside your comfort zone.
Ask your orientation leaders questions, that’s what they’re there for! It’s okay to be embarrassed, but if you step up and ask something, odds are other people have similar questions that they find equally embarrassing.
Make a list of questions you want to ask before you head to orientation so you don’t forget anything in the moment!
Check the weather, and dress accordingly. If you think you may need an umbrella? Bring one.
If you have to go to the bathroom go find a bathroom. Don’t wait for an opportunity because “bathroom breaks” aren’t scheduled. Just make sure you know where you need to be so you don’t get lost rejoining your group!
Be in touch with your parents. Make sure that if you need something from them you can get it – like who your third emergency contact should be.
Water is hard to find and not readily available across campus – bring your own.
College orientation is a really long tiring day. They’re trying to cram a ton of information into the day but half of it isn’t remembered because of how fast paced the delivery is. Take notes, to try to retain as much as possible.
No one cares who you were in high school, and no one cares who you were in middle school.
If your school has required courses take a look at them before you go in to orientation to make registration easier.
Have an idea of the courses you’d like to register for.
Don’t freak out if the courses you want to take aren’t available, things can always be changed.