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Your Declassified Guide to College Freshman Orientation

The fall semester is just around the corner and millions of students are already eagerly awaiting their first foray in collegiate life. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that over 12 million students are expected to enter college full time. But life after you earn your high school degree can be very intimidating, not to mention confusing.

Colleges and universities know how hard it is to get your college life in order, which is why they host freshman orientations. But what activities can you expect in these events? What should you do during the orientation?

Here is you comprehensive guide to college freshman orientation.

What is College Freshman Orientation?

students walking into university
Freshman orientation is sometimes mandatory in certain colleges. Photo by Stanley Morales from Pexels

Freshman orientation is part of college tradition, alongside campus tours for younger teenagers. Although customarily an option, some college freshman orientations can sometimes be mandatory. Check with the college you’re attending if their orientation is mandatory or not. If it isn’t mandatory, you may be tempted to skip orientation but that’s going to be a huge mistake.

It’s an event that allows incoming freshmen to acclimatize to college life. Consider it as like a sampler of what the next few years of your life are going to be like. The activities in orientation can seem kind of cheesy, but their goal is to foster familiarity among your entire batch and let you explore different facets of collegiate life. Some orientations can help you find ways to make money while in school or even assist you in entering Greek life. Freshman orientation is a tutorial that could make the transition from high school to college less jarring.

What Activities Can You Expect During Freshman Orientation?

empty classroom inside a university
Campus tours are sometimes integrated with college freshman orientation. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

College freshman orientation features a dizzying array of activities, depending on the college you’re attending. No two campuses will have the same array of activities and their roster of activities can even change from year to year. However, there are some standard activities you can reasonably expect during a freshman orientation.

  • Greek Life Introduction

If the college you’re attending has fraternities and sororities, these organizations may send representatives to the orientation. Their role is to provide freshmen with orientation and let you gage if Greek life is for you.

  • Financial Assistance

During orientation, the college may present students with different options for securing their finances. They may have booths of teaching assistant jobs, budget planning assistance and similar services. They may also offer help for balancing life as a working student.

  • Freshman Mixers

One of the most anticipated activities during a freshman orientation is the mixer. These are parties, usually with plenty of food and beverages, where the facilitators encourage you to talk to other freshmen. There may even be older students in such mixers, providing you with plenty of people to talk to.

  • Student Services

Orientation is also when you’ll probably be familiarized with different student services. These may include academic tutoring, mental health services and other college functions. Understanding the different types of student serviced you can expect and how to make use of them is an important part of college freshman orientations.

  • Code of Conduct

Finally, an orientation isn’t all fun and games and socializing. During an orientation, you will be educated on the ground rules of the college. It’s vital that you take the code of conduct of the school to heart as too many infractions can cost you scholarships or even result in expulsion.

What Should You Do During Freshman Orientation?

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Caption: Forming acquaintances is key during a freshman orientation.

So with all these activities, what are you expected to do during a freshman orientation? If you feel at a loss of what you should be doing during such an event, here are a few things you should definitely consider. Doing any of these things will help you make the most out of your orientation experience.

  • Socialize

Your first order of business is to socialize with as many people as you feel comfortable talking to. Don’t stay to one side of the room or hall, go around and initiate conversations. You can be surprised with how many people share your interests and can be friendly faces around your first year in campus.

  • Ask Questions

Orientation is when you should ask as many questions as possible because the representatives will be ready to answer them. Are you curious about the different rooming situations in the dorms? Looking for a paid assistant job? Wondering if there’s a dress code? Ask away and you won’t have to leave the freshman orientation unfulfilled.

  • Familiarize

The primary function of an orientation is to help you get settled with the goings on of the college and the various cultures of collegiate life. Try to work yourself into conversations, listen to different speakers and make an effort to blend in. You’ll never know which aspects of college life you’ll take a liking to if you don’t give them a try.

What is Parents’ Orientation?

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Caption: Parents’ orientation help your parents cope with your departure for college.

Your freshman year at a college isn’t just a hard transition for yourself, but also for your family, especially your parents or guardians. In some colleges, they don’t just have college freshman orientation. They also have parents’ orientation where they help your parents come to terms with the realities of leaving a child in college. During such events, parents are encouraged to voice their concerns and they will receive information that can help them soothe their worries.

Your first year in college is an exciting time of your life and one that you shouldn’t be ill prepared for. Freshman orientation helps you be prepared for the rest of your tenure at college. Hopefully this guide will let you prepare for the experience as well.

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