What to expect at freshman orientation


Once your student chooses a college, they’ll be expected to attend new student orientation. This is where they’ll go to campus, learn all sorts of things about their new college and take care of certain tasks, which can include getting their student ID, submitting immunization records and enrolling in classes. 

It’s a big day, orientation. So we’re sharing some tips to help your student be ready to get the most out of the experience.

How to prepare for orientation

First, know the time and location. Before orientation, your student’s college should have sent them a schedule and information on where to park and where to go when they arrive on campus. Make sure they check out the maps so they don’t spend the morning wandering around looking for where they need to be. Many college orientation programs are a full-day event, so your student will want to eat a healthy breakfast, dress comfortably, wear good walking shoes and bring a water bottle. 

What to expect in orientation presentations

When orientation day begins, your student will be introduced to everything about their new university through various information sessions. Some of the things they’ll learn about are:

  • Support resources like tutoring, the health center, the library and other services the college offers. 

  • How to navigate their new campus.

  • Their college and degree program.

  • Their residence hall.

  • Some facts, history and traditions of the college.

Your student will also meet plenty of other new students, and they might even register for classes at orientation.

What questions to ask at orientation

Your student will likely have tons of questions at orientation. Make sure they know to not be shy about asking. After all, that's what orientation is for, and plenty of other students will also have similar questions.

If your student isn’t sure what they should be asking, here are some ideas:

  • Are there opportunities for student employment?

  • What if it’s not working out between me and my roommate?

  • What’s the policy on having guests in the residence hall?

  • When do the dining halls open and close?

  • How does the college keep students safe on campus?

  • Are there mental health resources on campus?

  • What transportation options are there on and around campus?

  • What’s the best way to get textbooks? Buying, renting, etc.?

And if your student doesn’t have any questions going in, tell them not to worry — it’s likely that once they get there and start hearing about the university, questions will come up.

What to do after attending orientation

Once orientation is over, your student may have a to-do list. Each college is different, but it could include meeting with an advisor, picking their meal plan or following up on any items they weren’t able to take care of at orientation. They should start thinking about the things they’re going to take with them to their dorm room and what they’re going to leave at home. They’ll want to make sure to get their books (although some students like to wait until classes begin to make sure which books are really required). Your student should also keep in contact with any new friends they met at orientation.

Embrace it

Lastly, your student should take the time before or during orientation to realize what a milestone they have reached. Going to college is a big deal, and they will remember this period of their life forever. Encourage your student to pause for a moment and take it all in.