Your summer orientation is your first introduction into college life. It will be unlike anything else you've ever attended before. You probably have been to orientations before, perhaps for middle school, high school or even kindergarten. However, it's more than likely that at age five, you didn't have to worry about picking the right classes for your major, figure out how to use the shower in the communal bathroom or sit through a bunch of less than thrilling lectures about transitioning into the new chapter of your life.
I recently returned from my own freshman orientation and, like everyone, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed. And that's completely normal! I ended up having a blast and left feeling more excited than nervous for my new beginning, but there are certainly some things I would have done differently. All schools run their orientations differently, but here are some general tips you can follow to make sure your orientation runs as smoothly as possible.
1. Bring comfortable shoes.
I cannot stress this one enough! Of course, campuses come in all different sizes and configurations, but you are still bound to do quite a bit of walking and/or standing during your orientation, no matter the size. My campus is rather spread out and hilly and according to my health app on my phone, I walked about twelve miles over the course of my two and a half day orientation. I had only brought my converse and flip flops with me, so needless to say, my feet were absolutely killing me the whole time. Forget fashion for a day or two, you want to be as comfortable as possible, so you can participate in as many fun activities as you can with your new peers. Your feet will thank you later!
2. Get to know your roommate(s) if you can.
If your college's orientation requires an overnight stay, it's likely that you'll be placed in a dorm with a roommate or two. While it is possible that you never cross paths until it's time to sleep due to conflicting schedules, if you do have time to chat and get to know them, I highly recommend you do. Even just basic small talk or a discussion about the day's events will make staying in a daunting, unfamiliar place just that much more comfortable. You never know, you might hit it off and leave with a new friend to meet back up with in the fall!
3. Find a group of new friends to hang out with.
One thing I'm pretty sure that all orientations have in common across the board is the "getting-to-know-you" icebreakers that you will inevitably have to participate in. They will seem lame at first, but they are a great way to find who might be fun to sit next to at dinner or someone you can strike up a conversation with on the way to the next activity. As someone who is shy and did not know a single person upon orientation check-in, I know how overwhelming such a task can seem. But almost everyone else doesn't know anyone either and is just looking for someone to hang out with during downtime. The more you open up to others, the more likely they are to open up back to you!
4. Don't be afraid to voice your concerns.
This is an extremely important time in your life. Have a question? Ask it. Nervous about something? Talk about it with someone. This is a ginormous life change, and everyone else is feeling the exact same nerves that you are. And if they say they aren't, they're lying. Just talking to a future classmate about the fears you have for the upcoming fall will ease your mind more than you think.
5. Attend all of the events that you are scheduled to.
Yes, some will be ridiculously boring and may seem irrelevant, but they were scheduled for a reason. The presenters still worked hard to put them together and they deserve your respect.
6. Don't do anything stupid.
You have at least four years to find out if college is really like it is in the movies. Follow the rules and just make your orientation about learning about your new home away from home and meeting new people. It will prove to be a more productive experience.
Orientation will prove to be a very overwhelming experience! A lot of your peers will be feeling the exact same way. Just know that your school has your back and will try everything they can to make sure you have a blast. Make the most of it all and you'll start counting down the days until your fall move-in date!
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