What Happens At College Orientation?


Orientation day: a summer event that soon-to-be college freshmen simultaneously dread and look forward to. My orientation was one of the most fun (but also most intimidating) days of my school career so far. It gives you a better feel of the college life than the visits you may have been on already and allows you to meet other new students who are just as nervous as you are. It’s going to be better than what you’re expecting, I promise.

Of course, orientation is different at every college and university, but here’s a general guideline of the things you’ll be doing at your college orientation:

Be introduced to your academic adviser:

This adviser will most likely be someone who is either in your major’s department or someone who specifically helps first-year students. You may have more than one if you’ve already decided on a major. Regardless, this person will help you choose your first year of classes and make a plan to get involved on campus.

Register for classes:

Whether it’s just your first semester or the whole year, you’re going to need some classes to take in order to attend the school. You’ll likely get some help from your adviser, and most of these classes will probably be general education credits (English, Math, Science, etc.) and maybe one or two from your major.

Take a campus tour:

See the campus (if you haven’t already) and the dorms. You probably won’t remember all of it by the first day and will still need help getting around, but it’s best to pay attention and familiarize yourself with where you’ll be living and going to class.

Get your student ID and set up accounts:

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. There will be long lines to get your picture taken–that’s right, just like picture day in middle school. Make sure you look stylin’–or not–if that’s what floats your boat.

Learn about campus facilities:

Tutoring centers, writing centers, libraries, advising center–they’ve got it all! These are actually really important to know about. You’re probably going to need help at least once.


These will cover topics like housing, financial aid, career exploration–the basics. It’s probably boring recycled information you’ve already heard before, but still pretty helpful.


Does this really need any more explanation? If that isn’t a reason to be excited, I don’t know what is. FYI–there is ALWAYS pizza.

Like I said, orientation is a little bit different for everyone, but it’s sure to be a lot of fun! Most colleges have some fun activities to do in between the “boring” stuff. My college separated us into groups and assigned a current student to be our “group leader.” They could tell us about recent firsthand experiences that could be useful to us: which professors to avoid, what kind of jobs are available on campus, which clubs are the most fun to join, and more. If your school doesn’t have students leading orientation, there are still students around campus taking summer classes who are more than likely happy to answer any questions you have.

Lots of colleges also have prize giveaways or raffles at some point during orientation. You can win stuff for your dorm, win a sweatshirt or a t-shirt, or maybe something cool like an iPad or a laptop. Always be sure to take advantage of raffles like these! Nothing is better than free stuff, especially when you’re about to be paying for tuition.

Overall, orientation is probably going to be a little scary at first; that’s completely normal! Everyone is going to be super nice and helpful, and most of the other students there are just as scared as you are. Make friends and get to know your future classmates! Let go of your fears and have a little bit of fun! It’s a lot better than high school already.

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