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Starting college is an exciting time in your life, though you undoubtedly have mixed emotions. You may be anxious to learn who your new roommate will be, eager to become more independent, or nervous about making new friends and navigating campus. Perhaps some “fear of the unknown” sets in, such as figuring out what you want to study or what classes will be like. Some students have anxiety about leaving the comfort and familiarity of their home town, friends, and family. Just know that you’re not alone! All of these emotions are normal and there are ways to combat most of them well before move-in day.

Introduction to college life

Attending new student orientation is a great way to ease many of your concerns. Student orientation is typically held on college campuses during the summer months, prior to the start of the academic year.  It’s usually a one-day event filled with information and activities that provide incoming students and their families an overview of what to expect as a new member of the college community.

Is it important to attend orientation? Absolutely!

Get acclimated

Orientation day allows you to meet and interact with other incoming students and, hopefully, establish some new friendships. Remember, college is a fresh start and everyone at orientation is in the same boat, so make the most of your experience!

You’ll also have the chance to tour campus and become familiar with many of the buildings. By the time the school year begins, you’ll be more comfortable locating your classrooms and won’t seem so “green” when navigating campus.

Take in presentations and panels

Many colleges conduct skits and activities to help break the ice, along with sessions by support staff to discuss various campus resources, including student health, tutoring services, and the career center to name a few.

Current students may provide information on topics like time management, study habits, getting along with your roommate, and inside tips for adjusting to college life. There’s usually time set aside for a panel discussion (made up of college students and/or college representatives) to answer questions from incoming students and their parents. Be sure to get all of your questions answered as it will help put your mind at ease.

Check out clubs and organizations

Orientation is a great time to learn more about clubs and organizations at the college, including what to expect from each of them and the benefits of joining one or more. Keep an open mind when learning about these opportunities as it could spark a new interest, allowing you to take a more active role while receiving your education.  Statistics show that college students who become involved and are socially integrated early on are more likely to stay enrolled and earn their degree.

Register for classes

Faculty and academic advisors will sit down with you, guide you through the registration process, and help you get enrolled in the classes you should take. They can answer questions, discuss available elective classes, and provide a better picture of what collegiate academics look like. By the time you leave orientation you will likely have your class schedule in hand for the upcoming term. One more task crossed off your to-do list!

Say cheese

Put on a nice shirt, comb your hair, and get ready to smile! While at orientation you will have your picture taken for your student ID. The student ID is your passport to most things on campus, including special events and the dining hall. It can also provide discounts at businesses in the community.

Parents welcome

Although it’s called “student orientation,” it’s equally as important for parents to attend. If you’re a first-time college parent and this is all new, you naturally want to understand what your student’s college life will be like. Parents need reassurance that the college’s top priority is their son or daughter’s health, safety, and providing a great education. Even if your child will live at home while attending college, going to orientation sends an important message that his/her college education matters.

While it’s impossible for new students to learn EVERYTHING you need to know during your time in college, attending orientation will give you a realistic glimpse of what you’ll encounter in just a few short months. Enjoy your summer, and get ready for your next adventure!