Freshman orientation is good for three things: becoming familiar with your surroundings on campus, building friendships early on with your hall mates and getting enough free cups and T-shirts to last a lifetime. Your days will start at the crack of dawn with hall breakfasts and plenty of bonding experiences, and by the time your Orientation Aide is finished with your activities at night, you will crash in bed and, if you're anything like me, dread the next morning where you'll have to do it all over again. No matter if you go to a large state school or a small college in the middle of nowhere, orientation is a huge ordeal that will consume your life for a few days and will throw you into every lecture on alcohol abuse, diversity, academics and safety that your college could possibly think of. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your orientation.
1. Start Socializing Early: Be social with your hall! You may be eating every meal and doing every single activity with your new roommate and your hall, so your best bet is to go into orientation as outgoing and social as you can. Friendships always form early on in a school year, so you don't want to miss out on any new friends because you were too scared to open up! Trust me, as the year goes on, you will become so close with your hall mates and friends in your dorm that things like fighting over the best shower in the gross hall bathroom or walking around with a green face mask on will just be normal.
2. Ask Questions: As an out-of-state student, by the time we moved in and orientation began, it had only been my second time on campus. That being the case, I had no idea where anything was and could barely remember the paths to get to my dorm. Orientation is the only time when the freshmen can pull out their campus maps and ask a million questions about where their classes are and get some sympathy from the upperclassmen. We've all been there and needed a little help learning our new surroundings just like you will. You will be happy you asked five times how to get to your Psychology 101 class when the first day of school comes!
3. Pay Attention: As freshmen, you are all coming from different states, different high schools, and from different experiences. Some of you may be more sheltered than others about all things from 20 page research papers to alcohol and drugs. The mandatory seminars that you will attend during orientation about diversity, academics, safety and alcohol and drugs do have important stories and lessons that students just tend to ignore. Even though you may think you have nothing to learn, those seminars always teach us something new that ultimately could be life changing.
4. Go to the Activities and Club Fair: Colleges usually allow the activities and club fair to be an optional activity because they can't really require you to join clubs or teams. However, take the hour out of your time to go and check out what your school offers. College is very different than high school, because you definitely will not have time to be apart of 50 different extracurricular activities to make your resume shine. Be sure to give the activities and club fair a chance and try to find one club to get involved with. Clubs are a great way for freshmen to make friends and have an active role on campus, greater than academics or just partying in your spare time. Also, there's always free food and giveaways at the activities fair, so you'll get even more free stuff just for going!
5. Embrace the Dining Hall...while you can: Freshmen are usually so giddy about the all-you-can-eat food at the cafeterias around campus and the seemingly millions of options. Enjoy that enthusiasm while you can, because by November you're not going to think the unlimited pizza or Taco Friday is the best thing in the world. The whole on-campus dining experience will get old and very frustrating, and you will probably end up eating cereal or salad for the majority of your meals because everything else will just seem repulsive. Make sure you go into your dining experience with an open mind and keep your enthusiasm high.
Although orientation will seem annoying after the 500th name game you play with your hall and others or the long lectures about alcohol abuse that seem to never end, orientation is a learning experience that you cannot afford to miss! The friendships and memories that you will have for the rest of your life definitely make the experience worth it. Even if you hate the activities, games and lectures (just like me and many others), you'll come to realize that something good always will come out of the exhausting and annoying experience.