As an incoming freshman, college orientation seemed like a pointless, waste of my time. However, most orientations activities and seminars, although boring and instructional at times, are scheduled with students’ best interests in mind.
At most orientations, schools seek to provide a realistic two-three day simulation of life at the university. For most, this includes a first look at dorm life and independence. Other than physical essentials needed for orientation (think alarm clock, personal hygiene products, etc.), an open mind is the most important item to remember to pack. At my orientation, I remember clinging to my soon-to-be roommate (who I happened to know before college) and a few girls she had met at her orientation programs. In my typical fashion, I avoided making small talk (as I tend to be a bit awkward with conversation topics), and kept to myself, thinking, I already had friends, why would I need more. Years later, I realize how important it is to simply be friendly. Everyone is nervous. Everyone is coming in worrying about making friends. Everyone is in the exact same boat, so why not take a plunge into the water and make some acquaintances?
More importantly than making friends, however, (since you’ll meet tons of people during your settlement into the first few months), is to try to indulge on every information session and program offered. Take time to meet with your advisor(s) (make sure your schedule is on track, ask any questions concerning majors/minors/or classes, or address any other thoughts you may have- they are there to help!), and tour the facilities that are going to be of use over the next four years (classrooms, athletic center, cafeteria, library, etc.). While you may not be using these buildings until many weeks from now, having a physical image of these areas of your new home will make your first weeks transition to college much easier.
These planned activities may seem both time consuming and overwhelming, so try to do some exploring on your own as well. During my orientation, the friends I had made and I spent one evening having dinner and walking around Georgetown. While our rendezvous may not have been on the orientation curriculum, it was a practical way to get to know each other, as well as become more familiar with and acclimated to not just the university, but the city as well.
— By Erin Cunningham, George Washington University
— Image from Dickinson College