The first step of becoming a true College of Charleston student is going to Orientation. Orientation is when you spend 2 days at the college getting to know fellow students and learning about your new school. For some, this will be your first time really seeing and being in the college. For others, this will be the first time that you realize college is actually happening and approaching fast. The first orientation will begin June 19th and the last will begin August 17th. To see the full schedule, click here. While orientation at the College of Charleston seems simple and appears to be a breeze, there are a few things to know before going.
1. You’re going to walk a lot.
Campus is much bigger than you think. While CofC is fairly closely located, many of the residence halls and classrooms are farther from Cougar Mall where your orientation will be beginning.
2. You’re going to play “get to know me” games with your orientation group.
During my orientation at the College of Charleston, my orientation leaders has us play “I love a cougar who…”. The idea of the game is to start the game with everyone in a circle while one person stands in the middle. The person in the middle says “I love a cougar who..” and they say something that they love. For example, “I love a cougar who loves CofC.” Everyone that also loves CofC would then try to change places with someone else in the group and whoever was left without a spot stood in the middle. Basically, musical chairs with no music. You can expect something similar to this to be played probably on your first day of orientation.
3. Do not expect to be fast friends with everyone in your group.
Just like you, everyone else at orientation is nervous. More than likely, you won’t know anyone at your orientation and the few people that you do know, probably won’t be in your group. If you’re not usually an extrovert, today would be the day to try to be. Do not be afraid to make the first move and introduce yourself to someone.
4. You are going to be separated from your family.
If you’re parents or siblings signed up to attend orientation with you, they will not have the same schedule as you. You will be given a schedule and whoever comes with you will get one as well. There is a student orientation and a family orientation. The idea of orientation is to separate you from your family and force you into the college atmosphere. Being on your own will also force you to interact with other students at the orientation. You will reunite with your family for the lunch hour and for certain informational meetings.
5. What you hear at orientation and what your family hears at orientation is totally different.
During your orientation, you will hear about campus activities, clubs, sororities/fraternities, and classes. Your group leaders will often give you information about the dining halls, professors, or social scene that they wouldn’t typically say in front of faculty or parents. While your parents are in their orientation, that will hear about public safety, financial aid, and on campus jobs. That being said, it is very beneficial to have a family member at orientation because they also receive very useful information.
6. Bring an umbrella.
Rain in Downtown Charleston is the worst. Even if the forecast only calls for a low chance of rain, throw an umbrella in your bag because Charleston gets rain all the time. If you know for sure that it will rain or its already raining, wear rain boots too. Downtown floods quickly and standing water will be everywhere if there is a lot of rain. It never hurts to be prepared when it comes to rain.
7. Bring your best smile!
While at orientation, you will receive your Cougar Card. A Cougar Card is a school ID that will have your name and picture on it. This ID will be your way into your residence hall, sports activities, dining halls, etc. This is the most important item that you will have on you during the day on campus.
8. Have an idea of what classes or major you’re interested in.
During orientation at the College of Charleston, you will be asked a dozen times “Hey, what’s your major?”. Whether you know your major or you’re undecided, it helps to have an idea of what classes you might want to take. On the first day of orientation, everyone breaks into groups depending on what your major is and you then go to a meeting with someone in charge of the department of your desired major. On the second day of orientation, you register for your fall classes. Don’t worry, your first semester is usually full of general education classes but you could probably squeeze in one class related to your desired major.
9. You will get a first hand experience of the dining halls.
When you sign in on Day 1, you will also receive a voucher to eat at Liberty Fresh Foods Dining Hall for free 1 of the 2 orientation days. During your lunch hour, you and your family will have the option to go explore and indulge in all the dining hall food you could possibly want. This will also help give you an idea of which meal plan you will want during the semester.
10. Take notes!
If someone says something helpful that you may want to remember, write it down. Start a notes page in your phone and write down anything that your advisors say that may be useful. Urge your families to write down what they hear in their informational meetings. Any information about housing, classes, or financial aid is extremely valuable.
College of Charleston is a beautiful and exciting campus. While at orientation, take the time to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy your surroundings. You will be spending the next four years of your life here; enjoy them. Fall in love with this school and you will never have a dull day. Orientation is just the beginning of your college experience.