College orientation can be overwhelming with a lot of new information to take in about a whole different environment than what you may be used to. You’ll be thrown a bunch of new information about the school and classes and such and you may not know how to process it entirely. You can relax because most of what will be told to you is information you can easily find again if need be, through the internet or other available sources. There are some things, however, you can benefit from really looking for during your orientation. Here are 15 things to pay attention to during your college orientation.
1. The vibe of the other students
An important thing to pay attention to during your college orientation can be the vibe/mood of the other students. This can mean the other students in your orientation group, or even just other students you may see around the school. If you see a majority of students don’t look excited or happy to be there then that may in itself be a red flag. It doesn’t mean you should make any rash decisions about transferring just yet, but it’s worth taking note of how the other students look around campus or in your college orientation group.
2. Location of the Dorms
The location of the dorms is a big thing to look for during college orientation. You want to see the location of them on campus in relation to the dining hall, library, rec center, and of course the class buildings. You likely won’t get much of a choice in where you live your first year, besides maybe choosing some “preferences,” so it’s nice to know where they all are so you can plan once you know where you’ll be living.
3. Dining Halls / Dining Options
The dining halls are a big part of your freshman year as it’ll likely be the main source of your food while living on campus. Thus, it’s nice to know where all the different dining options are on your campus, especially in relation to your dorm hall. Some dining areas may offer different types of food or options such as sit-in versus a grab-and-go food situation. College orientation is a good opportunity to ask your orientation guides and other students which dining areas are the best.
4. Recreation Center / Gym
If you don’t want to be a member of the “freshman-15” club then you should pay attention to where the recreation center/gym is located on your campus. If you don’t know what the freshman-15 is it’s essentially where kids go to college and start eating a lot and drinking without also putting in the time to work out. This quickly results in you gaining weight (15+ pounds) during your first year of college because you were simply having too much fun. Pay attention during your college orientation to where your rec center is located and maybe ask if your guides know the busiest times so you can plan when you want to go.
5. The Library
The library is an amazing resource during college so don’t skip out on it until you see all it has to offer. It’s a great, quiet place to study or to get a room and throw together a group project with others from your class. It’s got tons of resources for studying a wide array of subjects and also has online resources/permits for getting more selective reading material. It’s good to know where the library is located on campus as well as finding out how big it is, how typically crowded it is, and how useful it is in terms of study/research resources.
6. Buildings Related to Your Major
If you already know what your major is before college orientation then great; if not, don’t sweat it. You’ll have plenty of time and odds are you may even end up changing majors once you start taking the different kinds of classes that are out there. If you do know which subject you want to pursue then it’s good to pay attention during your college orientation to the buildings that are related to your major. It’s helpful to know how many buildings are dedicated to chemistry (for example) and how extensive the resources are that are available in those buildings. It may help show which majors your school better caters towards!
7. Size of the Campus
It’s important to pay attention to the size of your campus during your college orientation. Although you may not have your class schedule yet, you’ll need to plan out how much time you’ll need to reach each class either coming from your dorm hall or a previous class. It’s a good rule of thumb to give yourself an extra five to 10 minutes during the first couple of weeks. You probably don’t want to be that freshman showing up late to all your classes because you “don’t know your way around campus.”
8. Clubs, Activities, & Events on Campus
During your college orientation, it’s important to pay attention to the variety of clubs and extracurricular activities that are available on campus. Clubs/extracurriculars can be a great way to transition to college life and can be great for making new friends! Ask questions and find out about the most popular clubs and extracurriculars that you might be interested in. Find out about the sports teams or events that students typically go to.
9. Greek Life
If you’re interested in it, it can be very beneficial to pay attention to what your college orientation guides have to say about your school’s greek life. Whether or not it’s popular, the typical people involved in it, the cost, and so forth are good things to pay attention to if it’s covered during your college orientation. However, don’t let word of mouth dissuade you from things you may be interested in! Find out more and see if it’s a good fit for you.
10. Available Health Clinics / Offices
A very important thing to pay attention to during your college orientation is the location and services related to health on campus. You want to know exactly where the health clinics and offices are located just in case, God forbids, something terrible happens to you or someone you’re with. It’s good to know when and where you can go to get your flu shot or a health examination when you need one.
11. Campus Resources – Advisors, Financial Aid, Etc.
There are many resources available on college campuses for students so it’s good to pay attention to where these are and how extensive they are during your college orientation. You want to know about academic advisors and how helpful/available they are to help you out during your transition to college life. It’s definitely worth noting, if covered, the process of changing your major if that thought crosses your mind during your time at college. It’s also helpful to know where the financial aid offices are in case you want to apply for loans or scholarships or ask about your current financial aid situation. Take advantage of your college orientation to learn all you can about what your college campus has to offer!
12. Good Outdoor Study Spots
If you’re the type of person who likes finding a nice spot to study outside then use your college orientation to find some. Ask your guides, fellow students, or just look around while you tour your campus to find great spots in the sunshine to read your book or study for that midterm.
13. Nearby Stores / Restaurants
College orientation doesn’t have to be only about what’s available on campus, but off-campus as well! There are bound to be plenty of stores (grocery, retail, etc.) and tasty restaurants that are either on or off-campus. It can be worth noting where grocery or retail stores are when the need arises for some fresh, non-dining hall food or when you need some new clothes when the winter hits. Sometimes you can’t only rely on care packages from back home!
It can be important to pay attention during college orientation to the available transportation students typically use around your campus. Buses can be especially helpful when you don’t have your own car or know someone that has a car, and you want to go shopping or do something else off-campus.
15. Popular Off-Campus Spots
If covered it can be beneficial to hear from your college orientation guides what are the best off-campus spots for students for hanging out, drinking, etc. Find out where are the best nearby bars to hit when your long-awaited 21 birthday finally comes around. Ask where are the nearby arcades, bowling alleys, or similar fun locations that students typically go to when they want to get away from campus and just hang out. Take advantage of your time in college, and use your college orientation as a way to get familiar with and feel more comfortable about the place you’re about to spend the next four (or more) years having the time of your life!
What are some of the things you did or wish you had paid attention to during college orientation? Share them with us in the comments below!
Featured Image Source: Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash
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I have a passion for helping others and see journalism as a great way to reach and impact many people. Born in Texas but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area! Then with a short detour in Boulder, Colorado to get my bachelor's in Journalism with a minor in political science. I'm a determined, motivated individual striving to make a difference in this world. I have hopes to play a role in the continued development of journalism and in maximizing efforts to inform and inspire the public. Check out my articles on Society19!