How to Make the Most of Your College Orientation

This post is part of a week-long series to help new high school and college students prepare for their freshman year. Throughout this week, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for advice, tips, and tricks for this critical transition.

College orientation is a simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking experience. While all schools differ, you should generally expect structured sessions geared toward helping you learn what your new school is all about. Make the most of your college orientation by networking with other students, meeting with advisers and professors, and exploring available academic and social opportunities.

Make the most of your college orientation by networking with other students

College orientation allows you to meet students from all academic interests and locations in a relaxed environment. Spend this time meeting your classmates and discovering shared interests. Ask questions such as:

  • Why did you choose this school?

  • What is your intended major?

  • Are you living on or off campus?

Discuss your personal interests as well, and note any similarities. This approach can foster conversations about diverse topics.

Your classmates may also know things that you don’t, like information on available clubs or tidbits about the surrounding town. Taking this opportunity to meet others in a low-pressure environment can make your transition a bit smoother.

Make the most of your college orientation by meeting with advisers and professors

During orientation, advisers and professors often host panels, meet-and-greets, or open office hours. Take advantage of these opportunities whenever possible. Come prepared with questions about classes, majors, study abroad programs, or on-campus jobs. If there’s no scheduled time to meet with advisers or teachers, contact your college orientation coordinator to inquire about setting up a meeting time outside of your planned orientation schedule.

[RELATED: 5 Reasons Students Should Meet with Professors During Office Hours]

Make the most of your college orientation by exploring classes and academic opportunities

If classes are in session during your college orientation, inquire about sitting in on a class in your intended focus area. If your orientation is during a downtime between semesters, read through the course catalog to get an idea of the classes offered in various departments. Ask a current student in your desired department (if available) or an academic adviser to walk you through course options, required and elective classes, and important dates.

Depending on the schedule of your orientation, you might have the option to attend workshops based on your specific interests. Be sure to read about all offered workshops and meetings, and attend the ones that are most applicable to you.

[RELATED: Know the Difference Between In-Person, Online, and Hybrid Courses]

Make the most of your college orientation by learning about extracurricular activities

Many orientations offer a campus activities fair where representatives from various clubs are available to discuss what their organizations are all about. This is a great opportunity to explore clubs, volunteer opportunities, and sports teams. Remember, though, that you don’t have to commit to a club or organization right there; use this as a chance to see what’s available and what really peaks your interest. Talk to the representatives about why this organization is important, why they joined, and why you should want to be a part of it too. Note that if there’s no fair held during orientation, you’ll likely be able to learn more about extracurriculars through the school’s website, brochures, and other students.   

[RELATED: 9 Things Every College Student Understands]

College orientation is a great time to get to know your new school and classmates without the hustle and bustle of classes. Go into this experience with prepared questions about your school, major, available clubs, and opportunities for growth.

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