College Planning

What is College Orientation for First-Year Students?

Towards the end of the summer and right before the start of the school year, thousands of new and transferred students will attend their college’s student orientation. In this article, we break down common questions asked about these events.


What is college orientation?

College orientation is when a school invites new students to visit their campus to learn more about what the school offers and to provide chances to connect with other new students. The purpose of the orientation is to get students acclimated to the campus and to give them a feel for what their first year in college will be like. The college orientation length depends on the school, but usually lasts one day to one week. 


How do I prepare for orientation?

Students can prepare for orientation by completing the pre-orientation tasks that the school asks of them. Some of the things a school might ask for before attending an orientation on campus include:

  • Proof of citizenship
  • Roommate questionnaires
  • Immunization records

Students should also prepare some questions to ask school officials and potential future professors when they attend their student orientation.


What questions to ask during college orientation?

Students should take advantage of spending time on campus and learning more about their new school. Some common questions students have had include:

  • Where are the dormitories on campus?
  • Where are the cafeterias and food options on campus? Off campus?
  • How do I sign up or drop classes?
  • What is the credit policy for the AP Exams I’ve taken?
  • How do I pay my tuition? Where do I pay it?
  • How do I set up my college email account?


When do first-year students attend a college orientation?

New student orientation usually happens a few weeks before the start of the new school year in the fall, typically in July or August. 


What do students do at orientation?

Students usually participate in a number of activities when at college orientation. A few typical activities students participate in include:

  • Exploring the campus
  • Selecting courses for the semester
  • Attending academic seminars, depending on whether you chose a major
  • Participate in non-academic team building exercises or icebreakers
  • Taking placement tests to determine your level on a subject (depending on the institution)


Do students have to attend orientation?

At many schools, it is required for new students to attend orientation. Schools use orientation events to onboard students into their systems (housing, classes, etc.). Even if it is not required, it is a good idea to attend so that the transition to college goes as smoothly as possible.


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