Orientation | SchoolsInTheUSA.com

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Going to college is a big change from going to high school. New people, new classes, new teachers--new everything. How will you find your classes, buy your books and meet your new friends and classmates? Where do you go to get snacks or your meals? Are there a lot of things to do on campus or do you have to go into town to see a movie? There are a lot of questions you will want to have answered before you can settle in and get used to your new college life.
Most colleges offer an orientation program full of activities designed to make the transition easier and help you make the most of your college experience. New students have the opportunity to get to know the campus, meet some of the institution's administration and find out where everything is. You can learn the college's rules and regulations and what to expect and what is expected of you.
Orientation, sometimes known as welcome or frosh week, is usually held either in the summer or just before the start of classes. Some colleges even make orientation mandatory for incoming students, to ensure that everyone has the same start to their college career. Orientations can be for students only or for parents too and can involve anything from barbecues to carnivals to camping trips. Some colleges sponsor alcohol-free events, some put on live concerts and others offer tours of the local city and/or countryside. Information on specific activities is usually available from the student affairs office before the actual orientation starts.
In recent years, college officials have taken the opportunity during orientation to explain their policy on hazing-i.e., it's illegal and unacceptable. Hazing is generally defined as any activity that demeans the character or inflicts bodily harm on the person in order to be inducted or initiated into an organization. New students get the chance to hear about some of the pitfalls on the path to independence and how to avoid them.

But why should you go? Surely you can find the buildings on your own, and your student handbook explains all the policies and procedures you need to know. But orientation is more than just finding out where the library and bookstore are and when final exams will start. It is your chance to start developing a sense of collegiate identity. Some good reasons to participate in your orientation:

  • If you're living in the dorms, it can help you meet other students who won't be living with you. Your dorm might be full of cool people and a great place to hang out, but college is about new experiences and it's always good to expand your social circle.

  • Unless your college is very, very small, it will be hard to find your way around at first. Orientation can help you plot out the fastest way to get to class, which comes in very handy when you wake up at 8:15 for an 8:30 class.

  • You can learn about the many campus resources available, from health services to tutoring to financial aid

  • Fun games and activities, plus displays and information about campus clubs and organizations

  • Free food!

  • New students should remember to bring a few things with them to fully enjoy the orientation experience:

  • Comfortable shoes-there will probably be a lot of walking, and blisters are never fun

  • Water bottle

  • Paper and pencil-just in case

  • All the forms you need to get filled out or handed in (ie financial aid, course registration)

  • Orientations and activities are different at every college-some take a couple of hours to tour the campus and register for classes while others offer a variety of events over the course of the whole week. Some colleges are now offering outdoor orientation programs, based on Outward Bound, where new students climb mountains, ford rivers and pitch tents under the stars together. These programs encourage students to interact with each other and work together to overcome obstacles.
    Check with the admissions or campus life office to find out of this kind of experience is offered at your college. Regardless of what you do, remember to pace yourself-you don't want to be too exhausted when you finally start your classes.

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