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How to Get the Most Out of College Freshman Orientation

Aug 19, 2013 • Kevin Wandrei • College Life
College freshman orientation is packed with ice breakers.

College freshman orientation is packed with ice breakers.

If you’re anything like I was when I started college, the thought of college freshman orientation has you utterly overwhelmed. All in one week, you’ll be attending back-to-back events, information sessions, and social ice breakers. New things will be flying at you at high-speed. While this hyper-business might seem overwhelming, it’s actually very helpful in your transition to college if you can make the most of it.

It’s easy to enjoy orientation. To keep you engaged, most colleges make orientation fun. In my case, I went on a multi-day hiking trip with college freshmen, where we bonded over camp games and s’mores. You may not be going on a multi-day hiking trip, but whatever you’re doing, here are 3 tips to make sure you make the most of your orientation to college.

1. Cultivate Responsible Habits

From your college freshman orientation onward, you should focus on behaving responsibly and creating new positive habits for college. This starts by knowing your vices. If late-night trips to Sonic or McDonald’s are your weakness, commit to avoiding these things right off the bat. When I arrived on campus, I went cold-turkey on my weekly Dunkin’ Donuts coffee runs, for example. This got me started on a new, healthier, habit that I kept up throughout college.

Keep in mind, however, that there are other unfamiliar things that college might present, like controlling yourself in a seemingly endless buffet at a dining hall. I initially didn’t think of that as a challenge, but it proved to be a tough one! The moral of the story: make responsible choices right off the bat and it’ll be easier to stick to them throughout college.

2. Meet Other People and Make Friends

Being around so many new people can be overwhelming, but resist the urge to cloister yourself in your dorm room. If you want to have fun in college, use orientation to make friends and be social, even if you’re an introvert. I myself am introverted, so I often wanted some down time alone. But orientation helped me realize that there were plenty of other less-than-social-butterfly types with whom I could bond.

Go to your college’s social events — whatever they are — and step out of your comfort zone. Doing so will definitely be rewarding, and you’ll make lasting friendships. For example, I remember going to a swing dancing session — and, trust me, I’m no dancer — and met some great people.

3. Do NOT Skip Those Information Sessions

College freshman orientation isn’t all fun and games. You’re there to learn about the new academic system you’re entering. This includes dorm rules, class registration, the honor system, dining halls, textbook purchasing, parking, and a litany of other detailed regulations. In most cases, these will probably be presented to you through a combination of PowerPoint presentations and handouts in manila folders.

Here’s a tip: even if you think you have something better to do, don’t skip these presentations. You really, really don’t want to miss important deadlines, like class registration or financial aid enrollments. In my case, I wasn’t exactly attentive during these information sessions, and I paid the price — literally. I failed to submit my college’s health insurance waiver; even though I had my own private plan, I ended up having double (expensive) insurance coverage.

Whatever your college orientation will offer — ice breakers, field trips, or presentations — use these three tips to make the best of it. Be responsible, social, and alert, and you’ll come away from the experience well prepared for four years of fun and learning. It might be a whirlwind of new people, new places and new rules, but you’re sure to enjoy it and learn a lot about college (and yourself) along the way.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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Kevin Wandrei

Kevin Wandrei

Kevin Wandrei is a freelance writer and public administration graduate student at Cornell University. Apart from writing and studying, he enjoys traveling, and has visited eight countries on four continents. Visit Kevin's website: http://www.kevinwandrei.com.

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