10 tips for parents and supporters at college orientation
If you haven't had a student pursue higher education before you might be wondering, "What is college orientation?" College orientation is an introduction to life at university. New students will schedule their classes, meet classmates, become familiar with campus and visit support offices like advising and counseling.
College orientations can be a single-day event or multi-day visits. Most schools will host their college orientations the summer before students start classes. You can expect a day full of introductions, tours and scheduling. It's all about making the transition to college as smooth as possible.
Have more questions about college orientation? Check out our new student orientation FAQs.View Orientation FAQs
Some universities require students to attend college orientation. You might be wondering, do parents go to college orientation too?
Parents and supporters are not required to attend their student's college orientation. However, it can be extremely helpful for both you and your student to attend!
Over 80% of colleges or universities have some sort of parent, family or guest orientation programs according to Inside Higher Ed (August, 2019). While your student is scheduling classes and meeting new classmates, you'll be attending sessions of your own. Parent orientation sessions include; financial aid, move-in tips and how to best support your student during college.
After the day is over, you'll meet back up with your student. This is a great time to talk about what you experienced and to make sure they got all their questions answered.
10 tips for supporters at parent orientation
Here are ten tips to help college orientation go smoothly for you and your student.
- Register early
Most colleges and universities will host their orientations over the summer. If you have a transfer student, college orientation will take place the semester before they start classes. Registration opens up a few months in advance.
Make sure to keep an eye on the dates available and register as soon as possible. Registering early for college orientation means you'll get your first-choice date. Your student will also get the first pick at classes for the next year.
- Manage logistics
Help your student get ready for orientation by managing logistics for the day. How will you be getting there? Is lunch included? Do you need to book overnight accommodations?
Taking care of the logistics means your student can focus on what's really important - getting ready for college.
- Help your student prepare
Your student may feel a bit nervous leading up to college orientation. Help them prepare so they feel comfortable and confident on college orientation day. You can do this by helping your student brainstorm questions to ask and by talking through their ideal class schedule.
- Pack light
Since you'll be traveling around campus visiting different buildings and dorms, it's a good idea to pack light. Bring a pen and paper for notes, your phone and charger and plenty of water. Most colleges and universities include lunch in the schedule, but it's a good idea to bring light snacks.
- Be their cheerleader
You are your student's biggest supporter, so cheer them on! Remind your student how proud you are of them for taking this leap into adulthood and continuing their education. Encourage them to be their best, authentic self on orientation day.
- On the day, give them space
You and your student will have different events to attend throughout orientation day. This is their chance to bond with new classmates and start making decisions on their own. While you can text and check-in on your student, try not to over communicate.
- Ask the right questions
College orientation is for you too! While you're in parent orientation sessions, make sure to get all your questions answered. If you're not sure where to start, consider these questions:
- What financial resources are available?
- What are tips for moving in?
- What can my student expect out of their major or minor?
- How can I best support my student during college?
- When are academic breaks where my student might come home?
- Check in on resources for your student
College orientation is a great time to check in on the resources available to your student. Is there a health clinic on campus? What mental health resources are available? Is there tutoring or academic advising?
Parent orientation is also a great time to ask about any accommodations your student may need. While your student will likely get this same information, it's a great reminder!
- Leave with contact information
College orientation can be overwhelming, for both you and your student. It's a great idea to get the contact information of an orientation leader or staff member before you leave campus. That way, if you have more questions, you have someone to reach out to.
- Debrief on the way home
Once you're reunited with your student, ask how their day went. It's a great way to connect with your student as they enter this new phase of life.
Central Michigan University's orientation
Orientation is required for all new Central Michigan University students. Orientation dates are held throughout the summer, starting in June. Once your student has been accepted, they can log in to the student portal to see their next steps and register for orientation. The earlier they register, the more date options will be available and the sooner they can choose their class schedule.