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What is college orientation and how to prepare for it

College orientation is your introduction to life at university. You'll schedule your classes, meet new classmates, get familiar with campus and visit support offices like advising and counseling.

Some universities require you to attend college orientation. If you're starting classes soon, you might have already signed up. But what is the purpose of college orientation and why is it so important?

Are you a newly admitted student to CMU? Sign in to your portal, make your deposit and sign up for orientation!

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What is college orientation?

Students walking into UC building for orientationCollege orientations can be a single-day event or multi-day visits. Most schools will host their college orientations the summer before you start classes. You can expect a day full of introductions, tours, scheduling and even games. It's all about making your transition to college as smooth as possible.

Sample orientation schedule

  • 8:15 - 9:30 a.m.: check-in, welcome and introduction sessions
  • 9:45 - 11:15 a.m.: meet with professors from your major, tour facilities
  • 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: lunch
  • 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.: meet with your academic advisor and schedule classes
  • 3:30 - 4:20 p.m.: next steps and closing

College orientation's importance

Orientation is all about starting college off on the right foot. Students who had a positive orientation experience are 17% more likely to report a positive overall student life experience in college. It's why orientation might be mandatory for you to attend.

College orientation is also important because it is where you might be signing up for classes. You'll meet with an advisor to talk about your academic goals and what classes you should take to get there.

For your first year, you'll have a mix of introductory courses in your major as well as some more general required classes. If you haven't decided on a major yet, your advisor may recommend some classes for you to explore. If you're transferring, this is a great time to see if you're on track to graduation.

Pro tip: Before heading into orientation think about what schedule might work best for you. Are you a morning person? Be on the lookout for a.m. classes. Have to work in the morning? Try to grab as many afternoon and evening classes as possible.

Orientation is also where you'll meet important people and offices that will help you along the way. You'll meet new friends but you'll also be introduced to advisors, mentors and professors who can help you once you arrive in the fall. You'll also get important information about things like financial aid and move-in schedules and have the chance to ask any burning questions.

Orientation is all about getting prepared for your new life on campus. Make the most of it and you'll be better prepared to hit the ground running once you arrive.

What to ask at your college orientation

Student talks with mentor at orientationTo get the most out of your college orientation, it helps prepare your questions before you arrive. You'll be meeting faculty, staff and even current students. 

Questions for faculty

These will be your future professors so ask questions about your major or minor like:

  • What can I expect out of the program?
  • What requirements are needed to graduate?
  • Is there a capstone project?

Questions for staff

Staff include pretty much anyone on campus not teaching classes. They're there to help you navigate the support services. Try asking:

  • Where can I get help on campus for my physical or mental health?
  • What do I need to know about financial aid?
  • How many classes should I take to graduate in four years?

Questions for current students

Current students are your new peers and experts on campus, ask:

  • Where are the best places to eat?
  • Do you have any tips for moving in?
  • What clubs and activities are fun to join?

Pro tip: Get the contact information of at least one person you meet during the day. You'll be meeting a lot of new people, experiencing a new campus and trying to remember all the great information you get. Having someone you can reach out to after the fact can be very helpful!

College orientation attire

Most orientations are held over the summer months so it's a good idea to wear something that's cool and comfortable. Comfortable shoes are a must. You don't need to wear professional clothing, but you should wear something that is clean and free from holes or profanity. Since you'll probably be spending a fair amount of time outside, be sure to wear sunscreen!

It's a good idea to travel light, since you'll be walking around campus. A pen and paper for questions and contact information, a water bottle and anything else you might need during the day (like medication) is a good idea. Your college orientation will include lunch, but bringing snacks isn't a bad idea either.

Parent and supporter orientation

Over 80% of colleges or universities have some sort of parent, family or guest orientation programs. That means orientation is for your parents and supporters too!

You can expect to split up from your family and supporters for most of the day. While you're scheduling classes and meeting your classmates, your supporters will be in sessions of their own. They'll be getting important information about financial aid and how to best support you during college.

After you day is over, you'll meet back up with your parent or supporter. This is a great time to talk about what you experienced and to make sure you covered everything you needed.

Central Michigan University's orientation

Student orientation guides pose on stageOrientation is required for all new Central Michigan University students. Orientation dates are held throughout the summer, starting in June. Once you've been accepted, log in to your student portal to see your next steps and register for your first-choice orientation date. The earlier you register, the more date options will be available.


Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: New Student Orientation
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