Apartment Living BlogOff-campus Living › What To Expect At College Orientation

College orientation is a way to prepare for transitioning from a high school student to a college student. Orientation is typically a mandatory thing for incoming college students, both transfer and freshman. Registration for orientation is typically first-come, first-serve. Make sure to book your reservation early! Orientation typically occurs during the summer, and is great way to familiarize yourself with the campus, services, classrooms, dorm rooms and more. So here are some things you should expect during your first college orientation!

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What to bring

Make sure to not overly pack, but still bring the necessities! One thing you don’t want to forget is comfortable shoes, whether that is your Converse, Nike’s, or even Birkenstocks. You are going to do a lot of standing and walking around campus. Be sure to check the weather forecast in advance, in the chance of rain, and in that case make sure to have your rain jacket or umbrella. Make sure to also bring your government ID and your school ID number, just in case they create your student ID cards during orientation. You will also want to bring a notebook, pen, and folder to take notes and collect paperwork. Carry a large purse or backpack, so you won’t have to carry around all your new school stuff in your hands.

Food is provided

You are provided food during your orientation, so don’t start freaking out about packing snacks! Once you check in, you will have a breakfast. Throughout the day there will be allotted time for lunch and snacks. If you have a two-day orientation, you may have dinner available to you too. During these breaks, you can meet back up with your family member or guests to sit down, eat, and chat!

Parent orientation

Depending on the school, they may require parents to attend orientation with you. For some students, parents continue to play a huge role in their young adult life. During orientation, the parents will part ways and go to their own seminars, instructed by the school’s staff members. They will learn about how the billing system works, financial aid options, meal plans, and the health/safety resources on campus. This is the parent’s chance to ask any questions they may have and sign up to get connected with campus alerts! Parents will typically have a separate schedule from students, but will meet up again for food and breaks.  

Campus tour

Students and even parents will be toured around the campus to get an idea of where everything is located. This is a great way for students to familiarize where everything is, so they aren’t completely lost when the arrive in August to help you move in. You will be shown where dorms, cafeterias, education buildings, and even emergency stations are located on campus.

Be ready to take your ID picture  

At some point in the orientation, you will be required to take a picture for you student ID card. You will need your ID card for many things, for instance getting into your dorm room and swiping to get food at the cafeteria! You may even be able to use your student ID to get discounts at nearby stores. So make sure you wear something nice and remember to smile!


Be prepared to sit through multiple presentations. You are going to introduced to a lot of new stuff like campus amenities, safety, policies, your intended major, and even your future classes. This gives you the chance to meet with university advisors/ staff members to answer an questions you may have. Plan ahead and make sure to have a notebook, pen, and folder to take notes during the presentations and collect any papers handed to you. These presentations are very informative; make sure to pay attention! Don’t be scared to ask questions, chances are someone else has the same question and would also like to know the answer.


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Creating your class schedule

This will probably be the most nerve-racking thing you will do; if they allow you to register at orientation. After learning the different class options, they will bring you into a computer lab to register for your classes. Everyone is registering for the best classes all at once. There will be mentors walking around to assist you, so don’t feel completely helpless. If you’re an incoming freshman, you most likely are getting last pick of the classes and many of them might already be full. So make sure to take your time and try to find the best possible schedule for you. If you already have an idea of your major, maybe sign up for some intro classes for your major. If not, don’t worry, you can still sign up for the general education classes that you need. Do your research before coming to orientation. You can get a good idea of the classes you need by looking at the university’s course catalog. If you take random classes that don’t apply to your degree, then you could be wasting your time and money. Listen to the advice the mentors are giving you, but use your best judgement when registering.   

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Sleep over?

If it’s a weekend-long orientation, some schools may require you to sleep on campus in a dorm room. It is typically a two day process where the orientation is split into two days and you sleep overnight on the first day. Parents sleep in one dorm hall and students in a different one. Of course the parents stay in the nicest dorm rooms they have, to leave a good impression. They do this, so students get a good idea of what to expect their freshman year in the dorm halls. So, if you are scheduled for a weekend-long orientation, make sure to prepare by bring extra clothes and the necessary toiletries.

Make friends

Overall, orientation is a great way to prepare students before coming into college. Use it to your advantage and try not to dread it. It is a great way to not only gain insightful information, but it’s a way to start meeting new friends on campus. In most orientations, you will split off into groups (usually by major) and do different activities/games. Everyone is in the same boat as you, so don’t feel completely awkward. You will play different icebreaker games and have the opportunity to connect with other students. You will also have the chance to look at different clubs and activities available on campus. If you’re feeling nervous, just remember everyone has to do it and make sure you make the most of it!

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Hi! My name is Christie, and I’m the social media content intern at ForRent.com. I have lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia for all of my life and I am currently a senior in college. I am a business marketing major at Old Dominion University and I can’t wait to see what the future holds after I graduate! I love spending time with my family and enjoy shopping whenever I can!

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