If your student’s college provides a summer orientation session for incoming students, your student should definitely plan to attend. At many colleges summer orientation is mandatory, and for good reason. Although your student has probably visited the campus during the selection process, perhaps multiple times, this may be your student’s first introduction to the college as an official student. He will look at the school differently, he will be treated differently, and both he and the school may have different expectations than when he visited as an applicant.
This is a “get acquainted” time.
There is a lot of “getting to know you” that happens at a summer orientation session.
- This is the student’s opportunity to get to know the college better. The orientation session may be part of a day, a full day, an overnight, or a several day event. Whatever the format, this is your student’s chance to spend some real time on the campus and become familiar with where things are as well as what it may be like to eat meals in the dining facility and live in the residence halls. When your student comes to school in the fall, he will have a head start in knowing what to expect.
- This is the student’s opportunity to get to know other incoming students. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of orientation to many students is the opportunity to meet other students who will be joining them in the fall. Students meet other students with similar backgrounds or interests. Often close alliances are formed and roommates may even be chosen. Students may build on these friendships on-line for the rest of the summer and arrive in the fall with an entire circle of friends waiting.
- This is the school’s opportunity to get to know your student. One of the important activities that may be included during summer orientation may be some testing to determine appropriate academic placement in classes. Students may take writing assessments, math assessments, computer assessments, language assessments. These will vary by school, but if assessments are necessary, getting them out of the way in the summer, before coming in the fall, will mean one less thing for your student to worry about when he arrives later. It will also assure that he is in the appropriate level of courses.
This is an informational time.
Your student will be given a lot of information at orientation. There may be information about campus safety, computers, campus car policies, meal plans, dorm policies, and academic requirements. The more your student knows about what to expect and/or what he needs to do in the fall, the less he will worry about the unknown. It may seem overwhelming to your student at first, and colleges know that he will not remember every piece of information, but he will remember some important things. He might take some notes, or definitely keep all of the brochures or other pieces of information that he is given in one place so that he can refer to them later.
This is an introduction to the culture of the school.
Your student may be able to tell a lot about the school from his experiences at orientation.
- He will probably have an opportunity to meet and spend time with Orientation Leaders, Residence Assistants and current students. These are usually upperclass students who have been trained to help students make the transition to college. They will be able to answer your student’s questions as well as give him some of the “inside scoop” from a student perspective.
- She may have an opportunity to meet with faculty members, administrators, or advisors. This will give her a sense of the academic culture on campus and what to expect from her classes.
This is a time of beginning the journey.
Your student will probably receive pieces of information which will make her “official”. She may receive an e-mail address if she hasn’t already. She may have her ID photo taken and receive her ID. She may complete her schedule of classes for fall semester. She may be able to complete final financial aid paperwork. She will have the opportunity to get to the bookstore to buy textbooks and appropriate gear with the college name which she will wear proudly when she comes home.
By the time your student leaves campus, she will feel as though she is part of the college community.
Important transitions take place at orientation, whether it is held early in the summer or just prior to the beginning of classes. Although traveling to the school may be difficult if you are at a distance, it is worth the effort if it is at all possible. Some students are reluctant to attend orientation, but it is important that she go if possible. It will make the beginning of the new semester go much more smoothly for everyone.