This past week I attended freshman orientation for my university. So, I thought I would share some tips to help get you through as well as a few of my own personal experiences. Many of the rest of you who recently graduated high school and decided to further their education at a college or university will most likely have to attend a new student orientation to get them better introduced to the school they will be calling home for the next X amount of years. I am attending (what I think to be) the best school in the SEC. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time on campus before orientation and never actually went on an official visit. But all I can say is the more time I spent on campus, the more I loved it and didn’t want to leave! It lasted for two days and we spent the night in one of the dorm buildings. Here is a brief overview of what we did: welcome lecture about tradition and life on campus, break off into small groups for lunch, another welcome lecture about success in school, visiting our departmental colleges, breakout sessions, questions on the quad in our small groups, dinner, skits and small groups, hanging out at the recreation center. The next day looked something like this: breakfast, another welcome lecture about initiatives, resource fair/picking up student IDs, lunch, advisement, register for classes. It was a pretty jam packed two days (three if you count the fact I had to head there a day early to take placement exams to help determine my classes).
There are a few things that I wish I had known beforehand though.
– Being summer, it is HOT outside (especially in the south)! Everyone always says to look cute and wear little dresses and skirts with your hair and makeup all done up to create a good first impression. However, although you do want to look a little bit dressed up, you also want to dress cool and comfortable. That means you might not want to wear heels since you’ll be walking all day. And if you want to wear that super cute patterned skirt you just bought, stop for a second and think if youd be comfortable enough to run around in it all day and sit on the ground in it. A lot of the girls I met and myself all wished we had worn shorts and a tank top instead of dresses and skirts that first day. You can bet the second day we were all in tshirts and norts.
– Don’t be afraid to be awkward or talk to people. I know it is extremely uncomfortable sometimes to just walk up to a random person, introduce yourself, and ask them what their major it but believe me, you’ll wish you had. Everyone is feeling awkward because no one knows one another. Yes, some people go with friends or have friends there but don’t let that stop you from striking up and conversation with one of them. After the first 100+ times of hearing the same questions (name? where are you from? major? are you rushing? etc. . .) try asking a fun random question to actually get to know them like “what’s your favorite restaurant?” or “what’s your favorite movie that you’ve seen within the last year?”. People appreciate getting to have an actual conversation and not having to repeat the same things over again like an automaton.
– Put your phone away! To avoid any sort of situation we don’t like or find uncomfortable, we immediately pull out our phones to make ourselves appear busy or to kill time. However, it could also be getting in the way of you going out there and meeting new people and trying new things. Getting out your phone makes you look disinterested and closed off. Try putting the phone down for a little bit and talking to someone new. Who knows, maybe you could make a few new friends (and future followers) instead of just another like on your instagram photo.
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your academic advisors or orientation leaders. They are there to help you and answer your questions. Not only are they willing, but they actually want to help you in any way that they can. Struggle with finding a good class schedule? Ask them what types of classes they suggest for your first semester. Don’t know what places off campus your student ID is good for? Ask your group leader. They’re most likely current students and know of all the best places off campus to get student discounts.
– Have fun with it! Things are only as good as you make them, so enjoy your time learning more and meeting new people. You are about to start this amazing new chapter of your life for the next 4 years. Take every opportunity and if you want to try something, go for it!