Incoming college freshmen, you’re getting close to what we hope are your most amazing years so far, and they begin with what can be the best weekend yet: freshman orientation!
My college orientation was a whirlwind of fantastic memories, free ice cream, and super-excited tour guides. Now, as an orientation leader (OL) for my university, it’s become my goal to pass on that awesome experience to others.
With no further ado, here are five simple steps to make your freshman orientation (or transfer orientation, for that matter) the best ever!
1. Get excited!
Most likely, this is your first real event as a member of the freshman class (#2020, anyone?), so get excited! You’re starting off the next big chapter of your life, with all the awesome things it involves—independence, friendship, and, yes, free ice cream. It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t forget about all of the fun things in store for you.
2. Don’t be afraid to have fun
Your orientation planners, guides, and leaders have one single goal: to make your experience as fun as possible. That means we plan a bunch of mixer activities, ice breakers, and cheers that may seem a little…well…lame! However, I can promise you that the coolest college students are the ones who aren’t afraid to have fun and be a little silly. Try to jump into the activities and laugh at yourself if necessary; you may make some lifelong friends in the process!
3. Stay on track
As decades of road trip movies have taught us, sometimes you need to get lost to discover yourself. However, this isn’t always true for freshman orientation! If you need to stick to a schedule, have it on you at all times, and remember who your leader is for each activity. Also, make sure that your phone is charged and you have a back-up charger if possible—you don’t want to end up without a handy GPS or a way to call for someone to pick you up if you need it.
4. Just say “hi”
Orientation is a great opportunity to make friends, since everyone around you is just as new to this whole college thing as you are. Step out of your comfort zone and say “hi” to those around you! If you’re nervous, start with one of these all-purpose openers:
- I love your [hair, t-shirt, cat earrings, limited edition Star Wars travel mug].
- Have you been to this campus spot before?
- Do you have a major picked out?
- What high school are you from?
Trust me, it works! I met my best friend at orientation, and we’re actually working as orientation leaders together this summer. Worried that you won’t be able to find people with similar interests? Well, my aforementioned best friend shares my affinity for old books and hip-hop musicals about the founding fathers, so never say never!
5. Take advantage of the events and resources
Does your freshman orientation include meeting with the Deans? Departmental tours? Free magician show and bouncy houses? These events are all for you, so don’t miss out on them (especially any involving free food…). If you have assigned leaders and tour guides, ask questions about university life and see if you can get their social media handles; most orientation leaders love to connect with new students, and they can be a great resource during your first weeks at school. There may also be a college extracurricular fair or meetings about on-campus opportunities such as study abroad or career services. You will probably have a bag full of brochures and swag when you head home, so embrace a little clutter!
Have a positive attitude
Okay, I will be completely honest with you: even when you follow these steps, there may be some things you can’t control. It may rain, or you may get lost, or you might sleep through your alarm. It’s okay; life happens. No matter what, try to keep a positive attitude, and do what you can to see the good in every situation. Freshman orientation is your chance to really kick off your college experience, and you want to start strong!
College is almost here, friends! Enjoy your months of summer vacation, and get ready for the best weekend of your life.