College orientation is one of your first tastes of life at the college you’ve chosen to spend the next four years of your life at. No pressure… right? Don’t worry orientation is always fun, but it can also be stressful. I mean, you’re where you’ll live for the next four years, meeting more people than you can imagine which you’ll be surrounded by for the next few years, while also trying to put forth a great image for yourself.
Stressed? Great. Turn the stress into positive energy and enthusiasm! I’ve been through orientation, and live to tell the tale, and specifically now give you some tips on how to survive the whirlwind that is orientation. These tips are sure to help you tackle the big day/week with your head held high and a smile on your face.
#1. Ask All of The Questions
During orientation there are a lot of people who genuinely want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask questions! I remember during orientation all of us freshman were asking so many questions about everything to whatever orientation leader was nearby. Plus, be sure to actually write down your OL’s (Orientation Leader) e-mail or friend them on Facebook, they’re a great person to go back to for advice throughout your college years.
If orientation is during spring/summer before the fall semester, it’s great to reach out to your OL on what to pack for college or which dorm is closest to the library. If it’s the week before the fall semester begins, ask them about your professors and ask if they can show you where your class halls are. My OL took us on a class hall tour during some of our free time during orientation. Also, don’t worry about being “too annoying”, your OL’s job is to answer your questions and provide you with guidance to help you transition to college.
#2. Take Notes
Granted, there likely won’t be too much to take notes on because you’ll get a ton of info packets, take note of what others are saying. You can do this subtly on your phone. If your OL mentions a club you want to remember to check out in the fall or a local pizza place that amazing, write it down! If they mention any important tips or places you want to be sure to remember, be sure to jot them down in a note on your phone.
Speaking of important tips, here are some tips on preparing for your first year of college!
#3. Network a Little
This is by no means a business event, but it is an incredibly social one. You will meet more people during orientation than you ever have before. Plus, the people you meet are the ones you’ll be spending the next four years together, so it’s definitely beneficial to make connections. Strike up some conversations, follow each other on whatever social media you want, swap numbers, something. While you may never message them or even use their number, it’s definitely useful. If you meet someone who’s close to your hometown, arranging to meet up over the summer is a great idea. The truth is, everyone is just as nervous as you are. Even if you’re a bit of an introvert, make a point to turn on the socialite charm for the day.
Everyone will be relieved by someone making the first move to strike a conversation. I met a few of my best friends at Orientation because we ended up running into each other at other campus events and remembered hanging out during orientation.
#4. Make a Lot of Small Talk Using Common Ground
This is closely tied to networking. Keep in mind you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who are the same age and going to the same college, there is so much to talk about. Even with a ton of topics, some people are like talking to a wall and it’s fine – move on and talk to someone else if you can’t crack their shell. Here are some topic suggestions to keep in the back of your mind when you’re not sure what to talk about:
Prom – It probably happened or will be happening soon before or after orientation. Talk dresses, after prom, etc.
Why did you choose this college – Are your parent’s alumni? Is it near your house?
Dorms – Which one do you want to live/are you living in? If it has community bathrooms – do you think the showers will be gross?
The weird orientation games – You’ll see what I mean.
Majors/Where people are from – By the end of orientation you’ll be able to say your name, major, and hometown so easily. These can be dead-end if you let them be! Be sure to follow-up with questions like, “Oh, what made you choose engineering?” or “Oh, no way! Have you ever been to this amazing bakery in the town over?”
Favorite TV Shows – These are great to talk about! Everyone watches some, unless of course, they have no TV, in which case, that’s a conversation in and of itself.
These are the topics that I found myself most often discussed during orientation. Be sure, to be honest, and real. Bonus tip: saying or having something memorable always works in your favor. I was recognized for my beaded Panama bracelet because it was unique. It’s easier to be remembered if you have something to be remembered for whether it be the girl who’s a triplet or the girl who watches all of the same shows as you, etc. This can be used to strike up a convo later on down the line.
#6. Make Rounds
Please avoid sticking to the same 1-2 people the entire time. It’s nice to find someone cool and stick with them, but make sure you also talk to many other people – you’ll have even more familiar faces around campus and in class. While making rounds, this also means get a good feel for your campus. Become at least somewhat familiar with the campus itself while you’re on it.
#7. Take Advantage of the Freebies
There’s always a free t-shirt. Enjoy the free pens, bags, and other school logo covered items. Free stuff is always the best, and you’ll get a lot of it the next four years.
#8. Participate in the Cheesy Games
Yes, you can do so while joking about how ridiculous they are to the people around you. Honestly, the jokes about the games and mutual dislike of them are what generally brings people together, not the game itself. You will be forced to play a lot of “get to know you” games. Just play along with a smile or make some jokes. Don’t roll your eyes at everything and refuse to genuinely participate, it’ll just put out a bad vibe.
#9. Take Pictures
Even if it’s just of you on campus, you’ll definitely want to look back on one of your first official moments of college.
#10. Look Good
Take it from just about everyone in my class when I say, look good. No girl had her hair done or was wearing makeup, and most guys looked like they had barely brushed their hair. The reasoning to look good is to make a good impression, plus depending on your orientation this maybe when you have your ID photos taken.
Your ID photo is with you for four years (unless you lose it or it gets damaged). Also, ladies and gents, keep in mind your necklines/necklaces. One of my friends was wearing a strapless top in her’s and it looks as if she has no top on… classy.
Also, dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot walking and possibly running if your school is anything like mine (we have a glow tour that becomes extremely competitive). Don’t put a lot of effort into your look, but don’t look like you just rolled out of bed. You can’t go wrong with a pair of jeans/shorts, a simple top, and sneakers.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.