Hey, incoming Freshman! Congrats on graduating High School and starting preparations for the next chapter of your life! It’s an exciting time, but it can definitely be scary as well. I remember being very anxious about Freshman Orientation; the time when incoming freshman spend a weekend at their chosen college for a few full days of information and introductions. So to make this event go a little smoother for everyone attending this year, I threw together this ultimate guide to attending Freshman Orientation. It has everything from what to bring to what to expect, as well as some tips I learned from my experience there.
I attended the orientation at SUNY New Paltz, so this article is specifically geared towards that event. That doesn’t mean, however, that some of the contents here can't be applied to other schools’ orientations! So pass this article around to any of your friends who may want a little look into what to expect at their Freshman Orientation this summer.
What to wear:
-Sneakers/ comfortable shoes.
You will be doing A LOT of walking around campus.
-Comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather.
While it may be 90 degrees outside, some of the buildings may have AC and be freezing; so carry a sweatshirt with you throughout the day.
What to bring:
You’ll be busy and active all day, so it’s important to stay hydrated, especially if it’s going to be hot.
‘Cause sun burn and skin cancer suck.
Once again, it will most likely be hot, so girls: bring hair ties!!
This will be nice to have so you can easily carry the papers and free stuff you’re given throughout your days at orientation.
Just in case you want to take any notes on the important stuff being talked about in the lectures!
Always smart to have one just in case the skies open up.
At the New Paltz orientation, each night they had small activities for students to do, some of which gave us the opportunity to go into the town. So if you decide to do this, it’s a good idea to bring some money in case you want to buy some food or a souvenir! It's also very possible that you might get some time to browse around the campus bookstore, which is where all the school apparel is. So if you have some money, you could buy some clothes to rep your school! You will also be purchasing your student ID during these few days, so the school should tell you how much money you need to bring for that.
-Typical overnight stuff.
I.E. sheets, pillow, toiletries, shower stuff, phone charger, hairbrush, etc.
-Anything else your school suggests you bring.
Usually, your school with send you a checklist of things to bring for orientation, so definitely make sure to print that out and follow it.
What to expect:
-To have a lot of information thrown at you (and to not remember any of it when you return home).
-To create your first semester schedule of classes.
-To sign up for your dorm room.
-To get your picture taken for your ID.
-To receive your official student ID.
-Long lines at the dining hall.
-To be extremely overwhelmed at some point.
-To meet a ton of new people.
-To still be lonely sometimes.
-To not meet your new best friend.
-To be constantly doing something all day long.
-To fall in love with the school you’ve chosen!
Tips and tricks:
-Try not to have a negative attitude about things. If you show up to orientation planning to socialize nonstop and do your own thing all over campus and the town, that’s just extremely unrealistic. Although you are there to be social and have fun, you are also there to learn the logistics of the school. So don’t go around all day complaining about going to lectures. You’ll have the next four years to do whatever you want there. A few days of planned activities isn’t gonna kill you.
-Look into some of the classes the school has to offer before going to orientation. You will be signing up for your first semester of classes in a short period of time, so it might be nice to go in with an idea of the things you want to take.
-Also have an idea of what classes you definitely need to take for your major and for graduation. The New Paltz website has a list of all of the general education requirements as well as the required classes for each major. I printed out both of those lists and had them with me at orientation while signing up for classes, so I was able to see exactly what I needed to sign up for (I wanted to get a good chunk of the general education courses out of the way ASAP.)
- It may feel kind of awkward not knowing anyone, but just remember everyone else is in the same boat as you. You will definitely meet a ton of people, especially in your orientation group, but you do not have to be best friends with all of them. And if you do become friends with someone just because you’re all looking for someone to hang with, but realize you don’t really want them as a forever friend, colleges are usually big enough that you never have to see them again when the school year starts if you don’t want to!
-Become well acquainted with your orientation leader. They are students too, but older and with more experience. They are there to help you, so ask them any questions you may have. They will also be your student mentor throughout the rest of your first year at school, so it’s a good idea to form a good relationship with them so you can go to them for anything in the future.
-Don’t stress out too much over choosing a roommate. Some people go into orientation knowing exactly who they’re going to sign up to room with, some meet someone at orientation that they decide to room with, and others never meet that one person they click with, so they sign up for a random room. Any of these situations are totally okay—there’s nothing wrong with any of them. I never found anyone through the Facebook pages or in my orientation group that I clicked with, so I went random. Some schools allow you to take some kind of personality quiz to match you with someone you would get along with, but at New Paltz, you just select a room and anyone else can sign up for it as well. I found this kind of unusual, but I didn’t really have any other choice. This ended up being the best decision I ever made at college, because my random roommate quickly became my best friend! If you go random and have a more difficult experience, you can always switch rooms next semester!
-The dreaded triple nightmare will become a reality. Unfortunately, New Paltz (and many other schools) don’t have enough room to put everyone in double dorm rooms. So, that means many people will be forced to live in a triple room. Freshman, that means you. Don’t panic just yet; not all freshman will be in a forced triple, but a lot of you might. It really depends on how many returning students the school has and how much space is available, but usually they decide who’s in a forced triple by whoever applied to the school after a certain date. So if you applied to the school very early in the process, you might be lucky enough to get into a double, but if you just got your application in before the deadline, chances are you will be in a triple. Once you get to orientation and attend the lecture about housing and signing up for a room, they will tell you that designated date and you can usually check if you applied before or after it in your New Paltz account. I know, this sucks. But it’s not the end of the world. Once the first semester is over, many doubles end up having open spaces because of students graduating, dropping out, moving off campus, or studying abroad. So that being said, almost all of the triple rooms end up being “de-tripled.” So don’t freak out over having to be in a triple. At first it may be wicked annoying and put a damper on what you imagined dorm life would be like, but it’s really not that bad. I was in a forced triple, and I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the room. If you organize it right, everyone will still have plenty of personal space. Like I said earlier, I ended up meeting my best friend through this living situation, and our third roommate moved out after the first semester. So it ended up just being myself and my friend living in a triple room with way more space to spread out. P.S. You’ll also get a reasonable refund check if you’re forced into a triple, so that’s kind of awesome!
-It’s totally okay to be overwhelmed at times. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to about their orientation experience told me that there were times when they were so stressed and overwhelmed that they even cried; myself included. Having that first taste of college life is definitely exciting, but it can be terrifying at the same time. You will have tons of intense information thrown at you and be asked to make some pretty big decisions (like scheduling and rooming,) so it's totally normal to get momentarily stressed out. Just don’t let it discourage you in the long run. You still have a few months before your college career actually begins, so use that time to prepare yourself mentally as well as physically for that big change. Just remind yourself that everything will be fine.
I hope this article helped some of you know what to expect come orientation. It’s definitely scary, but I promise you it will also be fun. The orientation leaders know how strange it will all be for you, so they’ll be trying their best to help you feel comfortable. Overall, you will also learn a lot about your new school and how it functions. Just being on the campus for a long period of time will make you fall in love with the school all over again.
Here is a link to the official website for the SUNY New Paltz Freshman Orientation, where you can find all kinds of resources to prepare for the trip. It really is a good idea to skim through everything on there, just so you don’t miss any important information.
If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns regarding orientation or college in general, leave a comment down bellow and I'll try my best to get back to you!
I hope you all have a blast at orientation and enjoy visiting the school! Can’t wait to see you around campus come Fall. Good luck!