It’s that time of the year again, the time of year where the rain and warmth intermingle to create a slightly uncomfortable humidity. High school graduations have come and gone along with trips and vacations, and people are making plans for a big transition in the Fall. The commencement of freshman year seems far away enough not to warrant immediate panic, but still close enough to cause moderate nervousness. What many don’t realize is there is a valuable opportunity to prepare for first-year qualms before the semester even begins: freshman orientation. After having reflected on my own experience with freshman orientation, I have developed a set of recommendations to help make the passage from a high school senior to a rising college freshman a pleasant one.
Recommendation #1: Come Prepared and Come Inquisitive
You have homework this summer, but don’t worry; it’s easy! Assignment: prepare for orientation. I know it sounds like a lot of work coupled with preparing for the upcoming semester, but arriving with a list of questions and goals for the session is imperative to making the shift even smoother. Maybe you are anxious to figure out if there is an organization that embodies your passion for playing the ukulele or maybe you are on a deliberate quest for scholarships, but the only way to find out is to ask! Remember that orientation is a place to teach you things about the university that you plan to attend; everyone in charge is there to teach and guide you.
Recommendation #2: Befriend Someone Who Looks as Lost as You Do.
You may be reading this and thinking, “I already have established friendships, I don’t need to go searching for more.” Touchy subject, eh? However, a lot of times people who are friends in high school do not necessarily attend the same university, which truly accentuates the difference between phone calls and personal company. Another thing to consider is that oftentimes childhood friends naturally grow apart in college. People go to college with intentions of figuring out what they want to do and who they want to be and that requires a lot of growth and change. Striking up a conversation with someone who has chosen a similar major could be the beginning of a lifelong friendship or at least a study buddy for the tough classes. Don’t be shy; everyone at orientation is just as awkward, lost or half-asleep as you are.
Recommendation #3: Get to Know Your Advisor…Well!
If your college experience is anything like mine, you will turn to your advisor as if they are the wise and all-knowing Wizard-of-Schedule Planning and Reassurance that You are Making the Right Decisions. Seriously, advisors are wonderful people to develop relationships with. They possess higher knowledge about all things class-related and truly have one ultimate goal: to propel you towards graduation fully prepared. Note: This applies to any session during freshman orientation, but I suggest taking something to write with and on to record the invaluable information that these magic people have to offer.
Recommendation #4: Learn Your Surroundings.
Orientation is a time to learn and absorb as much information as you can remember before school starts. An important (and quite frankly, life-saving) thing to do, is to take a tour of the campus during any allotted free time. I suggest acclimating yourself to the essentials, buildings where you may have classes, food spots, the library, different resource centers, the gym and anything else that you may consider important to your college experience. That way, you aren’t scrambling during your first week of school because you can’t seem to remember where your first class is.
Recommendation #5: Relax!
My last recommendation for orientation is to try your best to relax. Everyone attending orientation is nervous about attending a university for the first time and making new friends. You are not alone. Taking a few deep breaths and thinking of orientation as a “how-to” crash course for college will get you through it and pay off in the long-run. You can thank me later. Welcome to UTSA and Go Roadrunners!