Sending a child to college is much like when you watched them take their first steps. You held their hand, but eventually, you let go with excitement and worry that they might fall. If they succeed, you applaud and congratulate. If they fail, you provide encouragement, comfort, and you help them stand back up and walk. You don’t continue to carry them because you know eventually they are going to walk on their own, and the same goes for college.
In order to make sure students and parents get the most from college orientation, parents should anticipate taking a back seat in the process and allow students to take charge. Often times, students and parents are separated during orientation to learn about expectations and how to transition smoothly from high school to college.
During a typical college orientation, you will tour the campus and residence halls, view panel discussions on academic and student life, have small group sessions on topics like financial aid and study abroad, and attend receptions and social events. For many students, it’s a great chance to meet new classmates and become acquainted with the campus. For many parents, it’s a great time to see textbook options, residence hall life, and information your student will need down the road. Take a look around the community to find coffee houses, bakeries, and restaurants. Your student will probably look forward to mail from you with gift cards to local eateries attached. You can also find hotels in the area for your visits and measure the dorm rooms and see what you will need on move-in day.
If possible, get as many logistics handled as possible during orientation. These include items like student ID cards, creating school email and usernames, registering for classes, and setting up new bank accounts in the area. The first couple of weeks can be overwhelming, so it’s best to have as much done before school starts as possible.
Remember, during orientation, EVERYONE is the new person. If your student is feeling shy or not sure of how to approach people, just have them keep in mind, the other students probably feel the same way.
For more resources, contact your college admissions office. They will be able to guide you to resources and let you know what to expect on orientation day, as well as college.