What to Expect from New Student Orientation

What to Expect from New Student Orientation

Over the summer, colleges and universities all over the country are busy welcoming their freshman class to learn about their community, explore campus, and get registered for their first semester of college.

If you're about to embark of your first summer orientation experience, you might be feeling an uneasy mixture of nervousness and excitement. Don’t worry these feelings are totally normal. You are, after all, about to launch your college career.

This week, I sat down with my good friend and college orientation expert,  Marisa Lacey, to discuss all things college orientation. During our conversation we share what to expect as well as our favorite strategies for getting the most value from your orientation experience.

Last year, I worked very closely with Marisa on the development and implementation of my university’s new student orientation programming. Together we created and launched a 3 step orientation program to help our students successfully integrate into our university community. In her role as the Director of Orientation, Marisa has helped hundreds of families with their transition to the college experience. Here are the key highlights from our conversation.

Takeaways from The Episode:

  1. Use orientation as an opportunity to launch you college experience

  2. Treat orientation like a college life test run

  3. Check your college email account and read all materials your school provides including the website

  4. Make sure to collect all important documents into one place. This might include: medical records, transcripts and test scores.

  5. Know how to log-in to all online accounts connected to your college experience: your college/university account, high school account, community college account (if you took dual credit courses), test accounts (IB, AP, SAT, ACT, etc…)

  6. Actively participate during orientation even if you are introverted or shy.

  7. Advocate for yourself and ask your own questions (i.e. take the reins from your parents.)

  8. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy food, stay hydrated, and try to get some sleep (especially ahead of time).

  9. Be flexible about your class times. Freshman schedules are usually based on required courses not schedule preferences. Freshman are not only the last people to register, but freshman level classes usually meet earlier and more frequently than those of upperclassmen to accommodate the transition from high school to college.

  10. Get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable. It’s means you’re growing.

  11. Call and email campus officials back.

  12. Avoid comparing yourself to others. You are the one and only you.

  13. Encourage your parents, guardian, or primary support person to attend the friends and family orientation programming (if offered).

  14. Everyone at orientation is nervous!

Remember every student at orientation is also new to college. Even that one kid who seems like she really has it together. I promise she is also really nervous on the inside.

The best way to cope with your nerves is to make the most of your time by arriving with any necessary tasks completed, participating to the best of your ability, being ready to ask questions (before, during and after orientation), and most importantly being yourself. 

That’s a wrap for Season One!

Thank you so much for listening and supporting the show. Season 2 which will at the beginning of next school year. Be sure to share Collegehood Advice with your friends. We have 30 episodes for them to catch up on before we launch our next season. In the meantime, we’ll be sharing fan favorite episodes all summer long.


More About Marisa Lacey


Marisa has a passion for creating experiences that support people as they transition into, through, and out of university life. In her 12 year career in higher education student affairs, most recently as the Director of Orientation at St. Edward’s University, and 18 years as an Alpha Xi Delta leader and volunteer, she has mentored hundreds of students from a variety of backgrounds have transformative and meaningful collegiate careers.

She has a Master’s in Leadership and Ethics from St. Edward’s University, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology (minoring in Business and Greek Life) from Texas State University.

Marisa is a native Austinite, kitty mom, and amateur paleo chef with a serious love of dance and Justin Timberlake!

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