Discover is no longer accepting new student loan applications.
Applications received on or before January 31, 2024, 11:59 pm CT will be processed as usual.

Discover Student Loans
Discover Student Loans

check mark   Article highlights

  • At freshman orientation, you can expect campus tours, information sessions, opportunities to connect with other incoming freshmen, and the ability to sign up for classes.
  • Freshman orientation may be mandatory. Even if it isn’t, it’s a great way to begin your college career and button up any loose ends for enrollment.
  • It’s also a chance to explore campus resources and check out the local community.

If you’re an incoming college freshman, you’ve probably got a lot on your to-do list. That includes signing up for classes, making friends, and getting acquainted with your new school. That’s where freshman orientation comes in. It’s designed to help new college students make a smooth transition.

During this time, students are guided through the rest of enrollment and given a sneak peek into campus life. Knowing what to expect at freshman orientation can help you get the most out of the experience.

What is freshman orientation?

Freshman orientation is usually held before the start of a new semester. It’s a time for incoming freshmen to get acquainted with the college and prepare for what’s ahead. Colleges generally use freshman orientation to share information about:

  • Financial aid
  • School rules and policies
  • Campus organizations and resources
  • Academic expectations
  • Class registration
  • Social activities for new students

Is freshman orientation mandatory?

It depends on the school. Some colleges won’t allow you to register for classes until you’ve completed orientation and opting out could create a delay in your enrollment. Most colleges provide multiple orientation dates to choose from, but registration may be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Even if it isn’t mandatory, freshman orientation can be a great way to get your ducks in a row before your first day of college. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do every recommended activity at orientation. The most important thing is taking care of the logistics, like buttoning up your enrollment. Your college may have certain parts of orientation that are required. Beyond that, you can pick and choose the events and activities that feel most relevant to you.

How to prepare for freshman orientation

Taking the following steps can make for a smoother freshman orientation:

  • Sign up for an orientation date sooner rather than later. They may fill up quickly. Signing up early can allow you to lock in a date that works best for your schedule.
  • Be on the lookout for communications from your school. You may receive a detailed list of action items you need to complete before freshman orientation. If not, contact your school to see if there’s anything you need to do. For example, some schools may require students to complete academic placement tests before orientation.
  • Review the course catalog. If you’ll be selecting your courses during orientation, it’s helpful to review the course catalog beforehand to get familiar with your options.
  • Figure out what to bring. That includes a photo ID, notepad, and something to write with. Your school might also recommend bringing a laptop to make it easier to register for courses. One other thing—wear comfortable shoes and clothing as you’ll probably do a good bit of walking.

5 Things to do at freshman orientation

1. Sign up for classes

This is a central part of freshman orientation for many schools. Expect to be guided through the registration process and paired with an academic advisor. They can provide information about different academic majors and minors available to you. Your advisor can also help you create your class schedule and answer any questions you may have.

2. Take a campus tour

Freshman orientation is a good time to learn your way around campus. Your orientation leaders, who will likely be undergraduate students, should take you on a tour. This will probably be more in depth than a general admissions tour. Freshman orientation also provides an opportunity for self-guided exploration. Keep an eye out for student resources important to you like the gym, library, health center, student union, and more. You might also get a glimpse at student organizations that may be active during your tour.

3. Connect with other incoming freshman

If you’re moving away for school, freshman orientation could be a great opportunity to make friends. Most schools arrange social events during orientation so attendees can get to know each other. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Exchanging contact information and social media handles can keep you connected before school starts.

4. Complete your enrollment

During freshman orientation, you’ll probably set up your student account, get your school email address, and register for any web-based systems your college uses, if you haven’t already done so. You’ll likely get your student ID as well. By the time freshman orientation ends, your enrollment should be complete.

5. Check out the local community

If you’re able to venture off campus, consider checking out the community and seeing what the town has to offer. Look at it as a chance to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and learn where things are. Going with other students from your orientation group could provide a built-in opportunity to make friends.

How helpful was this content?