The (Soon-To-Be) College Student’s Guide To Freshman Orientation

The (Soon-To-Be) College Student's Guide To Freshman Orientation - What to expect and how to prepare

So I had freshman orientation a few weeks ago. Because of that, I decided to write a post on what to expect at freshman orientation and how to prepare. I talked to some of my friends who are going to other schools to see what happened at their orientations to make sure this post didn’t only include aspects of one school. I hope this post helps you.


//What To Pack

  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Print outs of:
    • Orientation Sign Up Confirmation
    • Parking Information
    • Information from your transfer school if you know you’re transferring (This applied to me. More on that later)
  • Notebook to take notes
  • Pen and/or pencil
  • Gum (You have to wait a long time for lunch)

//Things to Know

  • Student ID Number
  • Your student email
  • What building you have to go to
  • Major you are currently pursuing or if your undeclared (You will be divided into groups based this)

//Leave Early

We were supposed to check-in between 7:00-7:45 and it takes a while to get to Atlanta. Plus traffic, so I woke up at 5:45 (My alarm was at 6, but I woke up before it) and we left at 6:30. We ended up taking some time looking for our parking deck, so leaving early really saved us some stress.

There was also free breakfast for us when we arrived, so we had time to enjoy it.

Note: If you are taking the subway (or another form of public transportation), make sure to check the schedule to ensure you arrive on time.

//Upon Arrival//

//When You Enter The Building

Once you find the building orientation will be held, there will be a peppy student leader who greets you and he or she will point you to where you check in.


There will be lines divided by the letters of your last name. When you get to the front, you’ll tell the person your name and they’ll give you your name tag, a bag with your school logo containing random knick-knacks and an information packet or booklet you’ll need.

The booklet or packet you receive will have important information such as your schedule for the day, your core classes, etc. It’ll be your bible for that day.


After check-in, you will eat breakfast and sit around until you are called into whatever auditorium the orientation will be held. Once you are inside and seated, someone will talk and make those ice-breaker jokes about how early it is and how bad the traffic was (One of these comments will be made, I guarantee you), plus those comments to your parents about their crazy college days.

There will be an intro video where the president of the university talks and introduces himself and welcomes the class of _____. Then the video will do all that ho-hum welcoming stuff.

Then all the student orientation leaders will come in yelling a chant or singing a song.

Pro-Tip: Don’t sit in the front unless you want to be yelled in the ear. My dad and I learned the hard way.

The orientation leaders will introduce themselves then there’ll probably be a video shown of them dancing to some currently popular song.

Just like high school.

Random Story That Has Nothing To Do With This: So I'm in the middle of writing this post and I go to the kitchen to grab a cookie. We installed a new chandellier a few days ago and it't a lot lower than the old one (You get where I'm going with this.). So I banged my head on it really hard and now I have a headache. The End. Now back to our scheduled programming.

//You Are Divided Into Groups (Separate From Your Parents)

After the introduction, you will be divided into groups and assigned to a student orientation leader. You won’t be with your parents. They have a separate schedule from you.

(So my dad didn’t actually want to come. My mom made him)

Your groups will probably consist of a dozen people. For my orientation, we went on a campus tour while the parents listened to another speaker, so I’ll write about that next.

//Campus Tours//

The Campus Tour is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t write much. Something you should know is that the tour isn’t as elaborate as you’d think. The student orientation leader will mostly point out buildings where classes are. They’ll focus more on places you’ll spend outside of class like the recreation center, places with free tutoring, the gym, etc.

Here are some things the tour guide will show you:

  • Point Out The Academic Building
  • Career Center
  • Tell You About All The Free Stuff You Get
  • Study Areas and Help Centers
  • Note: They Don’t Show You Everything

//Things They Talk About//

So after the tour, you will go to a room and listen to a bunch of speakers talk about different aspects of the school. Here are a few examples of seminars you’ll attend.


Safety is a big issue on college campuses these days, so there will be a huge information meeting and Q&A on this.

A Policeman or woman will come and speak about security measures on campus, ways to stay safe, how call buttons work, etc.

Mini Rant 1: I know your not supposed to talk about controversial stuff when you want a professional looking blog, but may I just say I find it funny that pepper spray is illegal in Georgia, but guns aren't. Like its better to kill someone rather than temporarily blind them. (I'm not for pepper spray, either, but you get the picture)
Mini Rant 2:So the policewoman asked us if we know what generation we were in, and a bunch of us said Gen Z, but the lady said, "That's right! Your millenials." And she kept referring to us as millenials the ENTIRE TIME. I kept wanting to raise my hand to correct her because it was getting a bit annoying. Gen Z is the generation after the millenials. All the students in that room were born between 1995 and 2015, which means we're Gen Z. I could tell who the smart people in the room were because every time the police woman referred to us as millenials, they looked around and muttered to see if anybody noticed her mistake. (I was one of them). Okay. Rant over.

//Information About Living On Campus

In this meeting, there will be information about roommate contracts, communal bathrooms, how many overnight guests you are allowed to have, move in day, etc.

Related: The Ultimate College Packing List

//Information for Commuters

The speaker talks about commuter meal plans, how the train system works, how much parking passes cost, etc. They also discuss the rights you have as a student even though you still live with your parents. Your parents don’t have access to your grades and can’t ask professors about you. You have to sign papers to give them permission to see that stuff.

They also talk about the problem of students being homeless in college. This is more common than you think. My AP Econ teacher from high school was homeless in college at one point.

//Discuss Academics + Q&A With Professors

There will be some professors at this meeting. They will talk about academics, being productive in college, how tests and grading works…

One of the greatest advice they gave was that talking to professors outside of class is key. Going to office hours just to discuss your interest in a topic  of discussion will make a huge difference.

Classes are just as much about networking as it is about getting thee credits.


I’ll be honest. I zoned out during this portion. The coach of some team will come and tell you about how awesome their sports team is. You also get a schedule of the football games.

You will also probably get information on the Freshman welcome at the first football game, where all the Freshmen get to run onto the field at the first game. Many colleges are doing this now-a-days. Though it may just be a southern thing.

//They Will Tell You To Like Your College On Social Media. A LOT

They do this over and over again. They also use twitter hashtags to pick who wins t-shirts, magnets, umbrellas… with your school’s logo on it. (It’s amazing how much stuff your college monograms and gives away for free. Though I guess it’s not free considering that you’re paying tuition. But I digress. )

Freshman Orientation

//Paperwork and Other Important Stuff//

//Financial Aid

You (and your parent, if they’re with you) can meet a financial aid advisor and talk to them about paying for college. You’ll also fill out paperwork.

//Meet your advisor

So you will be divided into groups based on your intended majors. Don’t worry, if you are undeclared. There is an advisor for you too.

I’m a psychology major, so I went on with my group. That group was divided into two groups as well. Psychology of Science, which is lab based, and Psychology of Arts, medical based.

Because I want to work with special needs kids, I was with the advisor for Psychology of the Arts.

The advisor talked to us about the core classes we’d have to take, how high our level of math had to be, psychology electives, etc.

//Register for Classes

For Freshmen, this is pretty easy because there are core classes you have to take. You will literally be given a paper with pre-made schedules that you choose from. (You can change a few things around)

Don’t worry if you have a late orientation date. Colleges block off classes to make sure there are still good class times for Freshmen who register late.

My situation was different.

See, I’m transferring next year. Not “I’m planning on applying again.” I’m already getting IN the school (Unless I fail epically this year, which I doubt will happen, but let’s not jinx it). I’ll explain why I’m at this school right now in another post. But I have different classes I am recommended to take next year. I also have a lot of credits

But I have different classes I am recommended to take next year. I also have a lot of credits from high school that take care of my core classes.

I had to go to another person and fill out a different form, show all the AP credits I had, show information from another college… the list goes on.

I haven’t sorted everything out yet, but basically I had a lot more trouble registering for classes than most, but it’ll be a lot easier for you.

This is why I recommended printing your information at the beginning. It helped me a ton and will help you too.

Note that you will probably have to do the same thing I did if you had dual enrollment or took a massive amount AP/IB classes in high school.

//Get Your Student ID

You’ll be sent to an office. You have to tell them your student ID number and a form of identification like your license. If you don’t know it like I didn’t at the time, your student email will suffice.

They will then proceed to sit you down, then take your picture without giving you time to get ready or smile (Mine turned out fine, but you could tell I’m dead tired from the long day. I was smiling, but the flash freaked me out.)

They’ll give you your ID card less than a minute later.


  • Making Friends – Or at least acquaintances. There will be times during the program where you get to socialize. I was pretty bad at this. I mostly just sat to the side and read the information packet.
  • Don’t Just Stick With People You Know– If you are going to schoo in-state, there will be at least one person you know at orientation. I’m going to school in Atlanta, and there are a bunch of big schools here, so I’m bound to run into someone from high school on the train (which is saying something considering our graduating class consisted of less than 200 people). Meeting new people is part of the experience. Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Lunch Time – Just sit with someone and talk to them. You’ll be surprised how many lifelong friends you can make that way. I certainly have.
  • “Get To Know You” Games – There will be a bunch of these on orientation day. This is how I made my first friend (the second was when a girl came and sat with us at lunch). Make sure to participate! They’re fun and you can win prizes.

Two friends is not bad. I like having a few closer friends rather than a bunch of “meh” friends.

//Overnight Orientation//

So I didn’t go to overnight orientation, but this is the information that I got from others and my college.

//Same Things As Before

You’ll do the same things and discuss the same topics during overnight orientation, but it’ll be more detailed.

//More Ice-breaker games

There’ll be many more fun games and meals to meet people and get to know them. This is the fun part about orientation, so take advantage of it. Enjoy making friends and not talking about the stresses of homework and test while you can. You have the next four years for that.

Related: 25 Things To Do The Summer Before College

Don’t expect orientation friends to stay forever. You may end up having different majors and take different classes. You many never see them again, who knows.

//Create Your Academic Plan

The difference between “Overnight” and “One-Day” Orientation is that before you register for classes at “Overnight,” you make an academic plan for your next four years based on your goal right now.

All schools may not do this, I just know that mine does.

//Placement Tests

The good thing about Overnight Orientation is that you get a lot of stuff over with, including placement tests. If you register for them on time, you can do orientation and required tests on the same day.

(I’m taking my math placement test the ONE week I’m actually in Georgia this month)

I hope this post helps you get ready and feel prepared for freshman orientation. Just a random note.

This is a pre-written post. I am currently in a 15-seater van with my family on the way to Florida to see more family and go to Disney World. Expect blog posts and pics on social media soon.

Related: Places I’m Going This Month


Have you been to orientation yet? What was your favorite part? If not, what are you most excited about? Are you currently on a trip, like me?

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4 thoughts on “The (Soon-To-Be) College Student’s Guide To Freshman Orientation

  1. This was extremely helpful to read! I will definitely be looking back on this before I go to Orientation Day! Thank you!

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