Going to a college orientation? Don’t forget these essentials

The summer before college places students at an awkward crossroads between no longer being a high school student, but not exactly being a college student either. However, if you are entering college this fall, you will have the opportunity to get a taste of the undergraduate experience by attending a college orientation, where you will be introduced to the essentials of what to expect during your first year of college. While each orientation varies by the university and program you enter, there are essentials you want to come prepared with, so you can make the most out of your orientation. When you are putting together your packing list, don’t forget these 15  essentials!

1. Water bottle

Although this might seem like a given, it’s summer. Be cautious of your own health needs. During my orientation, there were several aspects held outside, and in the Riverside heat, it was much more enjoyable to have water nearby. Nothing ruins an orientation like passing out or facing heat exhaustion, so be prepared and practice a sustainable lifestyle by getting a reusable water bottle to tow around during your orientation.

2. Camera

You’re going to meet a lot of new people during your orientation, and the best way to capture your first moments of college is through pictures to look back on four years later. If you have a Polaroid camera, even better, but be prepared for people wanting to use your film for their own special moments.

3. Questions

During your orientation, you will be given the opportunity to meet with various academic advisors, school leaders, on-campus organizations and fellow students who will provide necessary information about the college experience. Be prepared by creating a list of questions about your major, activities you want to join, and possible internship or job opportunities you may want to pursue. You want to make every minute count at your orientation.

4. Your smile

I can’t speak for all orientations, but during the UC Riverside orientation, we took our school ID pictures. Come prepared by bringing what makes you feel good in pictures – whether its makeup, a comb, or just your plain pearly whites. Your ID is something that you will use constantly throughout your time at a university, so you want to make sure your picture is something that leaves you feeling confident.

5. Comfortable clothing

You’re going to be walking around and exploring the campus quite a bit, so make sure you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable to take on the day. Most orientations are fairly casual, so shorts and t-shirts will suffice. Wear what makes you feel like the Sasha Fierce you already are.

6. Toothbrush and toothpaste

This might not seem groundbreaking, but you’re going to be talking to a lot of people during your orientation. Networking tip: you want to have fresh breath before talking to who may become your new college BFFs.

7. An open mind

Coming to college, you’re going to be introduced to a plethora of differing values, attitudes and backgrounds. You can respond to these changes in one of two ways: you could either a) be open to the change and grow as a global citizen, or b) ignore it completely, and allow your heart to become hardened by the newness of it all. The former is much better than the latter, as keeping an open mind allows you to learn about new ways of life that you may have never been introduced to.

8. A notebook

During your orientation, you’re going to receive quite a bit of information. Be ready to take notes that will help you transition to college by bringing a notebook and pen. You don’t need to take intensive notes, but it’s important to know when the important deadlines, key notes from motivational speeches, and when your future club meetings will be.

9. Souvenir money

Most colleges and universities have a campus store where you can purchase your school pride merchandise! Whether it’s a t-shirt donning your university’s name or a lanyard to hold the keys to your future dorm room, you might want to take some extra money to stock up on gear before the year begins. Most shirts tend to be between $15-20. Pro-tip: if your university has a downtown area nearby or a shopping area that has a campus store, try going there instead. The prices tend to be significantly less money.

10. Any required documents from your university

When you register for your orientation, typically the college will let you know if you need to bring any high school transcripts, immunization records, or any other legal documents that will help the registration process. Don’t forget these, as it will make your orientation process a lot smoother.

11. Sunscreen

Again, it’s summer. If you’re going to school in Southern California (where it gets painfully hot during the summers), you want to stay prepared against skin cancer and sunburns. Being bright red because you forgot sunburn is not fun.

12. Phone charger

You want to be able to take down the phone numbers of all your new friends, so make sure you bring your phone charger to orientations so you’re prepared!

13. Snacks

Usually I am a proponent of dining hall food, but to be honest, you can never quite tell what your experience will be like or whether or not you will like the food offered. To combat this, bring a few snacks to keep you going so your stomach is not growling the entire weekend.

14. Respect

Nothing is more frustrating when presenters are trying to provide meaningful information about what first years need to know, only to see a bored and disengaged audience. Keep the feelings of the presenters in mind by being respectful during the orientation sessions, regardless of whether or not they bore you to tears.

15. Your personality

I wish someone told me during my college orientation that I am okay as I am, and that people will want to be my friend if I would just be myself. During the first weeks of college, I put up a facade and found my identity by becoming polarized with how everyone else thought. I wasted a lot of time, energy and relationships trying to be someone I’m not, and the minute I stayed true to myself, I met the most incredible people. Be you, and watch everything else fall into place.

What are you looking forward to during your orientation? Let us know in the comments below!

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