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The Freshman Experience: College Orientation


Editor’s note: This is part two in our series, “The Freshman Experience”, where our very own incoming freshman Sarah has been documenting her experiences navigating her freshman year at Northeastern University in style. In case you missed the first post, see The Freshman Experience: 8 Week Countdown.

Northeastern University

This past weekend, I passed my first of many freshman year milestones: orientation. My excitement had been building for weeks leading up to our trip to Boston: I couldn’t wait to register for classes, finally meet my roommate, make new friends, and see the campus!

Now that I’m back, let me tell you one thing about my orientation experience: it was FABULOUS. Of course, that just makes the 43 days left until I move in seem like an eternity! Is it September yet?

For those of you who haven’t attended your college orientation yet (and even for those of you that just want to take a stroll down memory lane), below I’ll outline the two days I spent on campus. I hope that by giving you a detailed explanation of my experience, you all will appear cool, collected, and confident when you attend orientation for the first time.

NU Orientation Day 1:

What I Wore:

College orientation outfit 1: Gray tank, sandals, leather accessories
Tank / Shorts / Belt / Sandals / Bracelet / Bag

Day 1 Schedule:

On our first day of orientation, we arrived at the school between 7:00 and 7:45 am. After checking in, we attended a continental breakfast before sitting down for the “Welcome to Northeastern University” session. Already split up from our parents, we were thrown into the college atmosphere right away. We spent the rest of the morning in small groups, learning about school spirit, schedules, and the book we have to read before school starts. Our afternoon involved listening to lectures and going on a few tours.

As we got to know one another, all of us soon-to-be freshmen began to feel more comfortable with our surroundings and each other. I was lucky enough to find myself with a group of new friends for the majority of the day. It was so exciting to see our group growing and multiplying as the day wore on!

That evening, there was a dance in the afterHOURS on-campus nightclub, an ice cream social, capture the flag, and a trivia session. Afterwards, we all sat around outside in colorful Adirondack chairs getting to know one another. When I finally made my way to bed at 2:00am, there were still about forty kids sitting and chatting outside on the wiffleball field.

NU Orientation Day 2:

What I Wore:

College orientation outfit 2: Orange tee, cutoff shorts, sandals

/ Shorts / Sandals / Bracelet / Bag

Day 2 Schedule:

Our second day of orientation was a little more slow-paced than the first. We began the morning with breakfast in the dining hall and then attended a session by the University Health and Counseling Services. Following this lengthy lecture, we were able to choose two half-hour sessions to sit through, with options such as Campus Recreation, Choosing a Major, Public Safety, and International Study Programs.

After our lectures, we reported to lunch, where we ate in a classroom with a small group and a student mentor. This was, in my opinion, the most informative hour of our orientation. Our student mentor was a senior who told us about his experiences at Northeastern. He was open to questions and, because there weren’t any faculty members or “adults” in the room, we were able to ask anything. This cleared up many questions we had all been waiting to ask.

After his talk, we got our schedules. It was like middle school all over again; everyone crowded around each other and compared classes. After lunch, we attended another ice cream social (colleges really dig the ice cream, apparently), and then checked out. During check out we had our pictures taken for our student IDs, and finally got our Husky Cards, which we’ll use in the upcoming semester.

Once orientation was complete, it was time to go. Although I was a sad to leave my new friends, my excitement was building: I’d be back – and starting college for real – in just a few short weeks.

Orientation Success Tips:

Now that I’ve survived freshman orientation, I have a few tips for orientation success to share. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be sure to have a fabulous orientation experience yourself.

  • If you are going to school in a different location, research the weather before you go. Being from Minnesota, I thought I was used to extreme temperatures. I was not, however, prepared for the extreme humidity that east coast summers bring. It was hot. Really, really hot. This brings us to my next tip…
  • Bring a fan! Not only was it a balmy 95 degrees outside in Boston, but, as is the case at most colleges in the area, the dorms weren’t air conditioned. If you’re going to a school in the area, bring a small portable fan! If you don’t, you’ll wish you had.
  • Pack light. I managed to fit four days of clothes into one backpack (my dad and I stayed in Boston for two days before orientation), which was quite a feat for me, a chronic over-packer. Packing light is the way to go for college orientation – when you are waiting in line to get your room key, orientation materials, and picture taken, you don’t want to be struggling with a heavy load.
  • Smile! It was amazing how many conversations I was able to start up just by making eye contact and smiling. At orientation, everyone is out of their comfort zone. Be a friendly face and people will immediately be willing to open up!
  • Bring a carryall bag. You don’t want to be known as the girl that spent all of orientation juggling her papers. You’re going to be getting a lot of materials to carry with you, so bring a bag that accommodates folders, pens, pamphlets, etc.
  • Dress in comfortable layers. With all the sitting and standing and moving that goes on at orientation, I was glad I opted for shorts – wearing a skirt would have been a nightmare! I also carried a sweater around with me. Although it was hot outside, most lecture halls were heavily air conditioned.

What I Learned at Orientation:

During orientation, I learned some important lessons about college life.

First of all, I learned that at orientation, everyone is desperate to make friends. With a smile on my face and a confident attitude, I was able to meet tons of people and have a great time.

I also learned that it is easy to find a connection with someone, even if you grew up in vastly different neighborhoods with entirely different childhoods. For instance, I met a guy who had competed with me two years ago at a DECA competition in Louisville, Kentucky! I’m from Minnesota and he was from Massachusetts – both of which are plenty far away from Louisville. It felt so good to find somebody who had been involved in my favorite extra-curricular in high school, and I immediately felt at home.

Finally, this weekend I realized that at orientation, everybody is nervous. Coming to this realization was a relief for me, and it allowed me to calm down and enjoy the experience. Orientation is a new experience for everyone that attends, so relax, open up, and have a wonderful time.

Your turn!

My college orientation was amazing, and I’m excited to hear about yours! Incoming freshman, are you excited for orientation? If you already attended orientation, did you enjoy your orientation experience? Veteran college girls, do you have any tips for freshmen about to attend their orientations? Make sure to leave your thoughts in a comment!

Posted on on July 22, 2011 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , ,

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49 Responses to “The Freshman Experience: College Orientation”

  1. 1
    July 22nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I enjoyed this article so much! I will be a Junior in college this semester and you are right! in everything. I am from Puerto Rico (an island in the caribbean) and its HOT! ALWAYS but most lectures are in air conditioned areas. so a jacket is necesary. The carryall bag i needed it three years ago :( i didnt take mine to my orientation week (we have a 5 days orientation) and i was a tottal mess, if you saw papers everywhere yup! that was me…. so congrats on this amazing article! and i wish you the best in this new part of your life.

  2. 2
    July 22nd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    what you said about colleges and ice cream…SO TRUE! at both my freshman orientation and the traditional freshman “Tiger Walk” (I go to Mizzou, and as a tradition all freshman walk through the columns on our quad, representing their entrance into the university), we got our university’s official ice cream: tiger stripe! (yellow vanilla with chocolate streaks). SO GOOD! :d

  3. 3
    July 22nd, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Ah, love this. So glad you loved Northeastern! I just graduated from the business school and am still living next to campus if you ever have any questions :)

  4. 4
    July 22nd, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    This is awesome! I would say if there is any advice to other incoming freshman, its to be NOT AFRAID TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS! I helped out with the Honors info sessions this year, and it was so nice to hear freshman engaged and excited to learn more about the program. And at least you’ll have a familiar face on campus if you really need help :)

  5. 5
    July 22nd, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I’m from Austria and College is a little different here, but still I can totally relate! I’m going to be a freshman this fall and to say that I’m excited would be an understatement ;)
    Anyway I really enjoyed both of your articles and am looking forward to hear more about your College experience!

  6. 6
    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    My brother is attending Northeastern and I went with him to his orientation last year. This all brings back memories…..

  7. 7
    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I wish this post was up when I had orientation! I absolutely agree with the fact that everyone is trying to make friends. I met one of my best friends at orientation!

  8. 8
    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I wish this had been posted earlier! My orientation was way back at the beginning of June and I was super nervous. Unfortunately, almost everyone at my orientation had already met each other at a camp the previous few days, so I didn’t meet many people. Everyone seemed to be in their cliques already, which I wasn’t expecting at all. So I definitely didn’t meet my best friend at orientation.

  9. 9
    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I’m only a sophomore in high school right now, and I’ve found that the closer I get to college, the more nervous I get. This really helped to calm me down. Thanks!

  10. 10
    July 22nd, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Northeastern!! Whoo, I’m about to be a sophomore. Welcome to the Husky Nation girl!

  11. 11
    July 22nd, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    This is really helpful. I’m going to my orientation in Chicago next Friday and I’m really nervous about it. I don’t know if the people are going to be friendly or not. But I will hope for the best.

  12. 12
    July 22nd, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    ahhh! I have orientation in one week! perfect timing!!! I know I’m really gonna love this series!!! I’m so excited for college!

  13. 13
    July 22nd, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I loved this! I am going to be a freshman at Mizzou in the fall and I was just there for orientation about 3 weeks ago. It’s so funny to know that even though there are so many different universities, a lot of the orientation process is very similar! Your article was great and I feel like there was a ton that I could relate to!

  14. 14
    July 22nd, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    is this how it works in the states??? where i live, you do all this in september a week before classes start

  15. 15
    July 22nd, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I love it! Definitely needed this.

    please go visit this blog –


  16. 16
    July 22nd, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Awesome post! I’ll be a sophomore at NU this fall, it’s amazing. And trust me, they love their free ice cream there…not that I’m complaining lol

  17. 17
    July 22nd, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I went to mine a few weeks ago, seriously bring a bag, so many girls were bagless holding papers ect. Wasn’t good. And dress comfortably, while I was at University of Kentucky it was beyond sticky and humid!

    But these are awesome tips! great artcile!!

  18. 18
    July 22nd, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Thank you so much for not only providing outfits, but posting a little bit about your experience!

  19. 19
    July 22nd, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I competed at DECA in Louisville too! We won top ten:) what did you compete in? And I looved the outfits!

  20. 20
    July 23rd, 2011 at 12:04 am

    I’m going to be a freshman at Northeastern next year too! I haven’t been to orientation yet so this was very interesting and now I know exactly what to expect (:

  21. 21
    July 23rd, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Your outfits are so cute. I especially love the first one, so simple it works. I competed in DECA too. I place to go to the Kentucky nationals but our school ended up going to this DECA event in Florida. The Californian DECA trip the year before was amazing.

  22. 22
    July 23rd, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I’m going to be a sophomore at college. But sadly, I dislike orientation, and at my university, they have orientation camps. Needless to say I didn’t go for mine, and given another chance, I still wouldnt go. Haha but that’s just me, if you enjoy stuff like that then you’d have a lot of fun.

  23. 23
    July 23rd, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Good to know that there is another Minnesotan going to Northeastern. I was starting to feel lonely. Hope you have a great first year!

  24. 24
    July 23rd, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I am an incoming freshman and I am about the start studying at college in Czech Republic (Brno). The most scary thing for me is making friends as I’m not what you would call “a friendly person” and I’m worried that no one starts talking to me and I will be left on my own.. I also won’t live at the dorms but near the city in my parents’ house so… I really hope everything’s gonna be fine… But thanks a lot for an article like this, it’s been really helpful!

  25. 25
    July 23rd, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Glad to see Mizzou represented in the comments!!

    This post was great, I definitely wish it would’ve been up when I went to my orientation a few weeks ago… I agree, shorts are definitely the way to go for orientation with all the moving around and activity during the days.

    It looks like you are really prepared for college — I can’t wait to read what else you have in mind for future posts!

    <3 Emily

  26. 26
    July 23rd, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Welcome to NEU! I’m starting my sophomore year in September.

  27. 27
    July 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 am

    aw! Sarah, I’m so glad you had such a great time. And to all of the freshman out there about to start school in the next month or so, you have no idea how much fun you are about to have! I graduated college a year ago, and even though I liked high school and everything, I still feel like my life didn’t even begin until college. My school was smaller and we didn’t have a huge orientation, but as far as advice for school, I would urge you to try new things, save some money so you can do some traveling while you are young (study abroad and go on spring break), and definitely take at least one “just for fun” class that really interests you even if it is not related to your major! (Many schools offer wine tasting classes for the 21 and up students. So fun!)

  28. 28
    July 23rd, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Welcome to NEU. Just found out about this site, scrolled down and saw this and freaked out. You’ll fit right in, everyone is pretty fashionable there. Welcome to NEU, awesome school, I’ll be starting my sophomore year there.

  29. 29
    July 23rd, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Laura & Vanessa: Thank you for your great advice! I love comments like yours. They are so helpful :)

    Aria: Not all colleges do orientation like mine. There are a lot of colleges in the states that have orientation like yours!

    Jamie: Good luck! I’m sure you’ll make some great friends.

    Melissa & Ashley: I did operations research! Hard, but such a worthwhile experience. Congratulations on your successes!

    Huskies: Thank you so much for the welcoming comments!! I’m so excited to find this NU community :) GO NU!!!

  30. 30
    July 23rd, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I’m so glad your orientation went so well! I can totally relate. I’m from rural MO and attending school in NJ. Our weather is pretty similar (although the summers are worse in MO) but that’s just about where the similarities end. I wish you the best at Northeastern. Go Class of 2015!

    And Emily, I hope your Tiger Stripes ice cream was from Central Dairy. Best in the world!

  31. 31
    July 24th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Sarah- Thanks for this post. I’m a Husky as well, except I am in the CPS program with one more class to go! :) Being as graduate students don’t have orientation, it was great to read what it’s like to attend orientation @ NU. It is similar to my undergraduate orientation.
    Wish you the best, and welcome! :D

  32. 32
    July 24th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Heyy, sweets!! I went to Northeastern orientation, too!!! It WAS fabulous…..i’m personally looking forward to all the great shoppertunities Boston has to offer!!! And I KNOW i came back from Northeastern with an armload of new tees bearing the Huskies mascot :). Hope we meet in the fall….sooo excited :)

  33. 33
    July 24th, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    the outfits are great! perfect for all the moving around you do at orientation. :)

  34. 34
    July 25th, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Oh I love your advice for orientation. I will be attending Hampton University in the fall (an HBCU) and we have a week long orientation the week before we start school. I will be sure to take tips from this article with me to use while there. Also I was also apart of DECA too. I was a state officer during the Louisville ICDC. It’s always good hearing about fellow DECA members doing well.

  35. 35
    July 25th, 2011 at 1:25 am

    This is so cute! I really wish it had been up when I had my orientation in June though

  36. 36
    July 26th, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Awesome. I’m gonna be starting school at SCSU in Minnesota this August and orientation is like, literally, the day before classes start. This was great information though, thanks!

  37. 37
    July 26th, 2011 at 5:21 am

    First of all: I totally loved this article! truly great advice!
    But I was wondering if you could maybe do a post on whast to wear to your first day of College? Cause I really wanna look fashionable without appearing to be trying to hard for my first day as a freshman…

  38. 38
    July 27th, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    This article was really helpful and gave me a good idea on what to expect and what to WEAR for my orientation this Saturday! (: I’m glad you had fun at your orientation and I hope I do too. Is there anything you suggest people to bring to their orientation that they may forget to bring or may not even think of bringing?

  39. 39
    July 31st, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    My orientation was 4 days before school started. You could choose to go to certain activities or not. There was a lot of food… Way too much. I went tO several of them and there was always something to eat… Be careful!

  40. 40
    July 31st, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    This was such a great post! It’s awesome to read about other people going through the same things I am. I just attended my orientation for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and I loved it! Everyone was so friendly and I made friends no problem. It made me so much less nervous for starting next month (ah! so soon!). Good call on the casual comfortable outfits. Good luck at Northeastern!

  41. 41
    August 4th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Wow, I wish I had read this before orientation! Although I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience, I do wish I had someone tell me to pack lightly. Even so, I bonded with my suitemates as I showed them the FOUR PAIRS OF HEELS I packed in addition to enough clothes to last me for a semester, all for a two day orientation! I was so nervous beforehand but I met the most wonderful people and had an incredible time, but its because I MADE it happen, yknow? I felt so much more independent, spunky and uninhibited compared to myself in high school, where there’s so much history and social moores that it’s hard not be repressed. In fact, at orientation I was hanging with my assigned group for a while and I felt like I was the one keeping up the conversation so then I saw a cute guy who was online behind me before check-out who had been chuckling at me and my parent’s banter. All day, he never left my mind so I excused myself from the group, went over to him and we just CLICKED. Literally, three hours later people were asking me how long we’d been in a relationship! Eventually, a whole group formed around us and we made lots of friends but were still the “leaders,” which I’ve never been before. We’re still texting and its almost a month later! Best of luck in college everyone, especially you Sarah!

  42. 42
    July 7th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Wow, so many people ere from Mizzou! Go Tigers!

    I leave for orientation this afternoon. Wish me luck!

  43. 43
    July 8th, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hi I know this article is really old. But it’s put me at ease about going to college Orientation later this month at Point Park University (Pittsburgh PA) thanks for the great advice :D

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