The Freshman Experience: College Orientation

An incoming freshman shares her experience at Northeastern University’s college orientation, plus orientation success tips.

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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?

{RELATED POST: What to Wear to College Orientation: 6 Perfect Outfit Ideas}

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

Top / 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.

More Freshman Year Tips, Experiences, and Advice

This article is part of our Freshman Experience series. For more, see: 8 Week Countdown, Tips & Tricks for Meeting the Roommate, Dorm Room Shopping Tips, First Semester Goals, College Packing List, Getting Involved on Campus, 4 Ways to Ease Midterm Stress, College Misconceptions & Ask a Freshman, Freshman Year Questions – Answered, Thanksgiving Break Essentials, Tackling Holiday Shopping in College, First Semester Goals Revisited, and Final Thoughts.

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!

32 thoughts on “The Freshman Experience: College Orientation”

  1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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! 😀

  7. 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!

  8. 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!!!

  9. 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!)

  10. 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

  11. 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!

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

  13. 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.


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