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?

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!

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