Get matched with vetted scholarships and enter our
I’m a high school student I’m a college or graduate student
100% Free. No Spam.
Start typing in the text field above
Load More
Advertiser disclosure

Student-centric advice and objective recommendations

Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.

Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.

What is College Orientation?

By Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Reviewed by Bill Jack

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Posted: June 22nd, 2023
What is College Orientation?

Are you ready to embark on your new adventure at college? College orientation is the first step to a new chapter in your life! This article focuses on orientation for first-year incoming college students, but keep in mind that there are orientation sessions for transfer and international students as well. Keep reading to learn what college orientation is and what to expect when you attend!

What is college orientation? 

College orientation is an opportunity for incoming students to explore the campus and meet faculty and other students before the start of school. Essentially, college orientation is an introduction to college life. College orientation typically takes place the summer before the fall semester. 

What are the main goals of college orientation?

While the main goal of college orientation is to familiarize students with the campus and school, there are other perks. College orientation allows students to get to know one another and connect with new people before the start of their first semester of college. When students step foot on campus, they might see a familiar face (of a person they connected with during orientation) making for a smoother transition to campus. 

Also see: How to deal with homesickness at college

What happens during college orientation? 

Every campus has a unique college orientation, and therefore, a unique itinerary of what students will be doing during orientation. Some colleges break students into random groups, group them by major, or just talk to the entire incoming class. Therefore, before you attend your college orientation, you should read up on any information that has been sent to you. This will include a detailed description of the events that your school has planned for you and for how long. 

How long is college orientation?

Depending on your school, college orientation could last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The duration of an orientation depends on the school itself. Some colleges offer a whole day filled with activities, while others plan a short afternoon session. Some may even organize overnight activities in order to allow students to experience what dorm life is like. 

What is covered at orientation?

Most college orientations include a tour of the campus and a presentation of some kind. A tour of the campus allows you to get a good idea of where all the buildings and unique facilities are located. This could include buildings such as classrooms, the library, gym, and the dining halls. 

A presentation is also a very typical event at college orientation. Presentations could cover a wide array of topics from major specific information, to campus safety protocols, to listening to experts on campus speak about their resources. Ultimately, these presentations will present you with a lot of valuable information and even give you the opportunity to evaluate if your school’s values align with yours. 

Don’t miss: All about Greek Life

Is college orientation mandatory? 

College orientation looks different for every college. So, some schools make attendance optional while others are strict about making orientation mandatory. Therefore, it is important to review your schools requirements regarding college orientation and to reach out to your school if you cannot attend college orientation. 

How do I prepare for college orientation? 

What to wear

College orientation typically occurs during the summer and requires a lot of walking around and touring the campus. Therefore, it is a good idea to wear comfortable shoes and weather appropriate clothes. It is important to review any information your school may have sent about college orientation because they may have specific information about attire you should wear. In addition, some college orientations even give students free swag such as a shirt to wear! 

What to bring

Once again, be sure to review any information that was sent to you regarding your school’s specific college orientation. They may tell you exactly what to bring! For a typical half day orientation session, you should bring a water bottle, notebook and pen in order to jot down any important information you are told. For an overnight orientation, the packing will be the same as for any trip where you will need essentials. 

Related: Is work study worth it?

Tips for attending college orientation

Get at least one fellow student’s contact information

This tip is helpful for getting you out of your comfort zone in order to talk to other incoming students. Remember, nearly all the students attending college orientation have never been to a college orientation before! Therefore, everyone is in the same boat and is feeling the same way you do, so get out there and talk to people! 

In addition, getting to know your fellow classmates will make your transition to college life easier as you will have familiar faces on campus to turn to. In addition, having someone’s contact information can allow you to ask them any questions you may have! 

Ask questions! 

Orientation is your opportunity to ask important questions if you have them. College orientation is all about answering incoming student questions and making the unknowns about college known! Therefore, if there are any opportunities to ask questions, you should! 

Also see: How to get involved on campus

Take notes

Chances are, you will be given a lot of information during college orientation. Therefore, it is critical to take notes throughout the day in order to remember important information. Another reminder to bring a notebook and a pen, or you can even jot down notes in your phone. 

Tips from a recent college orientation attendee

College orientation was a great introduction to my school. I was able to meet new people, visit buildings, talk with upperclassmen, and explore the college in general. I had toured my college a year prior to orientation, so I had forgotten where most of the locations were on campus. My orientation leader, who was a junior at the time, was very helpful in showing me around. I was able to visualize where my classes were while socializing with other new students. 

My main tip for someone attending orientation for the first time would be to pay attention! The upperclassmen orientation leaders usually give great advice that you can use during your time in college. I recommend taking notes or asking questions to ensure that you are focused during orientation. 

Carrie Gilmore

Freshman student

Manhattan College

Final thoughts

College orientation is a fun time to get to know your new home and future friends. It is a vital stepping stone to help provide you with the knowledge, support, and social network you need to navigate your exciting college journey. Good luck with your college journey, and remember that Scholarships360 is here to help you along the way! 

Read more: Scholarships360 free scholarship search tool

Frequently asked questions about college orientation

Is college orientation only for freshmen?

College orientation does primarily target incoming freshmen. However, some colleges and universities offer orientation programs for transfer students, international students, and non-traditional students in order to help these new students have a smooth transition into college life. Double check with your desired institution on what type of groups they have college orientation for!

Can parents attend college orientation?

Many colleges offer separate orientation sessions specifically for parents and family members. These sessions typically provide information about campus resources and ways to stay involved with your college student’s journey.

What if I cannot make college orientation?

  Do not worry if you cannot make college orientation, as you will not be barred from attending college. You should reach out to your college’s orientation coordinator to discuss alternative options or resources available.

How long does college orientation typically last?

The duration of college orientation varies depending on the college or university itself. Therefore, make sure to review your college’s specific orientation agenda to get an idea of how long your orientation will last.

3 reasons to join scholarships360

  • Automatic entry to our $10,000 No-Essay Scholarship
  • Personalized matching to thousands of vetted scholarships
  • Quick apply for scholarships exclusive to our platform

By the way...Scholarships360 is 100% free!

Join For Free