With May 1st long behind us, many college-bound seniors are asking about their next steps to prepare for college. Of course, they’ll have paid their enrollment deposit and secured their spot in the incoming class before May 1st, National Candidates Reply Date.
Beyond paying that deposit and accepting the offer, perhaps the most important thing you can do to get ready for college is attend your school’s summer orientation. This is generally a few-day program designed for incoming students, and often parents as well. You’ll learn so many great things during orientation, like how to get (and use) your student ID, how to find academic tutoring or health services when you might need them, where your dorm is, and so forth. You may have seen many of these campus hot spots if and when you toured the school originally, but go into this orientation with a renewed energy and clear set of eyes. After all, you’re looking at the school from an entirely different perspective now as a committed student than you did as a prospective applicant.
Some colleges hold orientation the week of move in, so you’ll have to wait with bated breath throughout the summer to get the ‘lay of the land’.
For those that offer various dates throughout the summer, I recommend my students select the first available session. While most colleges are good about reserving the right amount of classes for incoming students, you’ll have a better selection of your preferred classes (even if it means being able to take a class at 2pm as opposed to 8am!) if you attend an earlier session.
Speaking of course selection, summer orientation is when you’ll be meeting with your academic advisor, who will guide you in selecting your first-year courses. I cannot stress enough how important this meeting is, as it will, quite literally, set the course for your next four years of study. You should listen well and be paying attention, as you’ll likely be responsible for signing up for your remaining years of courses on your own.
After you sign up for classes and finalize your housing preferences, the college can render a more accurate final bill, as certain courses have lab fees, some meal plans are more expensive, etc. Again, this is why I encourage students to attend an earlier session so that they can plan accordingly for how to pay that college bill.
Of course, those hundreds—perhaps thousands of new faces you see in the crowd at orientation will be your classmates, so don’t be afraid to introduce yourself as you go through the motions. Sit next to someone new during mealtime at the cafeteria. Strike up a conversation with the kid sitting next to you in a classroom presentation. Don’t cling to your parents, as they won’t be on campus with you on your first day of classes anyway! Start the process of getting to know other students early, and perhaps let those connections lead to Facebook friendships or Instagram follows to begin building your friend group before the fall.
On your way out, pick up some swag at the book store, head home equipped with excitement and all of the information you’ll need to succeed, and enjoy the rest of your summer. It will fly by, and fall will be here before you know it!
Until Next Time,
College Dream Builder