Participating in new student orientation either online or on campus will enable your first-year student to hit the ground running in the fall. At many colleges, parents can attend orientation, too.
In fact, schools design programming just for families and share lots of critical information during parent orientation.
Whether it’s a big university summer event or a small college program taking place between move-in day and the start of classes, orientation is your chance to learn how things work at your student’s school, meet representatives from different departments, get to know the campus, connect with fellow parents, and get all your questions answered.
Here is what to expect at orientation and how to make the most of it.
Prepare to walk a lot and to sit in over-air-conditioned buildings by wearing comfortable shoes and layered clothing. Bring a hat, sun lotion, and an umbrella. A backpack or satchel will come in handy for stowing pamphlets and handouts, and you may want paper and pen for note taking.
For the most part, you will attend separate sessions from your student. This is all part of encouraging your student’s independence and self-advocacy. But there is a lot parents can do to support student success, and the parent orientation panels should address the transitional issues first-year students experience and the best parental support strategies.
You will be invited to presentations with representatives from many offices: Residential Life, Health Services, Bursar (paying tuition), Campus Police, Parent and Family Relations, etc. There will be parent versions of some of the student orientation programming — you’ll see how the college approaches serious topics like drinking and drugs on campus, sexual assault prevention and support for victims, and academic honesty.
Orientation is a last chance to bond. When you come back together with your student after your separate orientation experiences, listen and learn. What made a big impression on him? What is he excited or worried about? It will take a few days for both of you to process everything, but you’ll have lots to talk about and that’s probably the biggest orientation benefit of all.
Also by Diane Schwemm:
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