The Scholar Perspective: First-Year Orientation

On Tuesday, higher education professional Erin Ciarimboli shared the inside scoop on first-year orientation. Today, one of our Scholars is sharing her experience and advice on what to expect at orientation.

Raeven Jones-Kelley graduated from Waukegan High School in 2012. She is a rising sophomore at Haverford College, where she is looking forward to joining the executive board of the Black Student League for the 2013-2014 school year.

Can you tell us a little about the process of preparing for orientation? What were you planning and packing?

For orientation I packed everything that I needed for the school year because orientation was immediately followed by classes, so I did not have a chance to return home for my things. To be honest, my mom packed most of the things that I needed for college and I focused on packing clothes and all of my toiletries.

One thing that I did find helpful was the college list that Bed, Bath, and Beyond puts out. They seriously have all the things you could ever need for college on that list.

When it comes to planning for orientation the most important thing I learned was to bring sunscreen and to have a full night of sleep. My orientation was outside all day and we did lots of games and activities outside. I was exhausted by the end of the day and wished I had planned on getting a full night of sleep and brought sunscreen.

What types of events and activities should students expect?

Expect many team-building and getting to know people activities. There will probably be lots of getting to know your school activities too, where you will learn about rules specific to your school or special things (like traditions or landmarks) about your school. The coolest event during orientation is the fair for all of the clubs.

As a student, what are the benefits of first-year orientation?

The benefits to attending first year orientation are meeting your roommate/roommates and your floor mates before school starts. Orientation is also the perfect time to explore your school grounds without the stress of hurrying to your classes. You also meet your Resident Advisor (R.A.), who will be one of the best resources you will have throughout the school year.

Are there any must-have items that students should bring with them?

  • Sunscreen
  • Cell phone
  • Comfortable clothes: Now this is important. I know many want to look cute on their first day of meeting everyone, but you have to keep in mind that you will be doing activities all day long and you want to be comfortable. So no high heels or dresses girls!
  • A great smile - first impressions count :)

What is the most challenging part of first-year orientation? The most fun/rewarding?

The most challenging and most fun part of orientation is meeting new people and saying goodbye to your parents. It is a very bittersweet moment in your life. The most rewarding part of orientation is knowing that you finally made it to college, because until you attend orientation it seems like only a dream.

What is the biggest change students and families should anticipate in the Orientation/pre-college process?

Students need to prepare themselves for changes in their relationships with people back home, sometimes including the loss of friends from before college. The biggest change parents need expect is less communication from their children. College is full of fun activities and new people and students will be focused on that and may put their parents on the back burner. (Parents: see Scholar Ed Ciobanu’s advice for parents here!)

If you could give first-year college students your best three pieces of advice before they get started, what would it be?

My three pieces of advice for first-year college students would be:
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Don't forget that you are there for school—not partying!
  • Use all of your school resources! Just because you use them or need them does not mean that you aren’t smart; they are there to help you.

Raeven, thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice! College students: did you have a similar experience at orientation? Do you have any other wisdom to share with first-year students?


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