7 Things They Don’t Tell You at Orientation

Orientation is a great time for you to meet potential friends, get to know your school and ask any questions you may have, but there’s still a lot to learn. As great as orientation is for giving you the basics, there’s a lot that you’ll learn along the way during your freshman year. So, we talked to some collegiettes to give you all the details about what you won’t learn during orientation, but what you should know before you head off to freshman year.

1. Pre-orientation is important

Okay, this is cheating a little because it’s before orientation even happens, but scheduling orientation is super important.

Casey Sweeney, a senior at the University of South Carolina, says, “I didn’t realize it freshman year, but when you go to orientation is really important because that determines what classes you get.” A lot of schools have multiple days of orientation, and although you might think it doesn’t matter when you go, it might impact your freshman year schedule. If you go to an early orientation, there’s a better chance you’ll get classes you actually want, so keep that in mind.

2. Lock your door

You might hear people say that leaving your door open is a great way to make friends and get to know your hall, but be wary. This is a good tactic for when you’re in your room and aware, but always lock your door when you’re gone and when you’re sleeping.

Olivia Murray, a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, says, “Definitely lock your doors, especially when you’re sleeping, because one night I left mine unlocked and someone came into my room and stole my laptop.” Of course, this is pretty extreme, but it’s better to be on the safe side. College dorms are pretty secure, but you’re still living with strangers, so get into the habit of locking your door.

3. Don’t fall into a food routine

It’s super easy to always go to the dining hall closest to you, but that might not always be the best choice or healthiest option.

“You get sick of the food so easily, so try to switch up the dining hall you eat at to make things more interesting,” says Ally McNeil, a sophomore at James Madison University. “I went to the dining hall near me for a really long time out of convenience, but I basically just ended up eating pizza for two months. It gets old fast.”

It’s hard to force yourself to make the trek to other dining halls, but not only is it good exercise, it also allows you to switch up your meals and prevents you from being tempted by unhealthy options all the time.

Related: The Dos and Don’ts of Freshman Year

4. Don’t bring your entire wardrobe

When packing for college, it can be so tempting to just shove everything in trash bags and trek it to your school. “Don’t bring your whole closet,” Olivia says. “You’ll only end up wearing half of it anyways.”

Trust us, there’s no way you’ll end up wearing your snow pants and high school track suit at school—leave them at home. Only bring the things you’ll wear on a daily basis. And don’t bring a ton of winter clothes, either—bring them back after winter break to save you the hassle of dragging a bunch of clothes back and forth.

5. Lanyard = freshman

You know how everyone gets that cute lanyard to attach his or her school ID to? Dead giveaway that you’re a freshman. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you want to seem a little more integrated, switch it out for a different lanyard. Plus, it’s less likely that you’ll lose it if you don’t have the same exact lanyard as every other freshman.

6. You’ll have a lot of downtime

College is all about managing time. Chances are, your days won’t be as filled with classes as they were in high school. The great thing about this is you have a lot more time for extracurricular activities, working out, getting homework done and making friends. The bad thing is that you’ll probably just want to take a nap.

Don’t get us wrong, taking naps are important and we’re all for them, but you don’t want to become a recluse. Try not to go back to your dorm room all the time; instead, go to the library, the quad or any other place on campus. The less time you spend in your dorm, the better your college experience will be.

7. You might not love it at first

College is a huge transition from high school. Suddenly, you’re living on your own, eating on your own and managing all your time. Sure, on paper that sounds pretty sweet, but it can feel lonely at times.

There’s tons of pressure to make college the best time of your life, but it might not feel that way in the beginning. “When I first started college I didn’t really like it,” says Marie Knoll, a senior at the University of South Carolina. “I thought there was no way these people could replace my high school friends and I found myself dying to go home.”

It gets better, though. “Now, I have a hard time leaving,” Marie says. “The friendships I’ve made are so much different than the ones at home and I love my routine at school. It took me a while, but once I got used to it I actually did love it.” Don’t feel pressured to love it at first. Change takes time, but if you put your best foot forward and get involved, you’ll be sure to love your college experience.

Orientation is a great way to learn about scheduling classes, campus activities and basic rules, but it doesn’t give you the ins and outs of campus. With these tips, you’ll be a little more prepared than you were before and ready to take on freshman year!