Over the summer, students entering college will attend their college orientation. This is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time for college students, as they might stay overnight in a dorm room, create their fall schedule, and get a taste of what living away from home and attending college will be like, even if it is only for one day.
Each university has its own way of conducting orientation. One of the popular versions of college orientation is to stay overnight in a dorm room and attend two days of workshops. One of these workshops will include creating the students fall schedule. This is both exciting and slightly scary for your student, as she/he will realize that the dream of attending college is soon to be a reality. They will live in a small dorm room with a skinny, uncomfortable mattress and be subjected to cafeteria food. Mommy and daddy will not be around to do their laundry, make sure they wake up in the morning, and tell them to go to bed on time. While the thought of all of this independence is intriguing, it can be scary at the same time; especially if a child isn’t disciplined on their own.
As a parent, orientation is also a reality check that your child will be leaving home soon, and that is a hard thought to wrap your head around. The night they stay in a dorm room, even though it is only for one night, is a huge wake-up call. You will need to be mentally prepared.
Whether you drive or fly to orientation, it will be a small little trip out of town. Have fun with it! Arrive to the college town early and do a small amount of sight-seeing. This will make you, the parent, more comfortable with the surrounding area as well as acquaint your child with the location of their future home. Before orientation starts, look around at the surrounding area of the college. Where can your student walk to? Are there affordable restaurants nearby? If your student loves ramen for example, is there a place close to campus she/he can go to on the weekends? Is there a CVS or other convenience store close to campus? Is there one on campus?
Walk around the campus and give yourself a self-guided tour before you drop off your student for orientation. This will give you a chance to bond over the tour and make you, the parent, feel like part of the school. The more familiar you are with the school, the less scary the whole experience will be.
Attend all the workshops! The students will go off and do their own sessions during orientation, and there are usually workshops and presentations for the parents. Go to everything! This is a great way to learn more about the school and start to feel connected to the school community. It will also help you, help your child.
Your student will stay overnight in an undecorated, stuffy dorm room. They might freak out. Make sure your phone is charged and by your side so if they call, you can remind them that when they move in, they will decorate the room. Also remind them you can get a gel foam mattress cover to make the bed more comfortable. If you reassure them, they will feel better. Hopefully they are having fun and won’t notice the bare dorm room.
When orientation is over, don’t rush home. Ask your student if there is anything on campus they want to check out before you leave. Take a look at their schedule and find the buildings their classes will be in during their first semester. This will help them feel ready for starting classes, and it will also let you help them before they go away.
Don’t let them see you sweat. There is a chance your child is excited and thrilled to go away to college and you are a hot mess. Try to hold your hot mess inside when your student is around so that they can enjoy this life-changing event. I know it’s hard, but all parents go through it. You are not alone. Join the parents’ group online for your child’s college and make connections with other parents. If the school is not local, look for parents’ groups locally and join them. This will help you make local connections and offer a local support system for things like traveling to and from school, preparing for a different weather pattern, storing items over the summer, and more.
College orientation is an exciting event held over the summer before school starts in the fall. Enjoy every moment and attend everything surrounding the event. This will help you prepare for the big move in August.
Thanks for stopping by, and congrats to your child on their new adventure!