Preparing your students for college – Orientation 101

I recently attended my daughter’s orientation at a great University she will be attending this Fall. It was a two day jam packed extravaganza filled with information on what she can expect when she starts school in a little more than a month.
There was great information for both students and parents. There were sessions on campus parking, meal plans, campus organizations, financial aid, and meetings with the individual school deans of each major available. There were also networking opportunities (without mom and dad) so the students could mingle and begin to make new friends.
Upon leaving she had her class schedule set and information on where to order books, when to arrive on campus, and a whole host of other things to read over and do before she starts one month hence.
After attending I saw a few things that Counselors can do to help students prepare for Orientation:
• Once the student has chosen their College begin discussing Majors with them. There were a number of students that didn’t seem to know what they wanted to do. It’s beneficial to at least have a major declared when you enter college as most schools have a defined set of classes that are taken the first year to year and a half regardless of major. A major can easily be changed during this period, but by declaring now you will get some valuable information about the declared major to determine if it is a fit or not. After these discussions if they still want to go in as undecided, by discussing their options with them, they at least will be better informed.
• Many students ran into other students from their high school that they didn’t know were going to be attending that College. It might be beneficial to publish a list of graduating students and the Colleges they plan to attend. Those students can then communicate if they want during the summer and know that they will have students they already know when they begin school in the Fall.
• Based on the questions asked, many students and parents had little knowledge about Financial Aid and how it works. This should be discussed in more depth prior to starting college.
• There were a number of sessions on alcohol, drug and sexual abuse issues that can occur in College. These are important subjects that often times aren’t discussed enough in High School. This particular College requires students to take an online 3 hour tutorial before classes start. Any additional information given to students before high school graduation could be beneficial as these are such important issues at college campuses once the students are away from home for the first time.