July 7, 2016

Orientation Tips - What to expect, what to pack, and what not to wear

It's summer, which means... it's orientation time! During orientation, you'll familiarize yourself with the campus with the help of orientation advisors (basically, tour guides), register for classes, learn about university policies, and (hopefully) make some new friends.

General Advice and Random Tibits:
  1. REGISTER FOR AN EARLY ORIENTATION DATE. REGISTER FOR AN EARLY ORIENTATION DATE. REGISTER FOR AN EARLY ORIENTATION DATE!!! You might not feel like going to orientation right after your high school graduation ceremony, but register for the earliest orientation date possible. At orientation, you register for classes, and classes fill up quickly. If you go to orientation at the end of July, all the good professors will be taken, and you'll be left with the bad professors and 8 am classes. (I realize that you already picked your orientation date at this point in time, but try to move it up if you can.)
  2. Try to make a class schedule ahead of time. On the second day of orientation, students are split into groups based on major, and a staff member will help the group of students choose and register for classes. Although you are split off into small groups, you don't get that much individualized attention. Each major has its own set of requirements, and if you are clueless, the process can really fly over your head. Try to read up on your major's four year plans and degree requirements ahead of time. You don't need to know your exact schedule, but at least figure out which electives you are interested in and which classes you must take your first year (English 101, for example). A little research beforehand will pay off a long way!
  3. Create your university email and directory ID at home. You will need a directory ID to log into secure wifi while on campus, and you also need a directory ID to register for classes.
  4. If you are attending a two day orientation, you'll stay overnight in a dorm room. Bedsheets aren't provided, but AC is. (Or at least when I went to orientation, two summers ago, there was AC in the dorm hosting all the orientation students.) The suffering starts later.
  5. If you haven't already, send your AP scores to UMD. It will make registering for classes much easier. 
About the packing list...

You can read the packing list yourself, but here are the big ones:
  1. It is going to be sweltering hot! The packing list says bring a reusable water bottle and sunscreen - please do! 
  2. You are going to be walking a lot. A LOT! Leave your cute strappy platform sandals at home; comfortable walking shoes are a must. 
  3. The packing list also recommends bringing a swimsuit. Do you really need one? During the first night, orientation advisors bring you to the outdoor pool at Eppley. Some people choose to swim, and others don't. Bring your swim suit anyway. You might not use it, but it's nice to at least have it if your new friends want to go swimming. 
  4. The packing list doesn't say umbrella, but bring one in case. Maryland weather is unpredictable, and you are going to be outdoors for the vast majority of orientation.
A random tip...

Do not let this happen be your student ID photo - do not become a member of the floating head club.

Don’t wear a red shirt at orientation. During orientation, you’ll get your student ID photo taken. This photo lasts for all four years of your college career. The background of your photo is red, so if you wear a red shirt, your head will float awkwardly in the photo. 

After orientation...

And what if you don't meet your future roommate at orientation? What if you don't hit it off with anyone at orientation?

It's okay! Depending on what orientation you go to (honors specific, etc.), you might not even see anyone you meet at orientation again! I didn't want to go swimming or go outside at night during my two-day orientation, so I sat alone in the room and later went to sleep. (Wow. that sounds really sad now that I read that back to myself...) I didn't make any friends at all during orientation, and that's okay! I made friends when the school year started. Don't stress about it.


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