Not sure what to expect at your teen’s college orientation? Get our 7 tips to help parents prepare for college orientation.

college just ahead sign held in air in front of green trees with blue skies behind

Back in the dark ages when we went to college there wasn’t orientation during the summer after high school graduation.  Our parents moved us in and we attended orientation on our own before classes began.  Things are a bit different today.  Most colleges have parent & student orientation scheduled weeks or even months before heading off to school.  

students working in coffee shop with notebook and laptop on table

Parents tend to be involved in their children’s lives more than ever before.  Sending your teenager off on their own is a big adjustment for the whole family.  College orientation helps smooth that transition for everyone.  

Over the past few years, we’ve both sent our firstborn to college.  We’ve shed some tears but we’re here to tell you it will all be okay.  Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of the college orientation experience.

7 Tips to Survive College Orientation

Rising college freshman at orientation making a wolfpack sign with his hand standing in front of a metal wolf sculpture

1. Be Prepared

Make sure your student is reading all their emails from their college.  Many colleges have placement exams and other requirements that students must do prior to orientation.  You don’t want your kid to be that kid who shows up unprepared.  

2. Book a Hotel Room

If orientation includes an overnight stay this is the perfect opportunity to book yourself a nice hotel room to enjoy.  Let your student stay in the dorm and get their first college experience.  This gives them time to spread their wings and start making new friends. 

3. Parents & Students Have Different Sessions

Be prepared to be separated from your student.  Remember orientation isn’t really about family bonding.  Knowing this ahead of time may save you a few tears. 😂 Parent & student sessions will cover similar topics but geared toward each audience.  During this time you’ll learn all about resources, meal plans, healthcare, and safety on campus. 

Empty seats in a large college lecture hall

4. Class Registration

Don’t be shocked, but while you learn all the details of paying for college in your parent session, your student is registering for classes…yup without you!  But seriously no need to worry because students will have an advisor to help them select their classes that day.  

5. Did you know about FERPA?

Newsflash: Did you know that you won’t have access to their grades?! Hello FERPA restrictions! This is the time to chat with your student about expectations and perhaps get their login information.  😉

6. What to Wear

Wear comfortable shoes for all your tours around campus.  This isn’t the time for wearing super cute wedges! You may want to bring along a light sweater because some of the locations may have the AC cranked on high. And it never hurts to grab an umbrella, just in case! 

7. Starting to Let Go

Remember this orientation experience is all about them, not you.  Don’t let the emotions you may be feeling put a damper on their excitement.  And if they are feeling anxious, be supportive and encouraging that they can do this.

student with backwards baseball cap and backpack on walking

College orientation is your practice run for what’s to come when you drop them off on move-in day.  Give them some space and independence to start their new adventure. You’ve spent the last 18 years preparing your teen for this time in their life.  Trust that you’ve done your job well! 

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