As newly admitted college or career school students anticipate changes in their lives, they may experience a variety of feelings ranging from pleasure at acquiring independence to sadness at leaving family and friends. They may also experience fear of the unknown and fear of failure.
Parents may also be worried about a son or daughter leaving home, the high cost of postsecondary education and training and its impact on family finances. These factors can put a great deal of stress on individuals and families. To relieve some of the worry and stress, students and parents are encouraged to take part in a college’s or school’s first-year student orientation.
Information about an institution’s academic calendar, as well as its numerous resources and contacts is shared in orientation sessions that allow families to get answers to any questions they may have and become more knowledgeable about what to expect in one of life’s important transitions. Students and their parents will become familiar with various school offices and officials, as well as the various roles they play in helping students become acclimated to new academic settings.
In addition to learning about an institution’s policies and procedures, families taking part in orientation events will become familiar with any and all of the following: the school book store, library, computer resources, academic and career advising, health/housing/dining services, tutoring and counseling, future financial aid, campus security, and student activities and related services.
Setting both short-term and long-term goals, adhering to priorities and developing time management strategies are the keys to success for first year students. These life skills will help students balance both the responsibility and freedom that comes with adult status. Professors and instructors will treat students as adults and expect them to attend classes, do all assigned reading, meet guidelines and deadlines for required work, and take tests and exams as scheduled.
Student services professionals are trained to help new students learn and apply the organizational, communication, research and study skills they need for academic success.
Leaving family, friends, and familiar surroundings is challenging for everyone. Attending the college’s or school’s orientation program can give students and parents pertinent information, as well as networking opportunities so that plans for ride sharing, campus visits and group support can be made.
Reminders: Graduating seniors should check that final transcripts and admission test scores will be officially sent from the high school, as well as college transcripts, if early college credit is earned, to the college/career school the student plans to attend.
Final transcripts should also be sent to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) if the student plans to participate in intercollegiate athletics. Also, be sure the college or career school of choice receives a record of any successful scores earned through the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program (AP) or College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). For more information on these programs, go to ap.collegeboard.org or clep.collegeboard.org.
Suzanne Hatfield is a certified school counselor who worked in Maine high schools for twenty years before retiring.