Things They Don’t Tell You in Freshman Orientation

Going into college fresh out of high school, it’s totally normal for students to feel nervous about not seeing a crystal clear path ahead. That’s where freshman orientation comes in! It’s a time where orientation leaders provide the general ins and outs of what freshmen should expect in college. By attending freshman orientation, you get to meet new friends, get to know your school, and ask any questions you may have. But even after getting some answers, there’s still plenty more to learn. While you’ll get exposed to the basics in orientation, the bulk of what you’ll learn will come along the way as you tackle your freshman year.

Eager to get a glimpse of some things they don’t tell you in freshman orientation? Here’s what you need to know before beginning your freshman year:

Do Research on Professors

As silly as this may sound, the truth is who you pick as a professor can have a significant impact on how well you do in a class. If you want to succeed and avoid unnecessary stress, we recommend taking some time to do research on professors before committing to a course.

These days, it’s easy to look up any professor on the Internet and see what others have to say about him/her. Popular professor rating websites include Rate My Professors and Pick a Prof. Get first-hand advice and insight from undergraduates who have already “gone through it” so you can save yourself some trouble and avoid certain professors at all costs if many seem to have had nightmare experiences with them.

Hold Off on Buying Books

It’s only natural for an eager student to come super prepared, and that’s generally a good thing. But what a lot of freshmen don’t know is that not every single book on the syllabus is going to be used often, and you may be able to find some used copies or rentals for a steeply discounted price. Waiting until classes officially start and verifying the books you’ll actually need will save you lots of money. Trust us, the cost of books adds up fast!

Another way to save money on books is, make a friend in class and devise a plan to share or swap books. Or, if you know of a roommate taking the same class and already bought the books, you could discuss sharing with him/her or making copies for the few pages needed if it’s a book merely for reference.

If you are open to digital media, eBooks and PDF versions are often available for a fraction of the price. Having books on your iPad or computer can be an excellent way to not only hold onto your cash, but also save valuable space in your dorm room and backpack!

Be Wary of “Freshman 15”

Chances are, you may have heard about the dreaded “freshman 15” already. It refers to the 15 pounds that many new college students gain as a result of a hectic first year. Your orientation leader may not advise you in practicing portion control or eating healthy, but these are important to ensure optimal health. Without good health, it can be really difficult to do well in school. This is not to say that you need to stress about what to eat every meal, but avoiding 2 AM pizza runs and not drinking too many sodas or alcohol can go a long way in keeping your weight and health in check. Keep junk food to a minimum, and your wallet and body will thank you!

Keep Your Door Open

By “keep your door open,” we mean both literally and non-literally. If you are in your dorm room relaxing or eating lunch, it’s a good idea to leave your room door open to welcome interesting conversations and meet new people. Even if you are shy or introverted by nature, connecting with others will give you a stronger sense of community and belonging. Plus, you never know who you’ll encounter! You could meet your new best friend or other life-changing and lifelong connections.

In addition to keeping your room door open, it’s crucial to also keep your mind open. This will make it easier for others to relate to you, and help you make friends faster. Remember that everyone is going through drastic changes in this stage of life, and college is a time for young adults to truly discover themselves. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Take a class you’ve always been intimidated to take. This is the time to take risks and make opportunities for yourself!

Be Mindful of Timing

In high school, you’re used to walking from one class to another without needing to worry about going a far distance, or making sure that your classes don’t overlap. They are simply one after another for 7 hours each day. In college though, students get a whole lot more flexibility. With increased flexibility comes a need for strategic planning.

When signing up for classes, carefully map out each one, and consider mandatory discussion and laboratory sessions that may come with each class. Ensure that none overlap, and that there is plenty of time for you to get to the next class if you plan to schedule back-to-back. Avoid overscheduling as you’ll also need time to study, complete assignments and projects, and have time to yourself!

Keep in mind that some students live off-campus or in a dorm room far away from their classes. If this sounds like you, it would be a smart idea to walk to all your classes ahead of time before they start so that you get a feel for where each one is located, and the best paths to take to save time. Gotta drive? Give yourself plenty of time to avoid parking illegally and to find a parking spot.

Finally, if you have plans to visit the counselors or financial aid offices, it’s smart to go on a day where you have a lot of free time in between classes or have already completed classes for the day, as these spots are typically jam-packed during the first week of school.

Lanyard = Freshman

If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and walk around campus screaming “freshman alert!” without actually screaming, we’d advise that you ditch the lanyard attached to your student ID. There’s nothing wrong with being a freshman, but if you want to seem a little more integrated, then consider putting your student ID in your wallet, or at least get a unique lanyard so you aren’t wearing the same exact one as every other freshman.

Use Downtime Wisely

Believe it or not, you’ll have plenty of downtime in college, despite the rigorous classes. It’s up to you to make your time count, so manage wisely! You’ll find that some days may be more packed than others. On the more open days, consider picking up an intramural sport or participating in another extracurricular activity, working out at the gym, socializing, and getting homework done.

If your body is telling you that you need rest, then honor it. Naps can boost productivity when not overdone. The bad thing is though, a lot of students fall into the nap trap where they may become a recluse. This is dangerous especially for freshmen because it’s a critical time to be out and about and putting yourself out there. Remember that the less time you spend inside your dorm room, the more well-rounded and memorable your college experience will be!

Remember to Lock Your Door

Your orientation leader may have briefly mentioned this because it’s a super important safety measure, but it doesn’t hurt to have another reminder. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of locking your door! Doing so when you are away from your dorm room or sleeping not only gives you privacy and peace of mind, it also prevents theft and keeps unwanted intruders out. While college dorms are pretty secure and you think you can trust your hallmates, you just never know when a stranger will come in and possibly steal your belongings. It may sound extreme, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!


Freshman orientation is a fantastic way to learn about campus activities, scheduling classes, basic rules, and the ins and outs of your school, but there are just some things that are either simply glossed over or never mentioned. Hopefully with these pointers, you’ll enter college a little more prepared than you were just coming out of orientation. Bring it on, freshman year!