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Orientation Angst--Did the Chosen School Lose Luster?

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,628 Senior Member
edited June 2012 in Parents Forum
This morning I spoke with a mother whose frosh-to-be son recently returned from orientation at his college of choice. Well, at least it was his college of choice until the orientation junket.

He didn't have an awful time, the mom told me, and he's not ready to pull the plug on his decision, but he was definitely disappointed. The main complaint: "All I met were nerds."

Well, interestingly enough, the Princeton Review book does send out a nerd alert for this boy's school, but--on the other hand--it's a public university with more than 20,000 students, so there must be someone around without a pocket protector.

Yet the issue here isn't the nerd count on that particular campus, but whether other parents out there have been in a similar situation, and, if so, how did you advise your kids? Were any of them so disillusioned that they wanted to make other plans? If they did matriculate in the fall, was the orientation angst largely unfounded?
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on

Replies to: Orientation Angst--Did the Chosen School Lose Luster?

  • horsegirl1050horsegirl1050 Registered User Posts: 380 Member
    I had a similar experience when I attended orientation last year....I ultimately ended up transferring.

    I think orientation gives a much more complete look at what a school (and freshman year) is like, much more so than a regular campus visit. I remember coming home from orientation and just feeling like I visited a totally different school than I originally chose.
  • my-3-sonsmy-3-sons Registered User Posts: 2,784 Senior Member
    Some schools, S's included, schedule orientation sessions by majors. This student may only have seen a high percentage of kids majoring in the more "nerdy" fields and not a true representation of the whole student population. I can say this as the mom of an engineering kid, although not a nerd. ;)
  • thedallesthedalles Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    An interesting situation in our familywas that the actual school experience did not live up to the enthusiasm and positive experience of orientation for quite a while.
  • ebeeeeeebeeeee Registered User Posts: 5,199 Senior Member
    At DS's orientation parents were housed across campus from students. They were put in with random roommates....we went our separate ways to get settled in and DS turned me down cold on meeting up for dinner. He hung out in the room most of the night waiting for the random roommate who never showed...was bored and kept calling me but was unwilling to leave the room to meet me.
    The orientation was great for getting class registration, meeting financial aid people, and eventually he also met up with his freshman roommate but the first night was a downer.
    Orientation is not representative of freshman year.. in our experience. He went on to have a great freshman year and is in his third year now. YMMV.
  • heartbrokenheartbroken Registered User Posts: 33 New Member
    My D loved her orientation but was not thrilled with the school freshman year. Perhaps the snow, which was missing in the summer, had a lot to do with it (since she is a Southern Californian going to school in the midwest).
  • drzhivagodrzhivago Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    my-3-sons, we are off to engineering orientation next week and I am curious to see what my non-nerdy son will have to say. One of the main reasons he chose this school was that it has a well-rounded student body ...
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    S2 had his Orientation last week. He decribed it as "boring but not too bad". In spite of that description, he seemed fairly upbeat when telling us about everything he did there. All the free stuff they gave the kids really helped,lol.
    We had visited the sch. last winter after he was accepted.

    The one I was really worried about was S's friend/roommate. He never got the opportunity to visit the school after acceptance. We invited him to go with us but he couldn't work it out with his work schedule. So Friend of S had never laid eyes on the campus until Orientation. I was holding my breath. Luckily, S came home and said Friend/roommate loved it...exhale.
  • abasketabasket Registered User Posts: 16,654 Senior Member
    Maybe expectations for orientation are too high. Orientation tends to be highly structured and for an independent student who is looking forward to life on his own that may be a turn off. While there should be some fun involved, there is a lot of "business" to take care of at orientation - not the same as walking around a campus with other not-newbies and the day to day college life routine.

    As far as the student population, orientation can also be tough - may be one of the first times new students are brought together in a large group - everyone may have their guard up to show off their place - whether the smart student, the jock, the party person, whatever - a natural reaction of people in a new situation.

    I hope your friends S can resolve his uncertainty!
  • originaloogoriginaloog Registered User Posts: 2,645 Senior Member
    The campus tour and presentation is a sales pitch pure and simple. At orientation reality comes to the fore. Wanna take that nifty Freshman Seminar course Living in Cyberspace? Fugettaboutit, closed out. The only recitation section open in the first semester econ class you must take is at 8am. The foray into the dining hall that first morning among a sea of unfamiliar faces raised your angst to new heights. The walk across the grassy quad on a perfect spring morning is replaced by a spring during and afternoon thunder storm. And the suite style residence hall you toured is now a distant memory. You're in a 60's dorm with the showers/bath room fifty feet down the hall.
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    Another thing about Orientation is that lots of kids (not mine) are accompanied by their parent(s) and so probably tend to act a little differently than when they are there on their own. S estimated about half the kids at his Orientation session had a least one parent. Also S's big state u. was offering 8 different Orientation sessions so the kids met at Orientation are only a fraction of the new incoming class.

    I hope the kid the OP refers to will find a much different atmosphere when he arrives in Aug.
  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 Registered User Posts: 7,532 Senior Member
    My S thought orientation was kind of lame, but he loved his freshman year. He's just not into the "rah-rah" kind of stuff that orientation has.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,628 Senior Member
    Another thing about Orientation is that lots of kids (not mine) are accompanied by their parent(s) and so probably tend to act a little differently than when they are there on their own.
    I hope the kid the OP refers to will find a much different atmosphere when he arrives in Aug.

    I don't have any official stats on this, but it seems to me that more colleges than ever before are holding their orientation sessions (and often several of them, as PackMom and others have noted) during the summer.

    In my (ancient) era, orientation more typically took place right at the beginning of the school year, with frosh arriving on campus several days before the majority of upperclassmen. This is still true at many schools, of course, and I wonder if these term-time orientations are preferable to the summer stints. For starters, the parents usually only hang around for the first day or two, when there are special receptions (etc.) for them, and then they take off. Also, students get to meet their actual roommates and set up their rooms, so it makes it easier to approach the orientation from a "this-is-the-real-deal" perspective.

    I suppose that there are also pluses to the earlier orientations, but I think that the term-time sessions may be more conducive to a strong start. Other thoughts?
  • gladmomgladmom Registered User Posts: 810 Member
    My Ss orientation is the week before classes start, and I am very grateful for it because he will be on the west coast, and he won't have to make an extra, expensive trip. Parents only have activities scheduled for them on move-in day, and you are expected to say good-bye in late afternoon of that day. We'll leave that night.

    I have no idea how he'll feel about his orientation, but he'll be living in his own dorm room with his assigned roommate. The students will have a week to sort everything out and should be feeling pretty comfortable on campus before classes start. There are quite a few scheduled activities for them, but plenty of free time, too. I'll report in September how my S felt about it.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,628 Senior Member
    My Ss orientation is the week before classes start, and I am very grateful for it because he will be on the west coast, and he won't have to make an extra, expensive trip.

    Those are the orientation schedules that I remember. As you point out, aside from the other assorted drawbacks of mid-summer orientations, the airfare/travel-expense issue can be a biggie. In my day, it was typically the public universities, which drew a largely local student body, that held those sessions in the summer. But today, with many colleges and universities attracting applicants from across the country (and even from across the oceans) the summer orientations strike me as potentially pricey and impractical.
  • cmbmomcmbmom Registered User Posts: 718 Member
    Last year our daughter attended Freshman Orientation (2 days) in June and a parent was required to be there. We were together for meals only. There were evening social activities for the students and I opted to leave right after dinner of day one. When I returned in the AM to meet her for breakfast she was in tears. The girl she was supposed to room with for the year had changed her mind. The girl she was rooming with for Orientation did not speak to her, or anyone else, at all. The evening social activities were "dumb." She begged me to take her home right then and there, I refused and she stuck it out for the rest of the day which mainly was registering for classes based on placement tests taken on day 1.

    I agree that the expectations for Orientation are too high. Unfortunately when she arrived in August it was 2 or 3 more days of just "dumb" Freshman activities. Freshman year was "okay," and she is going back but probably only for this year.
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