For many, orientation week turns out to be the best part of freshman year. No homework, no parents, new environment, new friends, parties, parties and yet more parties! Besides the fun and games, you will be registering for classes, taking placement exams and finding out where you fit into your new home.

Here are tips to help make your orientation experience more fun and, hopefully, more fruitful as well. Not all schools have the same type of orientation. Some may be for three days, others a week. Some might be right in the middle of summer, others just before school starts. Moreover, the orientation activities will be different at each college.

Meet as many students as possible

Orientation is perhaps the only time when nearly all outside pressures are placed on hold. You won’t have any homework or jobs to think about. Take advantage of this opportunity and try to make as many new friends as possible. Most of the people you meet will be just as anxious to make new acquaintances as you are.


Explore the campus

One of the best things to do once you arrive on campus is to round up some new acquaintances and take your own personal tour of the campus and surrounding city. A guided tour will only give you a superficial glimpse of the place where you will be spending the next four years.

When you go on your own exploration jaunt, look for the grease spots and unique eateries. These may come in handy later in the fall as an alternative to univer­sity food service. If you can, ask some older students about the best places to visit. They will usually have a pretty good idea of where students hang out.

Sample the night life at your college


Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself in your room. The tremendous amount of hard work you will have to put in to pay and earn for your college will anyway ensure that! Much of col­lege life is a social affair and it would be a shame to ignore that reality during your orien­tation.

Attend workshops and take exams

Your orientation pamphlet will undoubtedly be filled with activities and lectures which could take up your entire day. Some of these work­shops and/or lectures may prove worthwhile but it would be a mistake to try and attend each one at the expense of not meeting people. At­tend the lectures that seem to be most interest­ing and don’t worry about the rest.

In addition, don’t forget to take the necessary placement exams in Math, English, foreign languages, Chemistry and the like. If you plan on taking upper-level courses, some schools require you to pass the placement tests in these areas. Should you study for these exams? Well, Yes. Study a bit and you’ll be better off. Give it your best shot and you’ll probably end up where you belong.


Choosing courses

Don’t overburden yourself

For most students, the first quarter of Fresh­man Year marks a time of adjustment. Every freshman is bombarded with a host of acquain­tances, activities and new responsibilities. For these reasons, overburdening yourself with a gigantic course load is foolish. You will have plenty of time to take many of the classes listed on the time schedule during later semesters. At the same time, don’t take such a light course load that you won’t be challenged.

Perhaps the best idea, then, is to take an average course load which amounts to 15 units or credits at most colleges. This way, while you will not seriously overburden yourself, you will also be able to gauge how much time you need to study during an average 15-unit semester.


Always take enough units so that if you drop a course (perhaps one that you are failing), you will not have to go on academic probation. Many schools put a student on academic pro­bation if he or she takes 9 units or less. Thus, it is a good idea to always sign up for 15 units or more, so you can drop one 5-unit class, if nec­essary.

Choose professors, not titles

As every academic veteran will attest, it is the professor who makes a course not the other way around. Find out who the best professors are and take their classes, especially if they are in your field. Even if they are not in your field, try to get into classes with the best teachers. But, remember, simply because someone is a Nobel Laureate does not automatically make him or her great lecturer or teacher. Sign up for the best teaching professors, not the best researchers.

First things first


Don’t wait around until Senior Year to fulfill distribution or language requirements. While still a freshman, experiment with a variety of courses. Part of your freshman course-list should include distribution requirements and/or language requirements. Come the last quarter of Senior Year and you are not going to be sitting in a Spanish class when you have 15 units of your major to complete. Besides, university distribution requirements often turn out to be interesting courses which may lead your education into a totally different direction.

Take help from your seniors

When choosing courses, there are a multitude of people whom you can consult. You will probably be assigned an advisor whom you will meet with on a regular basis to discuss course plans. The only problem is that these advisors often do not have a ‘pulse’ on which are the best courses and who are the best teachers.

Older students in your dorm or Greek house will be able to give you more of the inside scoop on many of the classes you are considering. They can tell you who the interesting professors are and who the duds. Ask as many older students as possible. They will be flattered that someone considers their opinion worth seeking.


If you have any problems…

Many larger schools are now letting students register by touch-tone telephone and have computer terminals that can answer common queries. So when asking for some help or in­structions of a routine query nature, you will probably be directed towards computer-based assistance.

While this often simplifies the proc­ess, it is not very popular with the average Asian student who has little familiarity with the cold, impersonal, pre-recorded computer message. Don’t hesitate to call the registrar’s office if you have a problem. This applies to any concern you may have regarding registration. Don’t wait until classes begin to figure out that you are not enrolled in any of the courses.