5 Tips for Attending Family College Orientation

Whether your child is in the 7th grade or about to graduate from high school, you are probably wondering about many issues related to his or her transition to college.Many of your questions may be broad and child-centric: is my child academically prepared for the rigors of college? Will he or she have an adequate support system? How hard will it be for him or her to develop friendships?

One of the best ways to help your student have a successful transition to college is to take part in Family Orientation, which generally occurs in August. It’s your chance to familiarize yourself with the student’s campus, learn about academic and other resources

Here’s what you need to know for the event:

Contact Information for the Hosting Department

The office can be called anything from student affairs to the office of student and family support. Contact the office as soon as you can for the official date of the event, how to prepare, parking information, etc. You’ll also want suggestions for where to stay if traveling from outside of the area.

What to Expect

Just like with student orientation information varies quite a bit from campus-to-campus. Thus, it’s important to ask exactly what happens. Will you get a tour? Which offices will be present? Are there other activities planned for the weekend? You may want to do additional visits while on campus such as visiting with career services, student affairs, the on campus credit union or financial counseling office, and public safety. All these offices can advice you on how to be the best supportive but not overly intrusive parent to your college student. You will want to call each office to make appointments.

Use Virtual Resources

The virtual era is winding down. However, virtual orientations still exist. Before booking a visit to attend family orientation, make sure it isn’t virtual. Even if it’s in person, you should use virtual resources such as campus tours and on campus office websites to learn more about the school before visiting.

Prepare Questions

You have one weekend to set up a 4-year relationship with the school, and support for your student on campus. Make it count. Find out safety issues such as what they should do in an emergency. Ask about on campus activities so you can plan budgets. Ask about academic tutoring. Ask about mental health and other services. Also, ask about things specific to your student. For instance, where they might rent outdoor equipment.

Plan a Vacation

We’re proud to say at college parents, we’re YOUR advocate. College parents are experiencing a transition, too. Stay in a nice hotel on your visit. Ask neighboring hotels about discounts for college parents. Plan an activity or two for yourselves. If your student is going to school in a cool city, seek out new activities each time. And stay tuned for college parent trips in different cities we’ll post here. Here’s a fun example we did for UC Berkeley with VW buses.