Campus and Department Orientation
Campus and Department Orientation

Orientation programs for new students are offered at virtually every college and university throughout the United States. The program itself may take on many forms and cover different topics, but the purpose is the same: to ease your transition to a new place. Sometimes there will be a campus or department orientation program and a separate program especially designed for international students, scheduled so as not to be in conflict with each other. At some schools these programs may be mandatory, but whether mandatory or optional, they are important and valuable opportunities for you, even if this is not your first visit to the United States. Frequently, orientation programs provide information that won't be as easily obtained later on.

Some campus-based orientation programs may require that you pay a fee. In general, the fee covers the costs of program materials, refreshments, staff support, and other expenses. You may be asked to pay the fee ahead of time or find it included as part of your total student bill.

You may have the opportunity to participate in an orientation program about U.S. colleges and universities while you are still in your home country. If such a program is available to you, by all means participate. These programs frequently have specific relevance for students from your country. Campus-based orientation programs, even when not mandatory, provide the best possible introduction to your U.S. institution and can help relieve much of the anxiety you may have about being in a new place.
Some of the things you might do at a typical campus or department orientation program include the following
  • meet other students to establish friendships and reduce possible loneliness or anxiety;
  • learn your school's expectations for your intellectual and personal growth;
  • become familiar with your new school and the local community;
  • move into your on-campus or off-campus residence;
  • speak with professors and academic advisers regarding course placement and selection;
  • obtain training in the use of the campus library and computer services, including electronic mail;
  • register for courses.
At an orientation program for international students, you might do any of the following
  • meet other students from your own country and from around the world;
  • receive information about important U.S. Immigration regulations with which you must comply;
  • obtain a U.S. Social Security Number (needed for U.S. bank accounts and for employment, including on-campus employment);
  • have your passport and visa documents copied; have your visa documents signed;
  • learn about the U.S. system of higher education and how to be successful in that system;
  • obtain advice on personal safety, health and accident insurance, and wellness;
  • take a guided tour of the local area and open a bank account;
  • sit for an English proficiency examination;
  • learn about U.S. culture and social and personal relationships in the United States;
  • receive information on services and programs provided by the school for international students.