Bonding and Building during College Freshman Orientation

As humdrum as freshman orientation sounds, it might be the most worthwhile activity of your first semester at college. Orientation helps you begin the year with confidence by becoming familiar with the campus and meeting your peers before classes start.

You may be nervous, feeling all alone, and wondering, "What the heck am I doing here?" It'll be your first time living away from home, but that's true for most of the other freshmen you'll see. So take a deep breath, say hello to someone and see what happens.

Orientation activities are great ways to make friends and become familiar with school traditions. There might be a session for all members of your incoming class — a convocation where college officials greet you, charge you with great responsibilities, and remind you that you won't be gathered again in similar fashion until graduation day. A smaller get-together might take place just for freshmen in your degree program or "home college."

And you can certainly expect at least one gathering in your dorm where you'll meet your R.A. (resident adviser or resident assistant) and floormates.

At many of these gatherings, especially those involving your residence hall, you'll likely engage in some form of "ice-breaker" activity — to get to know other students. These events provide one of your first opportunities to try out your new freedoms — you can skip any or all of them, and no one will notice.

Should you skip orientation activities? You won't know until you go, unfortunately. But students say the time is almost always well spent.

All the "silly" activities they make you participate in really help you meet people and get to feel more comfortable in your new environment. The activities are held to get you to drop your defenses and open up. Laughing at yourself may be the best way to do that. As awkward as the ice-breakers can be, they can work magically. By putting students with so much common ground together, orientation helps forge bonds among them.

The friends you make during orientation can be the ones you have for the rest of your life.