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University Orientation Guide

Wed, 07/29/2020 Zhou Mei An
University Orientation Guide

Classes are rarely the priority during the first week of university. Instead, new students are bustling about to get to know the campus, meet new people, and settle into the next phase of their academic career. This whirlwind of activity can be as disorientating as it is dazzling, so it is very important to keep a steady head through the events.

Normally, universities hold an Orientation Week, where clubs and classes hold presentations and activities to get “freshies” involved. While this is normally a real-time event, most campuses have gone digital this year for obvious reasons.

In celebration of the start of the Academic Year, we have prepared a guide to making the most of your O-week. Get yourself properly oriented, and have a blast!


1.    Register yourself

Register early to avoid missing out on important dates and information. Most universities have an “onboarding” programme that walks you through the orientation week, which you would do well to read before anything else.

Registration is doubly important in the current digital environment, as almost all activities require registration to enter. It’s a good idea to get your university email and particulars set up early so that you can apply for whatever you’re interested in.


2.    Plan your Orientation week

A lot of stuff is happening during orientation. A LOT. So if you don’t prioritise what you want to do, or plan your days properly, there’s a high chance you’ll miss out on that seminar you wanted to hear or that activity you wanted to watch. Also, classes open for registration before or during orientation, so make sure you have signed up for the important ones!


3.    Find out essential services and school resources

It’s essential that you know where to go for help when you need it. Trawl through your university website for the relevant essentials like locations, opening hours, email addresses and helplines.

As a minimum, find out about:

·        Libraries

·        Career development

·        Student help or student services

·        Mental health resources

·        Financial services

You don’t want to be frantically searching for a number or business card when you’re in trouble. Prepare early and rest easy.


4.    Explore classes and seminars

A key part of orientation week is the “open classes” many professors hold, where you get to experience what their course offerings are. Don’t just focus on core modules or your interests, and try to “sample” the many offerings out there – you might just find your next elective or a lecturer you really want to learn from!

Also, keep one or two spots in your schedule free for a campus tour or introductory presentation. These tend to happen only during orientation week, and are a great way to get to know the campus and the people in it. (This author fondly remembers “An Introduction to Academic Writing”, a two-hour lecture during O-week that saved her grade in years to come.)


5.   Ask questions

Speaking of maximising your gains during orientation… Talk, talk and talk! As a new student, no question is too stupid to ask and no fact too trivial to leave out. Also, there will be a variety of administrative staff, lecturers, seniors and students on-hand to answer your questions, so this is no time to be shy.

As a bonus, you’ll probably make some friends too. Everyone is getting to know others during orientation week, so it’s a great opportunity to strike up conversations, exchanges contacts, and just hang out. (Maybe digitally, this time round.)


6.    Check out the clubs and services

One of the highlights of university is the extensive range of clubs. You’re no longer confined to whatever CCAs your JC had, most universities have a club for just about anything and everything. (Examples including Chocolate Making, Robotics, and even Sleeping.)

Of course, if you have an interest you wish to pursue your decision is pretty much set. But for those of us looking around, we recommend trying out as many clubs as strikes your fancy and seeing if you’re interested in going further with them. And if you’re studying overseas, your university’s Singaporean Student Association is a great place to start.

Orientation week marks your memorable entrance into university life. Get your feet wet and have a blast!


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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