10 Tips to Conduct a Great Student Orientation Program

Hillary Engelman
August 12, 2019
September 19, 2019

Student orientation is your first (and best) opportunity to engage with new students, introduce them to your university’s unique culture, and create the kind of atmosphere that promotes ongoing student involvement and higher retention rates. It can be daunting for students to enroll in a university and leave their familiar environment to embark on the next step in their educational journey. 

A successful orientation will give students confidence that they have all of the information and resources they need to be successful. Here are ten simple ways to build an enriching student orientation program.

1. Share an orientation agenda in advance

Provide the agenda in advance so that students can take time to familiarize themselves with orientation activities and campus events. Given that a majority of these students are digital natives, building a mobile-friendly orientation app might be more effective than paper or emailed agendas. It will keep the agenda at your students’ fingertips and allow you to make updates or announcements real-time.

2. Communicate orientation expectations and benefits

Make sure students know what is expected of them at orientation and provide plenty of notice so they can plan their schedules accordingly. Equally important is to communicate the benefits students will gain by attending. Position your orientation program as a resource to set students up for success and make their transition a smooth one.

3. Create a welcoming and energetic atmosphere

Orientation is an opportunity to make a great first impression with the student body and to introduce them to one another. Strive to make communications upbeat, inclusive, and welcoming to students of all backgrounds.

4. Conduct icebreaker activities

It can be intimidating to enter unfamiliar social situations. Make it easy for students to meet and connect with their advisors and classmates through icebreaker activities and social gatherings. 

5. Promote engagement in college traditions to build community

Nothing builds a sense of belonging faster than feeling part of something timeless. Include new students in fun college traditions throughout your orientation program. Teach students the school fight song, or incorporate the school mascot and branded giveaways in orientation activities.

6. Provide relevant campus resources

Make your orientation program a single source of information and resources for your students. Publish campus maps, safety handbooks, housing guidelines, and other important information so that students feel fully informed of campus policies and amenities before they arrive.

7. Encourage involvement in social events

Student engagement extends beyond orientation weekends. Use software for students as a tool to inform them of social and sporting clubs, special-interest groups, and other opportunities to engage with their peers.

8. Provide ongoing support

Whether registering for classes, managing financial aid, or applying for internships, your students require a high level of continued support to navigate their education experience. Use your orientation app as a platform for ongoing communication and enablement.

9. Establish mentorship opportunities

As part of your commitment to support students, consider using your app to connect students with mentors in their field of study or with upper-classmen who can help guide students through chat or video. 

10. Deliver information through a platform that students will use

It’s no secret that Gen Z prefers to communicate through digital channels. With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, a mobile-friendly orientation app is the most effective way to communicate with the student body before, during, and after your orientation program.