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Parents' Guide Asia

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Is your child ready for freshmen orientation?

Colleges are big on first impressions. They work hard to show you who they are on admissions campus tours, info sessions and at accepted student events, and the fun continues in a big way — during freshman orientation.

What goes on at orientation? Is it compulsory to attend? The answers are different from college to college, but here's what you need to know and consider:

Orientation is one of the most important events your child will attend prior to the commencement of their college life. It is a time when they learn about the campus, academic offerings and college activities, take necessary placement exams, connect with advisors and register for classes. Some colleges offer departmental seminars for students to meet professors and learn more about the various schools or majors within the college. Orientation is also a great time for your child to meet and spend time with other students.

Some schools hold several orientations over the first semester, which need to be signed up for in advance. Others may conduct orientation for all students right after the start of the term or move-in day. For orientation that includes registering for classes, it may be advisable to opt for one of the earlier orientations to secure a spot in courses as the popular ones tend to fill up quickly. However, if your child is going overseas to study, the choice may be limited to an orientation closest to move-in day.

Many universities include parents in orientation activities and even offer a programme just for parents while their kids are busy meeting with an advisor, choosing classes, getting familiar with the campus, and meeting new friends. These programmes typically focus on making parents feel more comfortable with where their child will be spending the next four years and helping parents cope with letting go.

Some colleges may charge a fee for students to stay and eat on campus if the orientation is held during a weekend. There may also be a programme fee or an additional fee for family members to attend to offset the cost of facilities and providing refreshments. Again, if the college is far from home, you may have to factor in the travel time and perhaps even include a budget for accommodation.

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