It may seem surprising, but not every college offers an orientation for incoming freshmen.

If that’s the case with your school, you could be stressing about adjusting to the unknown elements of your new environment. Luckily there are several things you can do to educate yourself about campus life so you feel more prepared for your first day of freshman year.

Explore on Your Own

Ruth Wilson, a board-certified educational therapist and founder of Huma Education Services, recommends visiting the campus over the summer and creating your own orientation. “Force yourself to walk from the dorms to your [potential] classrooms, the library, the dining hall, financial aid office, the student services office and whatever else is important to you.” Knowing where things are will go a long way in giving you the confidence you need to navigate your first day.

Speak With Students

When you’re on campus for your self-made summer orientation, talk to students. Remember that because it’s summer, your campus will likely be emptier than during the school year, so you may need to do a little more. You’ll also want to be sure the students you speak to are actually full-time students during the year and not just on campus for a summer program. Once you find the right students to approach, Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, a college and career prep service, recommends asking them what you’d want to find out during an orientation. He says, “Ask students you encounter about their views on campus, what they like and dislike, how weather affects campus and what they do in their free time.” Also ask about their experience with the campus medical care and how they get support for any issues they face technological, academic, mental and financial.

Do Online Research

If you can’t visit a campus, or even if you can, there are several digital resources that can make up for a lack of orientation. “Go to the school’s official website,, Wikipedia, Reddit and the school newspaper’s website,” Patel says. “The school’s website will give you insight into major school themes and happenings, while forums, such as your school’s subreddit, can give you answers to questions you didn’t think about.” Student forums for are also a good place for you to ask your own specific questions.

Shampaigne Graves, a certified professional coach, recommends YouTube as a resource. “Search YouTube for campus videos, for videos posted by students or, if you’re interested in joining a club, see what content [the club] posted.” Students create a lot of content online that can give you insight into what your freshman year may be like.

Reach Out to Alumni

Talking to a former student is also a great way to find out about campus life. If you’re not able to visit campus this summer for your own personal orientation, try to find alumni in your hometown and meet them in person. Your school admissions office should be able to facilitate this. Your high school counselor may also be helpful here. According to Wilson, talking to someone who’s familiar with your hometown, especially with your high school, could prove invaluable. They’ll be able to compare campus life with where you grew up and they can speak to the differences between the academic demands in both school settings.

Follow these tips and a nonexistent college orientation won’t be the challenge it may have initially seemed. This research takes some effort, but will be well worth it when you show up your first day feeling prepared for your college experience.