If freshman orientation is on your calendar, you may be wondering if you’d miss much by skipping it.

The short answer is, yes, you would.

You’d miss your first chance to experience the campus as a college student. You’d miss an official introduction to your school and the final time the college lays out everything you need to know. You’d also miss the social aspect of orientation. It’s a chance to meet people, be excited for your new life and just take in the campus before the busy semester begins.

If you’re still undecided about attending orientation, consider the stories below. These students share how skipping their school’s orientation events impacted their college experience.

Jesse Harrison, University of California, Los Angeles

“I figured I knew the campus well enough and did not need a tour. But freshman orientation was the main way many people got necessary information. Of course, they were told about shortcuts, when to travel to class and what the best eateries around were. They also gave some secret tips that I was not aware of. For instance, they told freshmen that for $50 a quarter, they could receive unlimited free food from the cafeteria. If you did not pay the fee, you had to pay per meal, which could be costly—and which I wound up doing the entire first quarter, racking up hundreds of dollars. I learned it’s important to sit through anything you may think you already know, because you’re very likely to pick up new information.”

Marc Cordon, Emory University, Atlanta

“Orientation at the time seemed campy. I didn’t really want to hear conduct code stuff — it was on the school’s website. I thought the mixers were kind of cheesy. I was just ready to get started, and I wanted to get to know my hallmates. There were things I missed—like things I needed to know toward the end of my sophomore year when I needed to declare a major. But my hallmates ended up telling me what I needed to do, and I was proactive in getting in touch with people and administrators.”

Brittany DiCologero, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire

“I actually did attend my freshman orientation, but there were so many events—Accepted Students Day and other retreats—held earlier that my fellow classmates all attended and I did not. I ended up feeling behind on making friends even though I was at orientation. I regretted not attending those events while I was in school and shortly after, but now I feel like this experience was beneficial for how I grew as a person. I had to learn to deal with uncomfortable situations where I didn’t know anyone else.”

Christopher Lee, University of California, Irvine

“As a college freshman, I aimed to be efficient. I did well in school but wasn’t very engaged in school activities. I only attended mandatory events. I only met with academic advisers once. Give me the directions or checklist, and I’ll figure it out. Over time, however, I learned the value of cultivating relationships with others, be they peers or staff and faculty. So it’s possible that I missed out on valuable connections and friendships [by skipping my freshman orientation]. I wouldn’t say I regret not going, but I’ve attended many more optional events over the years.”

Ultimately, freshman orientation is rarely mandatory and the decision to go will likely be up to you. But like most experiences, you’ll get from college what you put into it.

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