High school edition: What to expect at orientation

Written by Deea Deb

Congratulations, new Lions, you made it to university! The next step in your university journey is attending orientation. If you’re coming to university from high school, you likely don’t know what to expect. 

We caught up with second-year students, Ayyub Hussain and Emilie Saliaj, to talk about their orientation experience, what to expect at orientation and what they learned from it.  

Ayyub Hussain

Like many of you, Hussain and Saliaj didn’t know what to expect at orientation. Both came directly from high school and were anxious about the unknown. So, they did some research.  

“I visited York in the summer and saw the buildings where certain events will be held,” says Hussain, who is studying criminology and professional writing. “I already had my class schedule, so this visit helped me explore my classrooms, Vari Hall, York Lanes, and more. It calmed my culture shock and anxiety.”

Saliaj, who is studying business technology and management, found the campus map very helpful. “Getting a sense of where everything was, made things easier for me at orientation,” she says. 

Pro tip: If you can’t visit the campuses, check out the York University virtual tours on YouTube.

Find out what university life is like

Orientation gives you get a taste of university life. “It put things in perspective and got me excited for university,” says Hussain. “I was able to get a realistic idea of the amount of people that are going to be on campus on the daily. I also realized that I was not alone. So, hang tight!  

Saliaj loved meeting new people at orientation. “You meet people and make friends in the most random ways possible,” she says. So, keep an open mind, and take every opportunity to connect with people.

But don’t be discouraged if you don’t make friends right away

A common expectation of new students is making friends at orientation, which may not always work out. Don’t worry if you find yourself alone during orientation. University is more socially chill than you may expect.

“It was refreshing being exposed to new people and get used to my own company,” says Hussain. “You learn to be self-sufficient at university. Don’t forget to explore the university by yourself, take those amazing selfies and make memories!”  

Pro tip: The most Instagrammable spots on Keele campus are the Stong Pond, Harry Arthurs Common, the Bergeron Centre, the Second Student Centre and outside Osgoode Law Hall.

University is a time to learn about yourself too

Hussain became more comfortable being by himself. “Create your own routines and rituals and find fun things that you enjoy,” he says. “One of my favourite rituals is getting a coffee before class. It’s a vibe!” 

Pro tip: Carry headphones or a book. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a breather, sit down, listen to your favourite music or podcast or read a book.

For a great orientation experience, check out Hussain’s and Saliaj’s extra tips below: 

  1. Make sure to sign up for orientation events on time. They sell out fast! 
  2. Keep your schedule on hand. 
  3. Ask questions. There will be people to help you at orientation.  
  4. Note down important emails, phone numbers and resources. 
  5. Know your Faculty. You will be grouped together with students from the same Faculty.  
  6. Interact with upper-year students from your program. They are a resource too. 
  7. Carry a snack and stay hydrated. 
  8. Be kind to yourself. Be present and have fun!