I have been accepted to my first choice and I am planning to attend. Is it still essential to go to admitted students day or is that just for people who aren't sure if they want to go to a certain school? Also, how important is it for me to go to an optional summer orientation? My parents prefer not to spend the travel money on these events so I will only go to these things if you think it's important.
Attending an Admitted Students Day can be a great way to rub elbows with prospective classmates (although that cool guy you bonded with at the salad bar may actually end up at a different school) and to eyeball the bathrooms in the dorm you plan to request. But even so, these events are mainly designed for students who haven't yet made a final choice and thus they're certainly not mandatory for those, like you, who have. So attending an Admitted Students Day could be fun but not necessary if you're already sure you'll be enrolling.
An optional summer orientation, on the other hand, can be more valuable, although it's not an imperative either. But if you think you won't attend the orientation, you should try to find out what you will be missing. For instance, if new students register for classes then, what protocol is in place for those who can't make it? Often there is an online process that may even include a “meeting" with an advisor, so incoming freshmen who can't get to campus won't lose out. But this is something you need to research.
Orientation schedules commonly include getting-to-know-you games and campus tours -- i.e., nothing you'll really regret skipping. However, they may also provide a chance to obtain your student I.D. card and perhaps even buy books at the book store. And — because each orientation session is usually limited in size — this might expedite such processes. So you should anticipate waiting in longer lines to take care of these tasks in the fall. Orientation leaders are accustomed to answering lots of daily-life questions (“Where do I do my laundry?" “How can I get a gym locker?"), but Resident Advisors expect to answer these questions as well. So assuming you'll be living on campus, don't be shy about speaking up once you meet your R.A.
Many incoming freshmen also use orientation as a time to find potential roommates, if the college accepts housing requests. But the success rate of such quickly-made matches is questionable, and students frequently find that they're just as happy (or happier?) with roommates screened on Facebook or even randomly assigned.
If you want to go to orientation but it's the cost that's keeping you home, you can write to your regional admissions rep to find out if there is any funding available for orientation travel. If your college has a special orientation session for international students, which is scheduled right before the first semester begins, you can inquire about space available for domestic participants, too. (In both of these cases, it's likely that only students with high financial need will be assisted.)
If your college has an online group for incoming first-year students or their parents, it's worthwhile to ask others about the pros and cons of taking a long trek to orientation. Perhaps there are specific advantages that you hadn't considered. But if the timing or finances make the trip difficult, you can rest assured that it's definitely not essential. Although the orientation could be more useful to you than the Admitted Student program, college officials understand that not everyone will be able to attend, and they'll have alternatives in place to welcome new students when they arrive in the fall.
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