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07-Oct-2016 17:28

And even if your child is going to a community college and living at home, going to orientation sends an important message to your child that his college education matters to you.

Up until a decade ago, most college orientation sessions were directed at students.

Now it’s a rare school that doesn’t offer parent orientation and 10% do sibling programs for families, who don’t want to leave younger children at home.

At Boston University and UCLA, for example, younger siblings sport campus T-shirts and do arts and crafts activities. Holyoke does a “how to apply to college” session for teen siblings too.

Beginning and ending sessions tend to be done together, but most of the activities and panel discussions are conducted separately.

On the other hand, an end of summer orientation means just one trip to college, not two. And, because it makes the dropping-off process more gradual, some parents find the leave-taking easier to bear.

Don't expect to spend a lot of time with your child at orientation.

Orientation usually includes tours of the campus and residence halls; panel discussions on academic and student life; small group sessions on topics such as financial aid and study abroad programs; an information fair with representatives from various campus organizations; placement exams for math, English and foreign languages; and a chance to register for classes with help from a peer counselor or staff advisor. For many students, it’s a chance to meet new classmates-to-be and even find a roommate.

For parents, it's also a golden opportunity to scout out textbook options, residence life extras and nearby coffeehouses, bakeries and restaurants - information they'll need down the road.