Freshman Orientation 2020

ATTENTION: Registration for Winter Orientation opens on Monday, November 2nd. Winter Orientation sessions for Spring 2021 new students and families will be virtual. More information on the Winter Orientation process is coming soon and will be updated below at that time. Specific details will be included in Orientation confirmation e-mails. Questions? Contact New Student and Family Programs at orientu@gmu.edu or 703-993-2475. Welcome to Mason!


Welcome to George Mason University and Mason Virtual Orientation!
The Freshman Orientation program is designed to help acclimate and transition new students to the institution, expose new students to the broad educational opportunities of Mason, and integrate new students into life at the institution.

With the health and safety of  the university community being paramount and the consideration of local, state, and federal guidance surrounding COVID-19, George Mason has made the decision to move orientation online for Summer 2020.

New Student and Family Programs, along with all of our university partners, are committed to providing new students and their families with a high-quality virtual orientation experience using several online platforms to provide timely and relevant information that is easily accessible while providing personal connections to Mason.

Some components of the virtual student orientation experience will still occur in real-time on the same days as the scheduled in-person program via live feed, while other components will be self-paced and can be viewed throughout the summer.

All specific information surrounding the virtual orientation experience, gaining access to systems, and instructions on how to navigate those systems will be sent to students directly via e-mail.

Below is an overview of the freshman orientation process with general information about each component.

Step 1: Patriot Preview, Part I - Before Orientation
  • Students will gain access to a set of pre-orientation online modules called Patriot Preview starting on May 15th.  
  • Patriot Preview Part I gives information to help prepare students for their orientation experience, including important overviews of their respective academic college as well as information about preparing for academic advising, course registration, paying for college, and other logistics of being a new student at Mason.  
  • It is highly encouraged to complete Patriot Preview Part I before orientation. 
Step 2: Virtual Orientation Program

Access Information

  • Students will participate in a Virtual Orientation session on their registered date in June, July, or August via Blackboard, the university’s learning management tool.
  • Access will be granted to the Blackboard Virtual Orientation course 2 days before the selected Orientation session to start reviewing content and preparing for the live components in the coming days.
  • Students will be updated via e-mail when the Virtual Orientation course is available in Blackboard for their session.  

Virtual Orientation Structure

  • To view the full outline of the Blackboard Virtual Orientation course:
    • Click here for the Freshmen Virtual Orientation Checklist
    • Click here for the Honors Virtual Orientation Checklist

Complete Before Live Orientation Components

  • Once in Blackboard, students should complete the following sections before their live Academic Advising & Small Group sessions:
    • Welcome to Virtual Orientation – an overview of orientation and how to use  Blackboard
    • Preparing for Your First Semester – a series of pre-recorded, mandatory presentations on the most important transition information for new students
      • Each presentation will have a small quiz at the end to test a students’ knowledge of the content shared in the video and signify completion.
    • Learning More About Your Academic College – important overview of college-specific information that is essential to know and understand before Academic Advising appointments

 

Day #1 – Mandatory Live Orientation Components (arrive on-time)

  • Academic Advising, 12:00pm-3:00pm EDT 
    • Meeting with Academic Advisors to learn more and ask questions about major requirements and major-specific academic plans
  • Small Group Session #1, 3:00pm-4:30pm EDT
    • Opportunity to connect with Patriot Leader and other new Patriots while learning about ways to contribute to the Mason community
      • Personalized links to live sessions will be in each student’s Blackboard portal in their respective sections.

Day #2 – Mandatory Live Orientation Components (arrive on-time)

  • Course Registration, 12:00-3:00pm EDT
    • Learn how to register for classes and get support during that process from Academic Advisors and Patriot Leaders
  • Small Group Session #2, 3:30-4:30pm EDT
    • Learn about essential Next Steps for the fall semester, get useful transition tips, and find out how to stay connected to Mason over the summer
      • Personalized links to live sessions will be in each student’s Blackboard portal in their respective sections.

Additional Virtual Orientation Content in Blackboard

  • New Student Resources section – Six categories of videos sharing information about relevant campus resources for new students. This takes the place of in-person components such as Info Sessions and Tabling Fairs.
  • Mason First Year Webpage section – One-stop-shop of all Mason webpages frequently visited by new students, curated by current students

Virtual Orientation Support in Blackboard

  • Learn Blackboard section – An easy troubleshooting guide for the most common Blackboard user issues
  • Virtual Help Desk section – Chat a member of the New Student and Family Programs’ staff with any questions or issues that arise during the Virtual Orientation session

Final Important Notes

  • If information shared throughout orientation is altered or updated in relation to COVID-19, additional content will be added to each student’s Blackboard course in early August. Be sure to check your e-mail regularly for university and additional orientation information during this unprecedented time.  
  • Students’ Virtual Orientation course stays in Blackboard for the remainder of their collegiate experience and can be referred back to at any time.
Step 3: Patriot Preview, Part II - Before Classes Begin

After Orientation

  • Students should log back into Patriot Preview after their virtual orientation session to complete an additional set of post-orientation modules focused on information that is important to know and things that are important to do before classes begin.  
  • These modules will highlight navigating campus, enhancing academic success, student life at Mason, well-being, safety, and several tasks to complete before starting the semester.  
Step 4: Preamble and Welcome2Mason Programming

August 19 – 22, 2020 

  • To assist in the transition to college, Mason offers a series of mandatory and optional programming to help all new students get connected to campus and each other.  
  • The Preamble is a series of mandatory programming that helps new students learn more about Mason values, expands on topics covered at orientation that are essential to student success, and gives students the opportunity to feel more comfortable about navigating Mason.  
  • Welcome2Mason are the weeks following The Preamble and consists of programs and events for all students that they can pick based on their personal interests. These university and student organization led events give students the opportunity to learn how to get more involved on-campus and build connections with other Mason students.  
    • If the fall on-campus schedule is altered due to COVID-19, this series of programming will be adapted to best serve students in their transition virtually and pick up in-person once students arrive to campus.  
Other Key Transition Experiences
  • Students should talk to their academic advisor about taking a University 100 (UNIV100) course. It is more important than ever to participate in opportunities that are built specifically to help support the student transition experience and build special connections to Mason. Taking a University 100 course is a great way to do just that! 
  • A new opportunity being introduced in Fall 2020 is Virtual Learning Communities (VLCs)! VLCs provide a supportive, educational, and exciting experience for students and allow them to make friends who share their passions and interests. With a variety of VLCs to choose from, VLCs make it easier to find connection to the Mason community.
Additional Orientation Information
  • Check out the 2020 Orientation Guide for comprehensive information about the university and new student resources!  
  • New Student and Family Programs is coordinating various live virtual events throughout the summer to provide an opportunity to connect with specific GMU departments and have general questions about Mason answered!
  • We encourage students to stay in touch with their Patriot Leader through the summer! Patriot Leaders will share more information on how to connect with them during their orientation small groups, specifically highlighting Mason360!
  • Connect with us on social media using #Welcome2Mason and follow our Instagram (@MasonNSFP) and Facebook (Orientation@Mason)! We will be sharing useful tips about Mason and a student’s first year! 
Orientation Checklist

For a full list of items to complete before Orientation, click here. 

For a full list of items to complete before the fall semester begins, click here.

Need Assistance?

To view a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Orientation, click here. 

To troubleshoot an issue in Blackboard during Orientation, click here.

To contact New Student and Family Programs, e-mail us at orientu@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2475.

To connect with us during Orientation, send a chat to our Virtual Orientation Help Desk