Virtual Freshman Orientation

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 make orientation programs virtual for Summer 2021.

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 Orientation experience will still occur live, in real-time, while other components will be self-paced and can be viewed throughout the summer.

Live Virtual Orientation components for Summer 2021 will be divided into two parts with the goal making sure students have all the information they need to be successful while making the content more digestible and reducing screen fatigue. Students will register for Part 1 in the reservation system, but can attend their Part 2 program without pre-registration. 

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 Virtual Freshman Orientation experience with general information about each component.

Step 1 - Patriot Preview Modules
  • Students will gain access to a set of pre-orientation online modules called Patriot Preview starting on May 1st. These are designed to share important Mason information for incoming students.
  • Patriot Preview has a “Before Orientation” section and a “Before Classes Begin” section.
    • Student should complete the Before Orientation section before participating in their Virtual Orientation.
  • The Before Orientation section 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.
  • The Before Classes Begin section will highlight navigating campus, enhancing academic success, student life at Mason, well-being, safety, and several tasks to complete before starting the semester. 
Step 2 - Required Orientation Presentations in Blackboard

Students will gain access to their Virtual Orientation portals two days prior to their selected date and should review several sections, as well as watch a series of REQUIRED Orientation Presentations on topics ranging from the academic experience to essential campus information such as financial aid. These are vital pieces of information from the in-person program.

Students should set aside approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete this task. 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.

More information on the Virtual Orientation system and REQUIRED pre-orientation work is below.

Blackboard Access Information:

  • Students will participate in Virtual Orientation via Blackboard, the university’s learning management tool. Orientation will appear as a Course just like a class will.
  • 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. 
  • Students’ Virtual Orientation course stays in Blackboard for the remainder of their collegiate experience and can be referred back to at any time.

Items to Complete Before Virtual Orientation Begins:

  • Once in Blackboard, students should complete the following sections prior to their live session components in the coming days:
    • Welcome to Virtual Orientation section- an overview of Virtual Orientation and how to use  Blackboard
    • REQUIRED Orientation Presentations section- a series of pre-recorded, mandatory presentations on the most important transition information for new students
      • Your Mason Impact 
      • The Mason Core
      • Academic Integrity
      • Academic Success Resources
      • Funding An Education
      • Living On or Off-Campus (as applicable)
      • Student Rights, Privacy, & Campus Safety
    • Learning More About Your Academic College section – important overview of college-specific information that is essential to know and understand before Academic Advising appointment
Step 3 - Virtual Orientation: Part 1

Live Virtual Orientation components for Summer 2021 will be divided into two parts with the goal making sure you have all the information you need to be successful as a new Mason student while making the content more digestible and reducing screen fatigue.

Virtual Orientation Part 1 is the date students register for in the Orientation Registration portal. Students should arrive on-time to the program and hold 11:00am – 5:30pm on this day. The Virtual Orientation Part 1 schedule overview can be found below:

  • Patriot Welcome, 11:00 – 11:10am EDT
    • Welcome to the Orientation, schedule overview, & housekeeping items for the day
  • COVID-19 & Your College Transition, 11:10 – 11:20am EDT
    • Real-time university updates & information for new students based on the implications of COVID-19
  • Patriot Groups, 11:20am – 12:30pm EDT
    • Small group meeting with a current student leader to provide insights to the Mason student experience and prepare students for their your academic advising experience
  • BREAK, 12:30 – 1:00pm EDT
    • Time provided to students to regroup & refresh themselves before academic advising
  • Academic College Meetings, Advising, & Course Registration, 1:00 – 5:00pm EDT
    • Each academic college will host a College 101 presentation to share things like major requirements and academic support structures, followed by academic advising sessions, and course registration for the fall semester
    • Students will most likely not take this entire time, but should still hold it just in case.
  • Follow-Up Funding An Education Q&A*, 5:00 – 5:30pm EDT
    • Follow-up with Financial Aid and Student Accounts from the Funding An Education video to get any remaining questions answered before the end of the day
    • *NOTE: Students should have already reviewed this video in their Blackboard course prior to attending this session!

Personalized links to live session components will be in each student’s Blackboard portal.

Step 4 - Virtual Orientation: Part 2

Live Virtual Orientation components for Summer 2021 will be divided into two parts with the goal making sure you have all the information you need to be successful as a new Mason student while making the content more digestible and reducing screen fatigue.

Virtual Orientation Part 2 will take place on:

  • June 29th for students who attend a June Part 1 session
  • July 23rd for students who attend a July Part 1 session

As these programs approach, more information will be sent to students via email to prepare.

Unlike Part 1, families are invited to participate with their students. This provides a great opportunity for students and families to have a shared Virtual Orientation experience while also allowing them the ability to divide and conquer to get as much information as possible. Family members should register themselves on the Family Orientation website to receive special instructions.

Participants will be provided short informational videos to review in advance of this session on a special website. This will allow for a more informed experience and the ability to ask more tailored questions based on what they are interested in attending during breakout times.

Students should arrive on-time to the program and hold 5:30pm – 8:00pm on their respective day. The Virtual Orientation Part 2 schedule overview can be found below:

  • Welcome & Program Overview, 5:30 – 5:45pm EDT
    • Welcome to the Orientation, schedule overview, & housekeeping items for the evening
  • Transition Tips & Tricks Panels, 5:45 – 6:10pm EDT
    • Special panels for either students or family members with specific tips about their respective transition processes (separate, as able)
  • Taking Care of Business Breakout Sessions, 6:15 – 6:40pm EDT
    • Offices facilitating important logistical steps in the transition process will provide answers to their top FAQs and facilitate a Q&A session
  • Campus Engagement Breakout Sessions, 6:45 – 7:10pm EDT
    • Offices that provide opportunities to get plugged into campus will share their top ways to get engaged with their resources, events, and services and will facilitate a Q&A session
  • Next Steps for New Students & Families Session, 7:15 – 7:25pm EDT
    • Participants will go through a curated checklist of items they should complete before the semester begins in order to set them up for success
  • Affinity Sessions (as applicable), 7:30 – 8:00pm EDT
    • Participants will have the opportunity to hear from campus department and resources that serve specific student populations in order to learn more about what Mason is like for these respective groups and the services they can take part in
Step 5 - Preamble and Welcome2Mason Programming

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. This programming will take place between August 18 – 21. 
  • Welcome2Mason are the weeks following The Preamble and consists of optional 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. 

More information about both programs can be found at welcome2mason.gmu.edu.

Additional Orientation Resources Available in Blackboard

In each student’s Virtual Orientation Blackboard course, there are several sections that provide useful information for new students and can be viewed based on interest at the pace of the student.

Additional Virtual Orientation Content in Blackboard:

  • Get Connected with Your Peers section – Information on the 2021 Patriot Leader Team and live events that they will host to help students connect with other incoming students and learn about what it is like to be a student at Mason during this unique time 
  • Important Campus Resource Videos 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.
    • Students should browse this section and make a plan to watch videos of note to them.
  • Navigating Mason During COVID-19 section – Serve as a hub for information and resources to help students navigate Mason while living through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Most Visited New Student Websites section – One-stop-shop of all Mason webpages frequently visited by new students, curated by current students

Virtual Orientation Support in Blackboard:

  • Blackboard Troubleshooting 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
Other Important Opportunities & Resources
  • Want to enhance your transition experience even more? Sign up for a Quill Camp today! Quill Camp is an extended orientation experience for incoming students designed to connect students with other incoming students, campus, and the local community based on a student’s interest areas – transition the way you want to! There are many program-types to choose from and they are highly encouraged. Check them out now!
  • Check out the Orientation Guide for comprehensive information about the university and new student resources! The 2021-2022 Orientation Guide is coming soon!
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • Connect with us on social media using #Welcome2Mason and follow our Instagram (@MasonNSFP) and Facebook (New Student and Family Programs)! We will be sharing useful tips about Mason and a student’s first year!
  • For families, New Student and Family Programs has curated a Family Orientation website that provides mirrored information of student content, but from a family lens. Families can also take part in a live Family Orientation program. To register and learn more information about both opportunities, visit the “Family Members” menu at the top of this page.
Orientation Checklists

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

For a full list of items to complete before the 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