Virtual Freshman Orientation

Welcome to George Mason University and Mason 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.

For students entering in the Spring 2022 semester, the mandatory Orientation program will be a virtual program with an optional, in-person campus visit event called Explore Mason

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.

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 upon registering.

Below is an overview of the Freshman Orientation experience with general information about each component.

Step 1 - REQUIRED Pre-Orientation Presentations

Students will gain access to their Virtual Orientation portal in a system called Blackboard 24 – 48 hours after they register for their desired Virtual Orientation date. Students 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 to know prior to the live program.

Students should set aside approximately 1 hour and 45 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. Students can complete this in one-sitting or several, as long as they are completed before their live Virtual Orientation program.

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.
    • Instructions on navigating Blackboard will be sent to students in their Orientation registration confirmation email.
    • Access will be granted to the Blackboard Virtual Orientation course 24 – 48 hours after students register for their desired Virtual Orientation date to start reviewing content and preparing for the live components in the coming days. 
    • It is important for students to be familiar with how the Virtual Orientation Blackboard course is set up before participating in live components to be able to easily navigate the system day-of.
    • 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
      • Student Rights, Privacy, & Campus Safety
      • Living On or Off-Campus (as applicable)
      • Parking & Transportation
      • Mason ID Card
      • Mason Dining
    • 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 2 - Pre-Orientation Advising Appointments (if desired)

Freshmen students admitted in Spring 2022 semester have to option to participate in a pre-orientation advising appointment with their academic college if they desire. This is not required, rather an option to chat with an advisor before your Virtual Orientation Program.

STUDENTS ARE STILL REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN THEIR VIRTUAL ORIENTATION LIVE PROGRAM EVEN IF THEY PARTICIPATE IN A PRE-ORIENTATION ADVISING APPOINTMENT.

To gain access to pre-orientation advising information and request an appointment, students must:

  1. Register for a Virtual Orientation live program (starting November 1st)
  2. Complete all videos in the REQUIRED Orientation Presentation section mentioned above. Completing the REQUIRED Orientation presentations in Blackboard will unlock access to Pre-Orientation Advising instructions. To learn more about these videos, see the above section.
  3. Request a pre-orientation advising appointment. Academic colleges and schools will begin fielding pre-orientation advising requests on November 15th. 
Step 3 - Live Virtual Orientation Program

Live Virtual Orientation is the date students register for in the Orientation Registration portal. On that date, students should go to their Virtual Orientation Blackboard course in Blackboard and head to the “LIVE SESSIONS” menu to find their schedule and accompanying session links.

Students should arrive on-time to the program and hold 11:00am – 5:00pm EST on this day. The Virtual Orientation schedule overview can be found below:

  • Patriot Welcome, 11:00 – 11:10am EST
    • Welcome to the Orientation, schedule overview, & housekeeping items for the day
  • New Student COVID Info & Next Steps, 11:10 – 11:20am EST
    • Information on the transition process based on COVID-19 protocols and helpful next steps before the start of the semester
  • Transition Resource Panel, 11:20am – 12:30pm EST
    • Panel experience including the top offices that new students have expressed wanting information from at Virtual Orientation based on survey data
  • BREAK, 12:30 – 1:00pm EST
    • Time provided to students to regroup & refresh themselves before academic advising
  • Academic College Meetings, Advising, & Course Registration, 1:00 – 5:00pm EST
    • 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.

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

Technology Requirements:

In order to access Blackboard and MasonLive email, students will need to set up their Net ID and password.

Students will need access to a Wifi Enabled device with a web browser on their registered virtual date. For the live sessions, we encourage students to use a device with a webcam.

During advising and registration, students may be asked to download documents from the college to reference along with the session, which will be housed in the Blackboard course.

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:

  • 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.
  • Helpful COVID-19 Info & Protocols 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
Optional Explore Mason Campus Visit Event

Explore Mason is an optional campus visit event offered by the office of New Student and Family Programs for students entering Mason in the upcoming Spring 2022 semester. This event is for students who have already registered for Virtual Orientation and desire a supplemental, in-person experience to aid in their transition into the Mason community. 

This event is not Orientation nor replaces the Virtual Orientation experience. 

Explore Mason will take place on Thursday, January 20th & Friday, January 21st, 2022. This event will have a welcome session, large group presentations,breakout sessions, a lunch, and select post-event opportunities such as a campus tour. Students and their guest will largely move through the program together. Check-in for this event will begin at 9am and the formal program will go until 2pm, with optional activities until 5pm EST.

For more information visit, orientation.gmu.edu/explore-mason.

Other Important Opportunities & Resources
  • Welcome2Mason are the weeks following the start of the semester 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 event can be found at welcome2mason.gmu.edu.
  • Check out the 2021-2022 Orientation Guide for comprehensive information about the university and new student resources!
  • Download Mason360 – a must-have app to know what’s happening around campus, where students can find other Patriots with similar interests, and have quick access to important resources that help students navigate their time at Mason.
  • 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. To learn more, 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