Virtual Winter Orientation: Transfer Students

ATTENTION: Winter Orientation sessions have now ended. Information about the Summer 2021 Orientation program will be available soon. Questions? Contact New Student and Family Programs at or 703-993-2475. Welcome to Mason!


Welcome to George Mason University and Mason Virtual Orientation! The Transfer Orientation program is designed to help acclimate and transition transfer students to the institution, expose transfer students to the broad educational opportunities now available to them at Mason, and integrate transfer 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 keep orientation programs virtual for Spring 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 student orientation experience will still occur in real-time on the same day as the scheduled program, while other components will be self-paced and can be viewed throughout the semester.  

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 after registering and as the program approaches.  

Below is an overview of the transfer student 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 November 2nd 
  • 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, transfer credits and evaluation, paying for college, and other transfer-specific logistics of being a new student at Mason.  
  • Patriot Preview, Part I should be completed before a student’s scheduled orientation date. 
Step 2: Virtual Orientation Program

Access Information

  • Students will participate in a Virtual Orientation session on their registered date via Blackboard, the university’s learning management tool.
  • Access will be granted to the Blackboard Virtual Orientation course 2-3 days before the selected Orientation session to start reviewing content, completed mandatory presentations, 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

  • For a full outline of the Blackboard Virtual Orientation structure, click here for the Transfer Student Virtual Orientation Checklist.

Complete Before Live Orientation Components

  • Once in Blackboard, students should complete the following sections as soon as they received access to the system and before their live Academic Advising & Course Registration sessions:
    • Welcome to Virtual Orientation – an overview of orientation and how to use  Blackboard
    • REQUIRED Orientation Presentations – 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.
      • Students should set aside approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete this content.
    • Learning More About Your Academic College – important overview of college-specific information that is essential to know and understand before Academic Advising appointments

Live Orientation Components (arrive on-time)

  • College 101 Session, 1:00pm-1:30pm EST* 
    • Meeting with College-Specific Representatives to learn more about the culture, policies, procedures, and support systems within the academic college
      • Students will transition to Academic Advising once the presentation is completed
  • Academic Advising, 1:30pm-3:00pm EST* 
    • Meeting with Academic Advisors to learn more and ask questions about major requirements and major-specific academic plans
      • Students will transition to Course Registration once advising is completed
  • Course Registration, 3:00-5:00pm EST*
    • Learn how to register for classes and get support during that process from Academic Advisors and Patriot Leaders
      • Personalized links to live sessions will be in each student’s Blackboard portal in the Advising & Registration section.
  • For evening sessions, Academic Advising and Course Registration takes place from 6:30-8:30pm EST.* 

*Academic Colleges may divide their time differently, but all components will be covered.

Additional Virtual Orientation Content in Blackboard (self-paced as interested)

  • Important Campus Resource Videos – 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
  • Get Connected with Your Peers section – Information on the 2020-2021 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
  • Common New Student FAQs section – One-stop-shop of all Mason webpages frequently visited by new students, curated by current students
  • NEW: Navigating Mason During COVID-19 – Serve as a hub for information and resources to help students navigate Mason while living through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

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

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. Be sure to check 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, strategies for transferring to Mason successfully, and several tasks to complete before starting the semester.   
Step 4: Post-Orientation Opportunities for Students
  • There will be optional Winter Orientation Student Events where Spring 2021 Orientation participants can join the Patriot Leaders to connect with other new students and learn about how to navigate this “new normal” as an incoming Mason student. Events will be on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 and Friday, January 15, 2021. Information can be found on Mason360, GMU’s student engagement platform.
  • Welcome2Mason is a series 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 virtually and on-campus, as well as build connections with other Mason students.  
    • Due to COVID-19, most of this programming will be virtual, but smaller/socially-distanced events may still take place in-person. 
  • 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! 
Additional Information
  • Check out the 2020-2021 Orientation Guide for comprehensive information about the university and new student resources! 
  • 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 our Spring Family Kick-Off that will take place on Tuesday, January 19th. More information about both opportunities can be found on the Orientation website.
  • 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 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, click here.

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

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