April 19, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The UC Berkeley campus is hosting Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) this year from August 15 to 22, 2017, and there are opportunities for faculty to welcome our new class.

GBO replaces the brief Cal Student Orientation (CalSO) sessions that used to occur throughout the summer. With CalSO, some students were unable to make the extra trip to the Bay Area, and thus missed out on an important part of their orientation experience. The new GBO program offers all 8,500+ incoming undergraduate students the same opportunity to participate together.

This new orientation model has been designed to welcome undergraduate students into the Berkeley scholarly community and lay the foundation for fostering each student’s intellectual identity; to learn about academic requirements and campus resources; to create opportunities for new students to engage with each other and the campus community; and to build community.

As faculty, you are important partners in welcoming our students during GBO, which begins on Tuesday, August 15. Your presence and involvement as a faculty member during GBO will signal to new students the priority we place on their academic growth, as you — and the academic rigor that you foster — are why many of our new students chose UC Berkeley over other opportunities. In particular, the GBO schedule dedicates specific days and time blocks to activities conducted at undergraduate colleges and schools.

To learn about how you may become involved, please visit: orientation.berkeley.edu/faculty-involvement

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions about this new orientation model. If you have additional questions, please contact Chrissy Roth-Francis, director of New Student Services, by phone: 510-642-7733 or by email: nss@berkeley.edu.

Thank you for your support of Golden Bear Orientation.



Carol Christ
Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Golden Bear Orientation Steering Committee:
Cathy Koshland (co-chair), Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education
Steve Sutton (co-chair), Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Na’ilah Nasir, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion
Bob Jacobsen, Dean, Undergraduate Studies, College of Letters and Science
Jennifer Wolch, Dean, College of Environmental Design


Note: For additional information, please visit: orientation.berkeley.edu/faqs


Q: What is the Golden Bear Experience?

The Golden Bear Experience encapsulates all elements of preparing new students for their arrival to Berkeley, from the time they submit their Statement of Intent to Register until they are on campus. The main components of the Golden Bear Experience are:

  • Golden Bear Advising: Online advising modules that students complete throughout the summer. Golden Bear Advising guides students through understanding academic requirements, how to select the appropriate courses, and how to build their first-semester class schedule.

  • Golden Bear Prep: Online modules providing a comprehensive overview of UC Berkeley and overall transition to campus. Students will be introduced to Berkeley’s traditions, safety/wellness, diversity, and community.

  • Golden Bear Orientation: The weeklong on-campus orientation from August 15–-22.

  • Getting Your Bearings: A collection of events sponsored by campus departments and student organizations from August 23–-September 9.


Q: What are the costs and benefits of Golden Bear Experience and Golden Bear Orientation?

The New Student Programming and Orientation Fee of $475 covers a comprehensive orientation experience, beginning even before students come to campus and continuing several weeks after classes begin. This fee covers costs for all components of the Golden Bear Experience: Golden Bear Advising, Golden Bear Prep, Golden Bear Orientation, and Getting Yyour Bearings. One-third of the fee ($157 of every $475) will be returned directly to students as financial aid, meaning low-income students won't pay anything out of pocket.

The one-time fee of $475 is comparable to orientation fees at other institutions. The former CalSO fee ranged from $210 to $295 for a shorter, one- to two-day orientation and did not include the new programs of Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep.

The on-campus portion of the Golden Bear Experience, Golden Bear Orientation, takes place at the start of the semester, allowing Central Valley, Southern California, out-of-state, and international students to participate in this important program. Students will save money and time, as they no longer need to make an additional trip to campus (under CalSO, students needed to come to campus in the summer and then back again for the academic term).


Q: What are the goals of the Golden Bear Experience?

The overarching goals of the Golden Bear Experience are to:

  • welcome new students into UC Berkeley’s scholarly community and lay the foundation for fostering their intellectual identity

  • create opportunities for participants to gain an understanding of academic requirements

  • create opportunities for participants to connect with university and college resources, services, and support structures

  • create opportunities for participants to engage with campus traditions and the range of UC Berkeley’s unique cultural communities

  • create opportunities for participants to engage with their peers and the broader campus community

  • set the path for a lifelong relationship with the campus


Q: How much time is spent on academics versus other activities?

There are three major thematic components to the entire Golden Bear Experience:

1. Academics

Academics (as a general topic; tutoring and resources, for example) and  academic advising (time spent with advisers and on class enrollment) is covered in the Golden Bear Experience.
The first component, happening online, is called Golden Bear Advising. In Golden Bear Advising, students will communicate with their Academic Adviser; gain an overview of academic resources; and learn how to choose courses, how to enroll, and their graduation requirements.

Golden Bear Advising prepares students prior to their arrival on campus, providing them with a solid foundation to build upon before they arrive for Golden Bear Orientation. 

During the week-long Golden Bear Orientation, students meet their academic adviser in-person, participate in programming planned by each college, and interact with faculty who have volunteered to participate in GBO.

2. Required education

Required education is the same for the Golden Bear Experience as it was in the past, and includes Bear Pact and Think About It (training regarding sexual violence and harassment, alcohol, and mental health).

3. Community-building

In addition to academics, finding a community is a top concern for many incoming students. We want them to feel engaged and included. Golden Bear Orientation focuses broadly on academics, campus resources, and community-building functions.

Getting Your Bearings is a two-week experience (following Golden Bear Orientation) of events sponsored by campus departments and includes social organizations as well as college-specific events.