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  NoticeCOVID-19 Updates for 2020-21 Golden Bear Orientationx
The latest updates on the evolving COVID-19 policies and resources for the campus community

GBO 2020 Online Zoom Event

New incoming Fall 2020 students participating in Golden Bear Orientation online events.


To ensure we are able to serve all students, we are transitioning most of the in-person components of Golden Bear Orientation to be online events. Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep have always been online components, and will continue as planned.

For students entering Berkeley in Fall 2020, Golden Bear Orientation was held online from Aug. 20 to 25, 2020. For students with a January 2021 start date, GBO will be held online before the start of classes in January 2021.

Golden Bear Orientation programming encompasses a wide variety of experiences, many of which are essential to occur in person. For this reason, the New Student Services team is committing to serving this incoming class throughout your entire first year. We will continue to review, reach out, and offer programming (both online and in person) throughout the year based on your needs and the ability to hold events safely.

January Online Program: Jan. 14–16, 2021

The new online orientation program that will occur in January prior to the start of classes will include a combination of live and recorded content so that all students — whether in Berkeley or anywhere in the world — can participate. The Golden Bear Orientation program will include opportunities to participate in small groups where you’ll enjoy connecting with fellow students and your Orientation Leader, with lots of opportunities to celebrate being a new Golden Bear.

Prior to GBO, you will receive a virtual introduction to your Orientation Leader — a current Berkeley student who will be your guide through GBO, helping you to explore everything that Berkeley has to offer. To provide a greater sense of community, you’ll be assigned to a small group of fellow incoming students who will meet together throughout GBO.

During GBO, each day there will be meetings with your small group and your Orientation Leader, lots of break time, virtual socials, community building, and resource sharing.

Q: As a spring 2021 start student, what will that experience look like for me?

A: In light of COVID-19 and public health guidance, Chancellor Carol Christ announced that for the spring semester, almost all academic offerings, including those with in-person instructional activities, will be delivered remotely. For more information, visit the Registrar’s Office FAQs page. Students will not be required to take in-person classes or to be present on campus for the spring semester. Although limited campus housing is available for students who need it, students are advised to live and learn from home if possible. We will keep you informed on important dates and deadlines; make sure to frequently check your Berkeley email and CalCentral.

Q: Is Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) in person?

A: January 2021 Golden Bear Orientation programs will be offered online for new incoming students. Golden Bear Orientation programming encompasses a wide variety of experiences, many of which are essential to occur in person. For this reason, the New Student Services team is committing to serving this incoming class throughout your entire first year. This means that programs best delivered in person may occur later in the year.

Q: Do I have to participate in programs in person?

A: No! All GBO events in January will take place online. It is possible that in-person events will be held later in the year, depending on public health conditions.

Q: I don’t know where I am living this fall/spring, what does that mean for me and GBO?

A: Regardless of where you choose to live, New Student Services is committed to facilitating your transition to UC Berkeley. GBO will host online programming for all new students in January. That being said, we hope to serve you from now until the time you choose to come to campus, so you may be able to attend in-person programming later if you choose to stay remote this spring. Continue to check your Berkeley email and CalCentral account for updates regarding in person programming.

Q: What technology do I need to participate in GBO/UC Berkeley resources? If I don’t have those resources, how can I engage?

A: Participating in GBO will not require any technology or tools other than a computer and internet access. Our goal is to set you up for success beyond GBO. UC Berkeley has frequently used Zoom conferencing to host classes. The Student Technology Equity Program (STEP) will lend and mail students required technology at no cost. Students are invited to apply for STEP on a rolling basis; to learn more, please visit the STEP website.

Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted me/my family/my community- I don’t know how I will be able to engage in GBO programs and/or other experiences in the spring semester?

A: We are designing GBO with the intention that most programming can be completed on your own time according to your schedule. If you believe you will not be able to engage with GBO due to your circumstances, reach out to New Student Services as soon as possible. More information about this process can be found on the Policies page of our website.

Q: Will I be expected to be on a computer/my phone all day?

A: No, we recognize that being in an online setting is not the same as being in person. There are challenges with being in an online setting for long periods of time, so we are building Golden Bear Orientation with that in mind. There will be a meeting with your small group led by an Orientation Leader each day at a specific time, but the majority of all other content will either be available to view at your leisure and/or optional based on your interests. If you were to participate in all online programs in one day (including small group meetings, key programs and optional events), it would last for no more than five to six hours per day.

Q: How will I be connected to resources if some programs are online?

A: You will be introduced to resources at Berkeley through Golden Bear Prep and most campus departments have adopted their services to be accessible online. We plan to display as many resources as possible during the week of GBO as campus departments continue to figure out how they can accommodate all students.

Q: How will I find community as a new student?

A: We know that building community is essential to success at Berkeley and new students’ first couple semesters are extremely important for building their community. In addition to offering a fun array of community-building activities as part of GBO, we are actively exploring different ways to help connect students with their peers and engage with their co-curricular interests. Please visit Student Affairs’ Find Your Place article for ideas on how to find community.

Q: If I decide not to live in Berkeley, how will GBO programs meet my needs (especially in different time zones)?

A: We will make all programming and discussion accessible, regardless of where you are. There may be some live discussions or events that occur during the week of GBO, but we will choose timings that accommodate the most time zones for these events and will share recordings of programming so you can watch them on your own time.

Q: How will I be connected to current UC Berkeley students? How will I be connected to other new students?

A: During GBO, we plan to have multiple opportunities for you to learn from the experiences of current UC Berkeley students through videos and online panels. A key component of GBO is the small group experience led by Orientation Leaders (OLs). OLs are continuing students who are volunteering their time to help make your transition to Berkeley smooth.They will guide you and a small group of fellow incoming students through programs during GBO. Your small group will consist of other incoming students, either first years or transfers depending on your incoming status.

Q: What does it mean when the New Student Services team says it is “committing to serving this incoming class throughout the entire first year”?

A: When reviewing programming for this spring, we want to provide the full expanse of programs as well as honor the unique environment of online learning. To do that and balance your safety, we are working to expand program offerings throughout the year. We will continue to reach out, check in with your needs, and highlight ways to engage throughout the year.

Q: I have questions about housing, course enrollment, financial aid, etc. Who do I talk to and how?

A: For any specific questions you have, feel free to email Our NSS Representatives will be happy to refer you to the right resources based on your needs! While we may not be the main point of contact, we focus on helping students connect with resources that they will utilize throughout their entire Berkeley career.

Q: Based on the campus plans, I am interested in deferring my enrollment. Can I do that?

A:. Any requests to defer your enrollment must be submitted and approved by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Approvals could come with additional conditions of admissions and/or steps to take in order to secure your enrollment. Be sure to check both your Berkeley email and the email you used when applying.

Q: I don’t have reliable access to technology. Will I still be able to participate in GBO?

A: Please email and we will work with you to meet your specific needs. Campus resources, like the Student Technology Fund, are committed to connecting students to their technology needs. Students are invited to apply for STEP on a rolling basis; to learn more, please visit the STEP website.

Q: Is there a cost associated with Golden Bear Orientation?

A: Yes, all new students are required to pay the New Student Programming Fee of $380. Please see the Policies page for more details.