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Updated March 28, 2023 to reflect Fall 2023 experience and timeline

What is Golden Bear Orientation?

Golden Bear Orientation is the third phase of the Golden Bear Experience which begins Wednesday, August 16 (Check In) and ends Monday, August 21. We believe there is more to your transition than just registering for classes and taking a tour of campus. GBO reflects the dynamic needs of incoming students and unlike many other institutions, occurs over multiple days immediately before the start of your first semester.


During GBO, new students are placed in groups with two Orientation Leaders, continuing UC Berkeley students, who guide their group through all kinds of events throughout the four day program. Some example events include community bonding, learning about affinity spaces, becoming familiar with resources on campus, and exploring the Bay Area. In these groups, new students are placed with other students who have a similar incoming status (transfer/first year) and housing experience (I.e., being placed in the same group as those dorming in the same building, those who commute to campus, those living off-campus, etc). This gives students the chance to meet other new incoming students, build connections, and find community. Check out the Fall 2023 sample schedule to see the variety of programs offered!


To ensure we are able to serve all students, some of the large-scale components of Golden Bear Orientation will be available to view online after orientation. Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep have always been online components, and will continue as planned. All of the FAQs below are specific to Spring 2023 Golden Bear Orientation. 


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

A: Yes- Fall 2023 will be done in a fully in person format. There may be limited  virtual access to programming such as livestreams and recordings of events, but there is no overall virtual orientation experience. Those who are unable to attend orientation in-person or have extenuating circumstances are encouraged to check out our Policies page of our website and fill out the Golden Bear Orientation Fall 2023: Exemption and Accommodations form by Sunday, July 16. You can reference the emails from New Student Services for details and the GBO Sample Schedule page for updated schedules.

Q: I have unique circumstances that may limit how I am able to engage in GBO programs and/or other experiences. What can NSS do?

A:  If you believe you will not be able to engage with GBO or may need unique accommodations to participate in the program 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: Is there a cost associated with Golden Bear Orientation?

A: Yes, all new students are required to pay the New Student Programming Fee. You will be assessed a fee on your first semester CalCentral bill. The New Student Programming Fee is $475 for incoming Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 undergraduates ($320 for UCEAP students).  If applicable, look at your financial aid package to see if this fee will be covered by financial aid in the form of the “New Student Grant.” If you have financial concerns related to the New Student Programming Fee, please complete the Golden Bear Orientation Fall 2023: Exemption and Accommodations  form (Those who receive a full exemption will have the New Student Programming Fee removed). Please refer to our Office of the Registrar Tuition & Fees page for more details on student fees.

These are the critical dates for the Golden Bear Experience, including Golden Bear Orientation (GBO). This page is updated often so please refresh your web browser each time you visit.

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. Visit Student Affairs’ Berkeley Life Blog for ideas on how to find community.

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. 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: 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 programming is not based solely on where you chose to live and/or if you live in University Residence Halls. Incoming students will have the ability to connect with their small group, as well as other communities (academic, identity, interest, etc.). 

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

A: While our Office Representatives are more than happy to connect you with other campus resources, unfortunately they are not able to answer certain questions that fall out of our office’s function. Here is a list of other departments that may provide a more direct answer for your questions:

  • For questions related to financial aid, fees and tuition, billing, payments, and disbursements, registration and enrollment, and student records, contact Cal Student Central.
  • For questions regarding registration, transferring credits, transcripts, residency requirements, veterans benefits, and other related issues, contact the Office of the Registrar.
  • For questions about issues that relate to your Conditions of Admission (I.e., sending in transcripts/exam scores by a certain deadline, status updates on receiving student records), contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  • For questions related to housing (move-in, contracts, deadlines, offers, etc.), please contact Cal Housing.

Q: I tested positive for COVID-19 or am under an isolation or quarantine order for COVID-19. What does this mean for me and GBO?

If you test positive for COVID-19 and/or are instructed to stay under an isolation or quarantine order by public health/campus officials, you should not come to in-person activities. Please email the New Student Services team, and we will work with you individually to determine possible solutions. We recognize that, if there are barriers to your participation in GBO, these barriers will likely impact your entire Berkeley experience.

You are always welcome to contact our office at (510) 642-7733 or through email at if you may be unsure about which office would be appropriate to contact for your concerns.


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.