What to expect during New Student Orientation (NSO)

by Ian Wheeler, Student Admissions Ambassador and NSP Graduate Assistant for Residence Life

One of the first steps to officially becoming a VCU student is attending New Student Orientation.  NSO is mandatory for all new incoming students and is the formal introduction to the university. I can proudly say that all incoming first year students are in for a unique treat when they arrive for NSO. We are about two weeks in and the New Student Programs (NSP) staff is definitely off to a running start!

Incoming freshmen start their experience by checking in at Brandt Hall at 12:30 p.m. on their registered orientation date.  During check-in, students will receive their summer reading book, room keys for their overnight stay (only incoming students are provided with lodging accommodations on campus), parking validations for those driving to campus, and some other awesome free VCU items! Families part ways from the students shortly after check-in; parents and guests of incoming freshmen, don’t worry – we have workshops and welcoming receptions for you to attend while your student is becoming acclimated to the campus!

The first afternoon of orientation for students begins with an overview of some prominent campus buildings that all students should know. Students then attend the RAM Resources Fair, where representatives from numerous campus departments and student organizations are ready and waiting to answer questions and provide information about campus resources! On the first afternoon of orientation, new students also participate in one of their first of many VCU traditions: rubbing the Ram horns outside of the University Student Commons. Rumor has it that rubbing them will guarantee graduation in four years!

During the remainder of the evening, students are provided with the opportunity to better connect with their orientation leaders and other incoming member of the Class of 2017 through a series of presentations, games, and performances. Students will also dine at Shafer Court Dining Center where there are a number of different food options to select from in Market 810’s buffet-style dining room, including vegetarian and vegan choices. Before returning to Brandt Hall for the night, students will have one last chance to hang out at either the Break Point Games Room or the Cary Street Gym and meet with some representatives from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

The second day begins with breakfast at Shafer Court and is followed by an academic overview the student’s intended major. Students then sit down one-on-one with an academic advisor and pick their classes for the fall semester. Students will also get their VCU ID card, which provides access to everything from the Monroe Park and MCV Campus dining facilities and on-campus housing to the Cary Street Gym and entry to VCU home athletic games!

Incoming transfer students, we haven’t forgotten about you! While your orientation session is not an overnight experience, your morning will begin at 7:30 a.m. with check-in in the University Student Commons.  Following check-in, you too will attend the Rams Resource Fair and learn more about resources that will better acclimate you to becoming a VCU student.  After having lunch at Shafer Court, you will meet one-on-one with an academic advisor to create your class schedule and get your VCU ID card.

Don’t forget that both incoming freshmen and transfer students will need to take the online Math Placement test and any other required placement tests for their major(s) before attending NSO: http://uc.vcu.edu/new-student-programs/new-student-orientation/course-placement-testing/.

We are extremely proud of the NSO successes thus far; students and parents alike have provided lots of positive feedback on their orientation experience! The Office of New Student Programs is deeply committed to insuring that everyone has a great time getting to know VCU. We’ve had so much fun getting to know some of the amazing students of Class of 2017 and we are excited to meet the rest of you this summer!

If you have further questions about NSO, please contact the Office of New Student Programs at (804) 828-3700 or by e-mail at nso@vcu.edu.

College planning tips for rising high school juniors

by Phoenecia Hill, Admissions Counselor

Your junior year of high school is just around the corner and it is as important as the first two you have already completed.  It is one of the most critical years because it is usually the last complete year that colleges may review your grades and other information in order to make an admissions decision. Your academic credentials could determine if get accepted, rejected, or waitlisted.  So it is very important that you try to maintain good grades, carefully choose your courses, and start to research and visit colleges. Below are other helpful hints to help keep you on the right track for academic, career, and life success.

1. Make note of registration deadlines and prepare for the upcoming SAT I, SAT II tests, and the ACT assessment.  Sign up for the ACT or SAT offered in the spring of your junior year. If you aren’t pleased with your score, you will still have another opportunity your senior year to take the test again.

When researching colleges, be sure to note whether they require the SAT I, SAT II, or the ACT assessment.   Some colleges will require or recommend one or the other, others accept either. Prepare for the test(s) you plan to take. Consult with your high school guidance counselor about preparation techniques and resources.

2. Discuss possible career paths with your guidance counselor, based on your interests. Talk with counselors and your family about post-graduation plans. Do you plan on attending a four-year university, community college, or trade/vocational school? Some students decide to join the military, take a break, or go straight into the workforce.  Please be honest with yourself, your parents, and counselor about your plans so they can advise you in the best way possible.

3. You should also meet with your counselor to ensure you are on track for college with your course selection.  Are the courses you are taking or are scheduled to take in high school meeting college admission requirements? Talk to your counselor about taking more challenging courses such as honors, college prep, or Advanced Placement courses. Ask about any courses that you can take that may help you decide if a particular career direction is right for you.  Also, remember to maintain good grades.

4. Do your research!  Consider visiting your top three schools to get familiar with the people, environment, and make sure it is a good fit for you. You will be spending at least four years there so it’s best to go to an open house if you can or a general campus tour and information session.  Consider trying to speak with students who are currently studying your intended major or sitting in on a class. Make sure to contact the school in advance to make arrangements.

Also research cost of attendance, admissions requirements, application, and scholarship deadlines. Check out the schools admissions website to see if and when the admissions counselor may be in your area for college fairs or visiting your high school.

5. Create a resume.  Your resume should talk about yourself outside of school. Colleges look for students who are well-rounded and involved in different activities outside the classroom. The school to which you are applying will already know your grades and test scores since these are included on your school transcript. Items that should be included on your resume are: school activities, community activities, community service/volunteer work, sports, awards and recognition, hobbies, and any work/internship experience.

6. Money, Money, Money…Money! Discuss college finances with your family.  Check with your family to see how much money they may be able to contribute to your college education. During your senior year, if you want to be considered for federal financial aid, please have your parent or guardian complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can start working on it January 1st and the national priority deadline is March 1st. More information about the FAFSA is here: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

Also always remember, just because a college may seem expensive and out of your reach, never assume anything. There are several types of financial aid that may enable you to attend a college. Consider getting a job the summer before your senior year to cut down costs for school and to help with other expenses. Consider opening a checking or savings account if you have not already set one up.

7. Attend a financial aid night to learn the basics of financial aid.  Many schools will hold financial aid nights in the fall. Make sure to attend one. You can also search the Internet to find out additional information or contact the Department of Education. If you haven’t already, start researching scholarships through the Internet, local businesses, and your guidance counselor’s office.

A few scholarship websites are listed below to help you in the process. Again, please be aware of deadlines and make sure you turn in all requested materials to be considered. Apply, apply, apply, that’s half the battle. Get started now!





Also check out VCU’s financial aid website for more detailed information on financial aid, scholarships, grants, loans, and other resources.


8. Lastly, remember to just breathe and enjoy high school!  You only get to experience events such as homecoming, prom, and awards ceremonies during this time.  So do your best, take advantage of every opportunity that will make you stand out and try to not to fall into senioritis the following year.

Speaking of seniors, we haven’t forgotten about you. The next blog post will provide helpful hints to help you finish your last year strong! Stay posted…

New to VCU? Don’t forget to register for New Student Orientation!

by Christal Holmes, Campus Visit and Communications Manager

If you will be a new first year or transfer student at VCU in the fall, don’t forget that you must attend New Student Orientation (NSO).  Orientation is the formal introduction to all that VCU has to offer.  During NSO, you’ll have a chance to meet with an academic advisor, create your course schedule, get your VCU ID card, take a tour of the campus, and more!

The first orientation sessions begin this week and will continue throughout the summer; dates vary depending on the program that you were admitted into.  Information regarding orientation dates and the schedule of activities can be found online by clicking here.

Remember that in order to sign up for an orientation session, you must first accept our offer of admission.  Once you’ve accepted our offer, please allow at least 24-48 hours for your information to be processed and our systems to update and allow you to register for orientation.  Between registering for orientation and actually attending your scheduled session, you will also need to complete the online math placement test.  Depending on your major, additional placement tests may also be required before you meet with an advisor during NSO.

We’re delighted that you’ve decided to become a part of our Ram family and look forward to seeing you on campus this summer!  Got questions about attending NSO, contact New Student Programs and Orientation by phone at (804) 828-3700 or by e-mail at nso@vcu.edu.

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University to host high school graduations

On Tuesday, June 4; Thursday, June 6 through Saturday, June 8; and Monday, June 10 through Saturday, June 15, the university will host local high school graduations in the VCU Siegel Center.  Travel will be significantly impacted during this time; it is strongly encouraged that you allow for additional travel time due to increased traffic if you’re planning to visit the campus during this period.

On these dates, visitors attending our daily information sessions should park in the West Main Street Parking Deck or the West Cary Street Parking Deck; Welcome Center staff will be able to validate parking for these decks.

Click here for a complete schedule of events at the VCU Siegel Center.  Please contact the Office of Admissions at (804) 828-1222 or toll-free at (800) 841-3638 if you have any questions.