Skip to main content

Orientation welcomes new Golden Bears­—and makes history

On August 15, 7,196 new students formed a record-breaking big “C”

Keegan Houser

Fall undergraduates and their families just made history as attendees of Berkeley’s first Golden Bear Orientation (GBO), the largest program of its kind in the nation, in terms of the number of students involved.

The weeklong event, held Aug. 15-22, welcomed 9,500 new freshmen and transfer students. By all accounts, GBO, part of the innovative Golden Bear Experience, gave new undergraduates a comprehensive understanding of the campus and fun ways to meet fellow Golden Bears.

“GBO was an extra special week for the Cal community because there was so much life on campus,” says GBO Student Coordinator Tanisha Muquit. Nearly 600 continuing students volunteered as GBO leaders and as mentors and guides for the new students. “All of the new students interacted with each other and with various campus departments, and it seemed as if campus really came to life in an amazing way,” adds Muquit. “GBO was spirited, welcoming and added so much fun during orientation week.”

Another orientation will be held in January 2018 that’s specifically for undergraduates who start school next spring.

Orientation was just one part of the overall Golden Bear Experience, which consisted of four major components: Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep (both completed online, before students arrived) and GBO and Getting Your Bearings (in-person programs, completed once students were on campus).

By breaking the process into four components, New Student Services gave students the summer, prior to their move to Berkeley, to learn how to enroll in classes, connect with their academic advisers and learn about some important campus resources.

“Our goal was to make sure each new student felt comfortable being on campus, connected to fellow new students, confident in their abilities to seek out resources and proud of the UC Berkeley community they are now a part of,” says Chrissy Roth-Francis, director of New Student Services. “The entire Golden Bear Experience has been a fantastic start for our new Cal Bears, and we are so happy to have them on campus and as part of our community.”

Parents and supporters took part in their own Aug. 13-14 orientation. About 3,000 attended sessions on how parents and supporters can play a critical role in their students’ academic careers. According to Roth-Francis, sending a student to college is a difficult process for most family members. She adds, “We wanted to equip parents and supporters with the language and tools necessary to successfully aid their students’ transition to UC Berkeley.”

Among the highlights of the August orientation were:

  • Chancellor’s New Student Convocation, with speakers Chancellor Carol Christ and other university leaders.
  • Bear Affair, where new students formed a giant C on the football field and set a new Guinness World Record for the largest human letter.
  • Day in the Bay, excursions to help students get to know Berkeley and the entire Bay Area. Students took part in activities including tours, museum visits and kayaking. Transfer students visited Bay Area companies to make internship and job connections.
  • Academic programming, to better acquaint students with their colleges, departments, advisers and majors.

Guinness World Record judges present Chancellor Christ with a certificate

Keegan Houser