10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Orientation

You have been waiting since November 30th. You get a notification that you have a new email- it is from UCLA Admissions Office- you got in! Whether it was your dream school or not, you chose to come to UCLA, but it is not official until you have gone through New Student Orientation. Here are 10 things to know before you take the trip to Westwood.

1) Bring Hand Soap

At orientation, you will be staying in either Rieber Vista or Rieber Terrace. These buildings have plaza style rooms, which means they have shared bathrooms for every 2 rooms. However, at orientation they do not provide you with hand soap in the bathrooms, so I would recommend buying a small one before you get there. I did not know this, but luckily one of my roommates brought some.

2You’re Going to Get VERY LITTLE Sleep

Orientation is filled with activities and socializing. Even though it might seem like you have time to go to bed early and wake up for the early morning meeting times, you really don’t get much sleep at all. I think in the 3 days I slept there (including the early arrival night) I slept for about a total of 12 hours! Orientation starts every day early in the morning and will often times have evening activities (there is a scavenger hunt one night and you don’t get back until like 2 am!). I found myself going to sleep around 3 or 4 am every night and having to wake up at 6 or 7 to go get breakfast and get ready for the day.


3) Signing Up for Classes is Stressful

Unlike high school, you do not have a counselor that will tell you exactly what classes to take. Choosing your classes is completely up to you and the registration process is extremely stressful, especially at orientation because it is the first time. But don’t worry- your New Student Advisor will explain everything! Here’s my quick rundown on how registration works:

  • On the morning of the third day is when you enroll. The NSA will randomly choose an order for your group (which will have around 10 people) and 2-3 people will enroll at the same time. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you have many alternates for each class, whether it be different discussions or different classes. Trust me, the alternates will save you when it is time to enroll because classes do fill up fast and if you don’t have an alternate you’ll have to find another class while other people are registering! All of this will make much more sense once orientation comes, but just know that this will be a big part of orientation and it will be hard, but don’t worry too much because there are lots of people to help you.

4) Lots of Walking

Make sure to bring good walking shoes and a water bottle! Although UCLA is the smallest UC campus, it has A LOT of hills and steps, especially on the hill (where the dorms are). Orientation consists of lots of walking to meetings, tours, etc and you are going to get tired very fast! Also, bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, etc because it is during summer and you will be spending lots of time outside.

5) Where to Go?!

This might sound redundant, but I highly suggest finding a map of campus online and printing it out! Especially for early arrivals! For early arrival, you check in at night and the streets are not well lit (like at all!) My dad and I drove around for a good 30 minutes trying to find where I was supposed to be for drop-off. There also weren’t any signs saying where to go. If you aren’t doing early arrival, it is probably much easier because there will be crowds, but I still suggest finding a map and familiarizing yourself with the dorm area.

6) Bring Blanket and Towel

If it fits in your luggage, bring a blanket and a towel! These are provided for you, but trust me you will want your own. The towel and blanket they provide for you are very thin and terrible quality, so it is worth it to bring your own.

7) Elevators take FOREVER!!

There are only 2 elevators in the building and everyone has to be at the same places at the same time so the elevators get super packed and you will be waiting for a while to get on one! My tip: just take the stairs!

8) Spend time planning meetings for Day 2

On Day 2, you will get to choose which meetings/presentations you want to go to. Make sure you plan accordingly! I didn’t really look ahead and just went to my major’s presentation (which is required) and the study abroad one. But I wish I had gone to others, such as the pre-med one and the research/internships one. You will have the schedule of these meetings on Day 1 in your handbook, so make sure to find the ones you’re interested in and make a plan for yourself.

9) Your NSA will be your BFF for those 3 days!!

Your New Student Advisor (NSA) is there to help you with ANYTHING! Do not be afraid to ask them questions or advice- they know the answers! You will be with your NSA and group for all of orientation and hopefully- you all become close! 

10) IT IS FUN! Don’t be scared!!

The most important part of orientation is to HAVE FUN! Although it is overwhelming and stressful with classes and everything, it is a place to socialize and meet new people. I am still super close with people I met at orientation. You only go through orientation once and it’s only 3 days- make the most of it!



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