What to Expect During Golden Bear Orientation

Insight and advice for new Berkeley students from two Golden Bear Orientation Leaders

If you just got admitted to UC Berkeley, you’re probably excited, proud, anxious, and overwhelmed…all at the same time!

To ease your concerns about what to expect with your transition to campus, called the Golden Bear Experience (which includes orientation), we asked two Golden Bear Orientation Student Leaders for guidance: sophomores Namrata Subramanian and Jordan Thompson.

Sophomores Namrata Subramanian and Jordan Thompson, 2017 Golden Bear Leaders and 2018 Student Mentors.

What is the Golden Bear Experience?

Namrata: In a nutshell, the Golden Bear Experience is made up of three parts: Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep, which occur online during the summer, and Golden Bear Orientation, the weeklong event you participate in once you arrive on campus.

Jordan: You should know that you are required to complete these three components. You could jeopardize your enrollment at UC Berkeley if you don’t.


Why do I need to complete Advising and Prep online?

Namrata: There’s so much to know about UC Berkeley. It makes sense that you learn how to navigate the campus, know where to find services and support, and figure out how we handle class enrollment before you get to campus.

Jordan: Yes, and then once you get to campus for orientation, you can focus on meeting your classmates, plan more of your academic schedule, and have a chance to get around. And you focus on putting that knowledge from Prep and Advising to use!


Is Golden Bear Advising when I enroll in classes?

Jordan: You don’t actually enroll; Golden Bear Advising is your way to finding out how to navigate the academic platforms Berkeley uses. You will learn about the bCourses website we use for almost all classes, the requirements you have for your major and graduating at Berkeley, the communication options you have with your college adviser or other peer advisers, and then enroll in courses through CalCentral after completing this stage.

Namrata: Golden Bear Advising is a way for you to learn about CalCentral and how to choose the right classes, enroll, and other important tasks related to your coursework. You can learn about what prerequisites you may need to take for your intended (or declared) major(s) so that you can plan ahead and graduate on time. It’s also an opportunity for you to explore classes that may be outside your major but you’re still passionate about!


What happens during Golden Bear Prep?

Namrata: Golden Bear Prep helps you learn so much about Cal, from traditions to culture.

Jordan: Golden Bear Prep is all about getting to know the essentials to becoming a true Golden Bear. Learning about traditions, the Bay Area, and the language we use in the Berkeley community are very important.


So Golden Bear Orientation happens when I get to campus. Can you share a highlight?

Jordan: For me, it was hiking the Big C, which overlooks the entire campus, blasting music, and dancing with my orientation group.

Namrata: My favorite GBO experience, and also probably one of the best, most carefree nights of my life, was with my students at Jaguar Karaoke. It was 10:30 p.m., and my group and I were lying around in the Unit 3 Lounge after a fun but exhausting day. I asked them if they were still game for karaoke at 11 p.m., and they collectively nodded their heads. The hour we spent singing songs together as loud as we could and just laughing and having a good time made me forget about everything else in the world.


What are some activities that I can expect during orientation?

Namrata: You can expect to have days filled with activities ranging from academic to professional to fun! An especially exciting day is Day in the Bay where you will be able to travel to San Francisco or another city in the Bay and visit places like the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), Exploratorium, and more. On other days, you may have college programming during the day but other events in the evening and nights, like a campus and city tour, dinner at a local restaurant, and social with students from your residence hall.


Any advice to share before I get to campus?

Namrata: Honestly, I wish I knew how to self-care. In high school, students usually only need to manage their homework, possible outside work, and daily chores. Back home, my mom was always there to feed me and tell me to take breaks, but in college, I had to learn to schedule “me time”. You have to clean your room or apartment, cook food for yourself, remember to pay your bills, and so many other chores. It’s easy to forget about working out, sleeping enough, and scheduling in free time. Health and wellness are extremely important!

Jordan: Set goals, not expectations. As you attend one of the most well-rounded postsecondary institutions in the US, it is easy to get caught up in expectations you have for yourself academically, socially, and emotionally. Expectations create the mindset that you “have” to do something and things “have” to go a certain way. Your goals, however, are moldable and are more easily changed. You may set different goals every day, or change pre-existing goals whenever you want. This will make you more of an adaptable person, and I think this is very powerful.


You were both Orientation Leaders. What was the best part of that experience?

Jordan: I loved being part of people’s first impression of Berkeley and being their gateway to knowledge about Berkeley life. Having it been such a great experience, I decided to become a student mentor this year with hopes of pursuing the student coordinator position next year. It is an astounding program that has meant a lot to me.

Namrata: The best part about being an Orientation Leader was making connections with my group and being a mentor! My students were incredible, and I’m still good friends with many of them today. They even bought me a succulent at the end to say goodbye.

Jordan: To go through such a formative process with new students is a privilege. A lot of times, the people you meet in orientation become your best friends — the people you go on to live with, the best man or bridesmaid to your wedding, or that person your future kids might call Aunty or Uncle. While I am not saying this is always the case, I see the value in being a part of the orientation process for new students because of the direct impact it has on them.

Namrata: I applied to be a leader so I could give back to the Cal community and spread my love for this university. I wanted the new students to feel welcomed to Cal’s challenging campus and know there’s a place for each and every one of them.


To learn more about Golden Bear Orientation visit orientation.berkeley.edu