A first-year student is any student attending college for the first time (not including dual-enrollment taken in high school), typically straight from high school or after a short time away from school.
Orientation for first-year students offers an immersive experience for students to learn about life at VCU, understand academic requirements, learn about campus resources and connect with VCU students, faculty and staff. Our program also includes an overnight stay on campus.
First-Year Student Orientation
For students admitted for Fall 2022, Orientation is transitioning back to in-person. It will consist of two-day overnight sessions held throughout the summer and will include some online components to complement the in-person experience.
Below is an overview of each component of the Orientation experience. You will receive more detailed information in your email once you have completed Orientation registration. It is important to check your email regularly and read over emails carefully.
- Review the first-year student checklist.
- Important items that must be completed before Orientation include, but are not limited to:
Before attending your Orientation session, you will need to complete the Ram Ready pre-Orientation modules. These modules will be available by June 3 and will cover important academic information, financial planning and how to prepare for your Orientation. You should plan for one and a half to two hours to complete these modules.
Students will also begin the course registration process before attending Orientation. You will receive more detailed information through your VCU email as Orientation approaches.
The First-Year Orientation program is a two-day experience and students will stay overnight in Gladding Residence Center. Orientation will begin around 8-9 a.m. on the first day and the program will end around 12-1 p.m. on the second day. Students will check in at Gladding Residence Center to get their room assignment and drop off their belongings. Start and end times may vary, the final schedule will be available before your Orientation session.
At Orientation, you will have large group sessions, small group sessions led by your Orientation Leader, and opportunities for breakout sessions based on your college/school and your interests.
Family Orientation: A separate program for families will also happen in tandem with the student program. Overnight accommodations are not included for families. Learn more on the families and guests page.
After attending Orientation, you will gain access to the final Ram Ready modules and several online training sessions that are required before starting your first semester at VCU.
There will be no upfront cost for students to participate in Orientation. The cost for the program is covered by the new student transition fee on your student bill in your first semester and will be paid alongside tuition and other fees or covered by your financial aid package (if applicable).
For Fall 2022, the new student transition fee for incoming first-year students is $200 and this covers your full Orientation experience (including all online and in-person experiences, your Orientation materials and programming in the first weeks of classes that support your transition to VCU).
For more information on student fees, visit: https://sfs.vcu.edu/tuition-and-fees/understanding-tuition-and-fees/mandatory-fees/.
Family and guest fee
Students may add up to two guests to their Orientation reservation for an additional fee of $50 per person for the two-day program. This non-refundable, one-time fee covers the cost to attend the in-person program and includes a printed VCU Academic Calendar, materials, refreshments and meals during Orientation, access to Ram Ready modules for families, staffing and rental fees.
This fee is collected at the time of registration via a secure online payment system. All major credit and debit cards are accepted. We cannot accept cash or checks.
Please note: Fees are subject to change from semester to semester. This fee is non-refundable.
Advising and course placement
Advising and registration will take place in tandem with your Orientation session. Advising and registration vary by your student type (first-year or transfer) and your academic college/unit.
For more information on general academic advising, visit VCU Advising.
First-year students will be assigned an advisor beginning on May 25 and will receive more information on selecting and registering for your first semester classes before attending your scheduled Orientation. You will schedule a meeting with your advisor in person or virtually to finalize your schedule. You should complete the First-Year Advising survey and then you will make an appointment in Navigate. You should try to schedule your advising appointment for a time before your Orientation, but you can meet with your advisor throughout the summer.
Course placement options
VCU determines your entry-level math, chemistry and foreign language courses based on your academic background and course placement test scores. All first-year students are required to complete math placement, and may also need to complete others based on their major. Transfer students are encouraged to complete math placement if they will not be transferring to a college-level algebra class or higher. Review the information below for more details.
All first-year students must take the math placement test before registering for Orientation. If you don’t have a test score or AP/IB/dual enrollment recorded on your VCU transcript, you will not be able to register for a math course.
You can access the test at https://math.vcu.edu/undergraduate/resources/placement/.
Take the test without any help. Receiving a score that doesn’t accurately reflect your math level could place you in a course where your success would be limited.
The chemistry placement test is an online test used to place students into an appropriate general chemistry course based on their background knowledge. All students planning on registering for General Chemistry I (CHEM 101) are required to take the test. This includes first-year students who have taken AP Chemistry.
Majors that commonly require CHEM 101 include engineering, biology, chemistry, forensic science, bioinformatics, environmental studies, interdisciplinary science and many of the pre-professional health programs (pre-med, pre-pharmacy, etc.).
You can access the test at https://chemplacement.vcu.edu.
Those earning a passing score on the test will be eligible to register for CHEM 101. Those not earning a passing score have two options:
- Complete the ALEKS online unit.
- Enroll in CHEM 100 – Introductory Chemistry and earn a B or better.
After successfully completing one of these options students are eligible to register for CHEM 101. ALEKS must be completed by no later than July 31 (fall) or Jan. 10 (spring).
Students who plan to continue studying a foreign language that they studied in high school must take the language placement test to determine the appropriate language class. Only students with transfer credit from other educational institutions are eligible to enroll in the next course within their language sequence. The foreign language placement test must be taken in person either before or during Orientation.
For more information about when and where tests are administered, visit worldstudies.vcu.edu/for-students/language-placement-testing.
If you took AP or IB classes and you are advised for classes before your scores are available, your advisor will ask for an estimate of your scores. If your estimate is incorrect, your classes will be adjusted once scores are available. Generally, VCU requires scores of 3 or higher to receive AP credit, and a score of 4 to 6 to receive IB credit.
You can also earn credit through dual enrollment. If VCU does not have the final transcripts from the community college by the time you are advised for courses, you’ll need to inform your academic advisor about the classes you completed and the grades you earned.