19 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To Orientation At UCLA


Whether you’re excited, scared, or dreading orientation, some things just have to be done. The consensus is really all over the place, some are going to tell you to not waste your time and others will tell you that it is extremely helpful in getting you started on the right foot. Either way it can only benefit you, even if the benefit is small. Although, it is a good reflection of how the next mostly parent-less year will be. You’ll get a small taste of your newfound freedom, and if anything, that will be the factor that gets  you excited for the upcoming school year.  You might be scared or nervous, but the first step in making your time there smoother is to step out of your comfort zone. Just do your own thing and know that you don’t have to follow all the rules. Here are 19 things I wish I knew before going into orientation at UCLA a.k.a. some hacks to beat the system.

This is a collaborative piece by: Tara Kazimi

1. You don’t have to pick the very first orientation.

A lot of people are going around saying to pick the first orientation so all the good classes won’t be taken. But that’s not true, every orientation saves a specific amount of spots, making there virtually no difference. Don’t stress about waiting for the first second the orientation sign ups open up, signing up late isn’t the end of the world.

2. Don’t get your hopes up about the dorm rooms.

You’ll have a lot of stock images of perfect dorm rooms in your head, and when you show up the room will be nothing like what you thought it was going to be. It’ll seem like a prison but don’t worry, it’s just because it’s not furnished. It’ll feel way more comfortable once you’re able to do what you want with it.

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3. You’ll have to counter the bare minimum.

Sticking with the barren dorm room theme, you’ll think they like watching us suffer. You’ll have to bring your own hand soap if you want to adhere to even the most basic hygiene quotas. You would think after paying so much money they’ll have some soap in the bathrooms for you. You should also bring your own blanket, they basically give you a single sheet of paper to keep warm at night. If there was one thing everyone at orientation could agree on, it was that the rooms were freezing at night. We never could find out if we couldn’t figure out how to get them work if they were just trying to save some money.

4. Bring comfortable shoes.

One thing no one tells you is how much walking you’ll be doing. I personally saw some girls in shoes that made me cringe when thinking about the blisters they would be getting at the end of the day. And to add onto the miles, like multiple miles, like 5 plus miles of walking, it’s really freaking hot. You’ll sweat (and cry) alot, so like try to stay away from anything that is the clothing form of an oven.

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5. Bring a reusable water bottle.

As previously stated, it’s freaking hot and you’ll be walking a lot during orientation at UCLA. So bring a water bottle and try to save yourself from dying from dehydration and fatigue.

6. Bring some snacks.

There aren’t really that many opportunities to eat, so I recommend snacks so you don’t have to go to sleep hungry.

7. Download Google Maps.

If you haven’t caught on, Apple Maps is awful. It mapped some supermarket as a hospital and it definitely has trouble getting you around UCLA. Don’t rely too heavily on your memory either, you’ll walk around in circles and go up and down the endless amount of stairs forever if you do. At first everything will look the same to you and you’ll just tire yourself out, but google will help with that.

8.  You’re going to have to sit through a seemingly endless amount of videos.

A large portion of orientation involves showing some required videos all about sex, alcohol, and drugs. They can get pretty slow and repetitive but they don’t show them for no reason.  As boring as they may be you just have to try to stay awake. While everything seems obvious, it might not be to some people, so at the end of the day you just have to sit through them and hope that the kids who need the videos learn from them.

9. All events are “mandatory.”

They’ll say that, but it’s really not true. I dipped on a few of the social events and didn’t miss a thing. In particular there is this one “night time scavenger hunt” that they’ll really try to sell. But it’s basically just a forced half marathon at 2 am for this “amazing” prize, which is just a sweat shirt or something. You’l be cold, tired, sweaty, and running around like a bunch of mad men, but I guess some people are into that.

10. Bookmark Bruinwalk on your phone and laptop.

The single most helpful portion of orientation is when you get coached on how to choose your classes and what classes to choose. Everything will be really overwhelming and you won’t know a thing about any of the professors/classes and you’ll be really confused and you won’t know what you’re doing, but you will have Bruinwalk. The holy grail of advice. It’s basically a rate my teacher but specifically for UCLA. You’ll see what past students say about classes/professors and it’ll basically save your life,  diverting you from all the chaos everyone else is experiencing.


11. 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.

12. You’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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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!

17. 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.

18. 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! 

19. 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!

Are you excited for orientation at UCLA? Comment below!
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