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Freshman Orientation FAQs

When is freshman orientation? What will happen during orientation?

Freshman orientation is a mandatory 2-day program offered over several dates in June and July. During orientation, you'll work with academic advisors, current students, and professional staff members to get ready for your transition to the University of Northern Iowa. During the 2-day program, you will:

  • Meet with academic advisors to learn about your liberal arts core classes, degree requirements in majors you're considering, and course selections for fall semester
  • Talk with UNI faculty members about academic expectations
  • learn about on-campus living, student involvement, financial aid, campus technology, community expectations, and other aspects of the social and academic environment at UNI
  • Meet and get to know other new students
  • Receive your student ID card
  • Register for fall semester classes

Plan to check in on the first day of your orientation program sometime between 8:00 and 9:30 am. Check-in normally takes only a few minutes. However, between 9:00 am and 9:30 am check-in may take longer. Be sure to allow plenty of time to arrive, unload, and check-in before the opening session. The first mandatory session begins at 10:00 am, immediately following check-in.  Program sessions will be offered into the evening of the first day, and begin again early in the morning on the second day. You can expect to finish orientation by approximately 1:00 pm on the second day. 

When will I know the orientation date I have been assigned?

Admitted students will be mailed invitations to orientation beginning in early March, and will then have the opportunity to sign up for an orientation session online. Session size is limited and reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis. You'll be notified of your session assignment via email immediately after completing your reservation online.

Do I need to take any placement tests prior to orientation?

If you are planning to continue study in French, Spanish, German, or Russian during your time at UNI, visit the Department of Modern Languages web site at and complete the appropriate placement exam. Be sure to print your results and bring them with you to orientation.

Is parent attendance required for both days of orientation, or is it optional for parents to attend?

Parent attendance at orientation is not required, just encouraged. The parent orientation program is separate (for much of the two days) from the student program. The first day of orientation has a full schedule of programs for parents, including sessions on on-campus living, financial aid, health services, career services, and campus safety. The second day is less structured, with two morning sessions and then a student services fair where parents and students have the option of talking with financial aid counselors and representatives from other student support offices. 

Will my parents be with me when I meet with my academic advisor and register for classes?

No. Students will meet one-to-one with academic advisors, and schedule classes with the assistance of orientation staff members. This allows students an opportunity to begin building important relationships with faculty and professional advisors, which will help prepare them for future one-to-one academic advising appointments during their time at the University. Students will be given the guidance and support necessary to make informed decisions. At the conclusion of orientation, advisors will be available as needed to answer family members' questions regarding classes, academic program requirements, and registration.

Why is orientation mandatory?

Orientation provides you with a comprehensive introduction to the University of Northern Iowa in preparation for your years as a student on campus. You will meet with academic advisors, faculty members, and professional staff in order to gain a better understanding of the academic culture on campus and to create your first semester schedule. You will also learn about campus resources, student organizations, on-campus living and dining, and you'll make connections with other students that will assist you in making a successful transition to the UNI community. Research tells us that students who complete a comprehensive orientation experience prior to the beginning of college are more likely to succeed in the first year, and to graduate from college.

I can't attend both days of orientation. Can I just attend one day?

No. In order to register for fall semester classes, you must attend both days of orientation.

My summer baseball/softball schedule makes it difficult for me to schedule a two-day orientation session. What should I do?

If you have a baseball or softball game scheduled during each of the nine freshman orientation sessions, talk with your coach about making arrangements that allow you to attend orientation. Your schedule on day one of orientation is full through the afternoon and evening, and you should NOT plan to leave early in time to get back for a game. If you have an afternoon or evening game on the day two of your orientation session, you will likely be able to make it work. You will be finished with orientation by 1:00 p.m. day two of orientation, which will allows more travel time for an afternoon or evening game.

Should I stay overnight on campus during orientation?

Yes!  Students who stayed overnight on campus during orientation indicated later that they felt better prepared to start college and made more connections with other new students.  If you choose to stay on-campus, you will be housed in a double room in Bender Hall with one other student of the same gender. During your time in Hagemann Hall, you will have opportunities to meet other new and current UNI students, and enjoy informal social activities. Hagemann Hall is not air conditioned, so plan to bring a fan. Each person will be provided a fitted sheet, bed sheet, pillow, pillowcase, light blanket, and towel.  Please note that accommodations are not comparable to those found in hotels (no TV, air conditioning, etc.).

Will I be able to see my assigned fall semester residence hall room?

You will not have the opportunity to see your specific room, although you will be given a tour of your assigned building and a sample room. This will give you a clear idea of room size, layout, and residence hall facilities (laundry, dining, recreation, etc.). Because students participating in youth camps live in our residence halls throughout the summer, we are unable to open and show a number of specific rooms for privacy and security reasons.

What if I can't make it to one of the June or July orientation programs?

If you are unable to attend any of the orientation programs offered in June or July, we offer a "last chance" one-day orientation program for fall semester. Because the 2-day orientation programs in June and July are more comprehensive, we recommend that you do your best to fit one of those into your schedule.

What is there to see and do in the Cedar Valley after I've finished orientation?

To learn more about dining, shopping, and other attractions near the University of Northern Iowa campus, visit the Cedar Falls Visitors and Tourism Bureau at