For the first time ever, new student orientation at the College of Charleston will be held online for incoming students joining the Cougar family for the fall 2020 semester. Running from July 8 to Aug. 7, 2020, a total of 11 virtual orientation sessions will be held for students and families to learn more about campus resources, academic programs and student life.

Each student’s schedule will be different, based on required meetings and advising appointments. Students will receive their personalized schedules a week before their orientation in their College of Charleston email. On the day of orientation, students, in a series of online sessions via Zoom, will work with an orientation intern, meet other new students and work with an academic advisor to review academic plans and register for fall classes.

“Our goal for orientation this year – and every year – is to help students build relationships with fellow incoming students, current students, orientation interns, and faculty and staff,” says Stephanie Auwaerter, director of orientation. “It may be done a little differently online, but that is still our goal.”

Orientation is an exciting time, but it can also be a little overwhelming. And since things will look a little different this year, here are answers to some common questions to help the members of the Class of 2024 begin their next chapter as College of Charleston students.

How will online orientation be structured?

orientation email graphicStudents who were signed up for the two-day orientation sessions will only attend orientation online for one of the two days. They will receive an email to their CofC email account two weeks prior to the orientation that lets them now their assigned date. Students are encouraged to put their CofC email on their phone and check it regularly for updates and information regarding orientation schedules and events.

On the day of their orientation, students will meet with their orientation intern in the morning from 9 to 10:15 a.m. via Zoom. They will then work with their orientation academic advisor for the remainder of the morning. After a lunch break from 12 to 1 p.m., students will have an academic major meeting from 1 to 1:30 p.m. This meeting will give students a chance to chat with faculty from the various majors at CofC.

Following the academic major meeting, students will meet with their academic advisor in Zoom and register for fall 2020 courses. Students will receive an email with links to all of the meetings. The links will also be in their orientation OAKS module.

What do I need to do before I come to orientation?

Before orientation, students should make sure they’ve paid deposits, applied for housing, familiarized themselves with MyCharleston and filled out the College of Charleston Immunization Record Form.

Students should set up their CofC email and make sure they can access it on their cell phones. Directions to put your CofC email on your phone can be found at Students also need to set up their CofC Zoom account to use on their virtual orientation session date. Directions to access CofC’s Zoom account can be found at

The OAKS orientation module must be completed before students can access virtual orientation. Students will need a computer with a camera and a microphone, as well as a stable internet connection to participate in online orientation. If students don’t have access to the needed technology or internet connection to attend virtual orientation, they need to fill out this survey so that alternate plans can be made.

A full checklist can be found on the orientation website.

What other new-student activities will be offered as part of orientation?

In addition to meetings with orientation interns and academic advisors, incoming students will be invited to participate in other new-student activities so that they can learn more about campus, meet other new classmates and be ready to join the CofC community in the fall.

Activities will include events hosted by orientation interns such as trivia nights; “What’s the Tea?” a game where students can ask questions of other students about life at CofC; and virtual hangouts. Be on the lookout for emails with details about specific virtual activities. And the Office of Student Life is also planning a series of virtual events for incoming students throughout the month of July. Those events will be promoted through Cougar Connect.

Will there be online orientation sessions that family members can attend?

clyde in zoomEach day of the week from July 6 to Aug. 7, 2020, weekly virtual events for families will be held including student panels and events spotlighting campus services and how families can support their student academically. The events and panels will be repeated each week and recorded for families to watch if they can’t watch live.

A week before each student’s assigned orientation session, all families registered for family orientation will receive a packet with information, a family calendar and access to exclusive virtual events. Each day of the week of the student’s orientation date, families will be invited to a virtual event. All sessions will be recorded.  The links will be available in the presentations and handouts section of the orientation website.

More special activities are being planned for families to provide answers and information regarding campus housing, residence life and student health in the upcoming school year.    

How can I show my Cougar Pride during orientation?

Want to show your Cougar spirit during online orientation? No problem! We have a variety of CofC-themed Zoom backgrounds to help you share your excitement about joining the College. Use this link to download your CofC-inspired Zoom backgrounds before orientation.

Can I share my orientation experience on social media?

Absolutely! Be sure to tag #CofC24, #CofC and #CofCBound in your tweets (@CofC) and Instagram posts (@CollegeofCharleston). Follow the College’s Instagram account, as well as @CofCOrientation on Instagram, to see stories from orientation. Other CofC social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram to follow for information and Cougar pride include @CofCHsu, @CofCStudentLife, @CofCResLife, @ClydetheCougar and @CofCAdmissions.

And be on the lookout for your orientation intern on Instagram, too, so you can connect, ask questions and learn about life at CofC from students in the know.

Featured image by Mike Ledford