FAQs

We know that you have questions about the upcoming year. If you have questions that are not answered in our FAQs below, please contact one of the following offices:

  • For questions related to financial aid awards and work study, contact the Financial Aid Office at finaid@oxy.edu.
  • For questions related to course registration or leaves of absence, contact registrar@oxy.edu.
  • For questions related to fall housing, contact the REHS Office at resed@oxy.edu.
  • For questions related to student support, email deanofstudents@oxy.edu. For academic accommodations and support, email accessibility@oxy.edu
  • For questions related to academic courses and advising, contact advisingcenter@oxy.edu.
  • For questions related to student accounts and billing, contact Student Business Services at stuaccts@oxy.edu or 323-259-2610.

Updated 8/13/20

Housing

How do I petition to live on campus this fall?

For Fall 2020, the College will be able to support up to 200 students who are either (a) international students, as verified by the International Programs Office, or (b) students with significant housing hardship. The petition form is here. Students approved to live on campus this fall can find related details on the REHS homepage.

Will students who are offered on-campus housing be required to move out and empty their dorm after Thanksgiving?

We don’t know at this point. If we bring large numbers of students back to campus in Spring 2021, room assignments would have to be adjusted. However, it’s important to note that students accepted to live on campus this fall will be guaranteed space for spring.

Will there be RAs for the small number of students living on campus?

REHS has suspended the RA Program for the Fall 2020 semester but hopes to have RAs return in the spring if the College allows a larger residential capacity. REHS professional staff will continue to support the needs of our on-campus students.

Can I live off-campus this fall?

Off-campus housing rented from private landlords is an option for students, and REHS has compiled some off-campus housing resources. Students who plan to return to the surrounding area to live off campus should be aware that while access to outdoor campus spaces will be permitted, access to campus buildings will be limited (this includes the Marketplace, library, academic buildings and residence halls). Off-campus students will have access to all virtual Emmons services, including telemedicine and counseling. If specific in-person care, including testing, is needed, Emmons will invite you in or refer you. Off-campus housing costs of up to $13,066 are included in the cost of attendance for financial aid recipients living off campus.

Will students living off-campus still have access to a meal plan through Occidental dining services?

Students living both on and off campus will be able to purchase an Oxy meal plan. The Marketplace is launching Tiger Takeout, a new mobile ordering app using GET for contactless pick-up on Branca Patio. See the meal plan selection form in MyOxy for more information (you must be a student to access this form). Off-campus students may purchase Meal Plan D, use roll-over dollars or purchase Bengal Bucks to use this service.

Will campus remain closed to non-Oxy community members?

Yes, it will.

Academics

What training are professors receiving and how will they create strong connections with students? Will professors be meeting regularly with students individually or in small groups?

The Center for Teaching Excellence, in conjunction with a faculty pedagogy committee, has developed training for all faculty this summer, and we have an array of pedagogy workshops informed by best practices in teaching remotely that faculty are involved in. Faculty are committed to developing and maintaining the close personalized pedagogical relationships with students while using online tools. Faculty will be in touch with their students at the regularly scheduled class periods, through email and/or via our course management system, Moodle, regularly. Students will have opportunities for small group interactions with faculty to facilitate the meeting of the learning goals of their courses. Students will be expected to respond to outreach from faculty, and will be encouraged to be actively engaged in their courses. The usual support from the Dean of Students Office and Disability services will be available to students, as will the Writing Center, Peer Learning and other peer tutoring services at the College.

What reassurance can you offer regarding the quality of teaching? How will this fall be different (or better) than Spring 2020?

While our instruction for the fall will be almost exclusively remote, the high-touch personalized classroom experience that is the signature of an Occidental liberal arts education during the best of times will be delivered electronically through a rich array of online video conferencing technologies. Faculty have been hard at work all summer preparing for a remote fall. We started by appointing a 20-member pedagogy committee—including faculty, instructional support staff in the Library and Center for Digital Liberal Arts, and staff in ITS—who designed a training program for faculty to make the best use of technology and the principles of equitable instructional design to revise courses specifically for a remote environment. We have also been able to draw on lessons learned in the spring, including feedback gathered by ASOC (Senate and DEB) that has been shared with all faculty.

Classes will be small (we lowered course caps for many courses), allowing for closer faculty attention to each student. In all of their classes, students can expect instruction that happens synchronously (in real-time) with the faculty member who is teaching the course. As always, our faculty will be teaching using a multitude of pedagogical approaches and methods. Students—whether they are taking science labs, practica, upper division seminars, introductory courses, courses that meet Core Program requirements—can expect in each of their courses a rigorous, personalized experience enhanced by close small-group or one-on-one experiences with the faculty member teaching the course.

Read a message to students from the Deans

How will Oxy ensure educational equity and address disparities in learning environments during the remote fall?

Oxy is taking several proactive steps as an institution to address disparities in learning environments during the remote fall (including making on-campus housing available for students with housing hardships). In the coming weeks, ITS will be working directly with students to ensure that they have the hardware, software, and internet bandwidth that they will need to be successful in their classes—and help to provide those resources to those that do not (see the August 7 message sent by CIO James Uhrich). The library has stepped up its digitization program to make materials accessible to students electronically, and they will make other print and analog materials available for curbside pickup or mailing. The library is also working with ASOC to replicate aspects of the textbook reserve program for students who cannot purchase textbooks. In early August, information was shared about expectations for synchronous attendance and accommodations for students in different time zones, allowing students to structure their academic program in a way that is compatible with their home schedule.

Are outside credits from other institutions allowed for returning students?

Our existing policy allows students up to 64 units of transfer credit. In order for a course to count towards graduation requirements, the chair of the relevant Oxy department would need to pre-approve the course as meeting college standards, and could serve as a reasonable substitute for an Oxy course. Please refer to the transfer credit section of the course catalog and speak with your academic adviser.

Is it possible to attend fall semester part-time (<12 credits)?

Students are able to petition to be part-time this semester. To do so, submit a Petition for Special Consideration form to the Registrar’s Office explaining why you plan to continue part-time. Part-time tuition rate per unit is $2,333.

How can I take a leave of absence (LOA)? What are the deadlines and are there any penalties?

LOAs are processed through the Registrar’s Office. Before the fall semester begins, returning students can request a leave of absence using this form. In order to receive a 100% tuition refund for fall, you must submit your leave of absence before Fall 2020 Clearance is complete (at which point the student is considered officially enrolled). Clearance begins the first day of classes: August 24, 2020.

Once the semester begins and once a student completes the Clearance process, they are considered an officially enrolled student. After that point, if a student decides to withdraw they would initiate that process by filing this form. Grades of 'W' (withdrawal) are recorded on the transcript (a non-punitive grade) and tuition owed for the semester is determined by withdrawal date (dates and refund percentages are listed on the academic calendar). Students would also use up one semester of financial aid eligibility (contact Financial Aid for more details).

To expedite the process for Fall 2020 Leaves, the only two required approvals are from the student's Academic Advisor and a member of the Dean of Students office. Students should reach out to both parties to obtain approval. The Dean of Students office will then set up a short virtual meeting to ensure that the student understands the leave process as well as the process to return to Oxy. Once approval signatures are obtained, the Leave of Absence form should be emailed to the Registrar's Office for processing.

Returning students may take a leave for a semester, year, or more, and they can take courses elsewhere. However, if they want the courses to transfer in, they will need to go through the usual process (chair approval by the department that would house the course if it were offered at Oxy, Core Director approval to count for a Core requirement). Approvals must be received prior to taking the course, and submitted via a Transfer Credit and Course Substitution form (located on the Registrar's Forms page).

For online courses, how will time zone differences be managed?

While the general expectation is that students will be available for their scheduled class times, each professor will set clear expectations re: synchronous attendance and how they can accommodate students in different time zones. The Fall 2020 Supplemental Course Info page details which classes will be synchronous, and some departments may also note if classes will be recorded for asynchronous purposes.

While not every student's time zone will be accommodated in the same way, we feel that being clear about the expectations for attendance means that students can make an informed decision about which courses to take. If students don’t find information on this issue on the supplemental information page, they should reach out to the professor teaching the course to ask. All students living in non-U.S. time zones will have opportunities for live small group or 1:1 experiences during standard working hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m. PST), and will have opportunities to take exams at times that accommodate their home time zone.

Will all classes be available this fall?

Students in all majors will be able to make progress towards their degree. Some courses have been shifted from the fall to the spring to ensure that each class we offer this fall will have learning goals that can be achieved effectively, without physical proximity. The changes to course caps may require some students to change their schedules and the remote format may cause some faculty or students to shift certain courses to later semesters. Students interested in finding out more about how faculty are planning to teach their courses can refer to this supplemental course information page, which gives information by department or program offering the course.

Given the course offering adjustments, will students still be able to graduate on time?

We are still offering a robust array of offerings across disciplines. A small number of courses had to be canceled/moved to a later semester, but most of our courses are being adapted to the remote environment, allowing all students to make normal progress towards their degrees.

Are there changes to grading policies for the fall semester?

Several policy changes have been put in place following discussions among the faculty as a whole, and within a committee of faculty and academic administrators (which also includes the ASOC VPAA) that has been meeting this summer to consider policy adjustments. We are committed to engaging with students over the course of the fall to explain these policies and their rationale. More information

  • Students will still have the option to select CR/NC grading for courses that count towards the major, minor, or core requirements. However, the threshold for CR has reverted to the previous standard of a grade of C or better. Students will continue to have all semester to elect CR/NC grading, but the date for such selection will be the last day of the semester, following finals, but before the posting of grades.
  • We are instituting a midterm grading process, to replace the “low grade warning” system. Under this policy, all students will have information about their progress in each of their classes that can help them improve their performance and will aid them in selecting the CR/NC option.
  • We will continue to call for faculty flexibility with respect to assignment due dates, attendance, and other classroom policies, matters that are under each faculty member’s purview as outlined in the faculty handbook. If a student believes that their extenuating circumstances have not been adequately considered by their instructor, they are encouraged to ask for assistance from the academic deans or the support staff in student affairs.

Will study abroad be possible in 2021?

As conditions allow, Oxy is currently planning to offer Spring 2021 study abroad and faculty-led research travel as well as Oxy courses with a summer travel component. Info sessions are being offered starting August 13.

How will labs, studio arts, theater and other courses dependent on hands-on experience be taught? What about senior comps?

Faculty are planning alternatives, rescheduling some to spring, and information will be provided by individual instructors or departments, as appropriate. Senior comps decisions will be made by each individual academic department. Students should reach out to their academic advisers for specific guidance.

How will students access materials for research from the library?

All of the library databases, as well as 75,000 scholarly journals and nearly 700,000 ebooks, are online and available 24/7. Get more information and updates on accessing print materials and Oxy's Special Collections & College Archives.

Financial

Will Oxy be offering a tuition discount since we’re going all-remote?

All Occidental students who enroll in the Fall 2020 semester will receive a one-time $1,500 tuition credit for that semester. Regardless of the mode of instruction, Occidental students benefit from our rigorous and intellectually stimulating academic programs, our superb faculty, and our focus on personalized advising and a culture of care for the whole student. Remote or in-person, an Oxy education is a labor-intensive one. Having frozen tuition at 2019-20 level and provided the additional $1,500 tuition credit for each student, we are balancing our awareness of the investment our families are making with the need to ensure that we are not compromising the quality of our instruction or student support services, all available remotely: Hameetman Career Center, Intercultural Community Center, Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Center for Community Based Learning, Title IX and Project SAFE.

Am I still eligible for a work study job? Are jobs being posted?

Work-study awards are being included in 2020-21 financial aid packages, and students will be able to work remotely in some jobs that lend themselves to remote work. Job opportunities will be more limited because of the pandemic, and continuing uncertainty about fall enrollment and its impact on departmental budgets has delayed the posting of student jobs. As budget information becomes available to individual departments in the coming weeks, job openings for students with work-study awards will be posted on the HR website.

If a student lives off campus, how does this affect their financial aid or scholarship package?

Financial aid packages will be revised to reflect the change in the cost of attendance, which includes a decrease in direct costs. This may result in the reduction of need-based financial aid because the estimated annual budget for living off campus ($13,066 for both room and board) is less than the cost of living on campus ($16,600). The Financial Aid Office determines off-campus living costs based on national averages as well as the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS). The decision to move to remote instruction requires all financial aid packages to be revised to reflect a new cost of attendance.

How will a gap year or semester affect a student’s financial aid or scholarship package?

First-year students apply for financial aid for the year they actually matriculate into Oxy, which would be fall 2021 if a gap year application for the 2020-21 academic year is approved. If you were offered a merit-based scholarship, you will have the same merit scholarship when matriculating into Oxy after your gap year. Need-based grants are subject to change if financial situations change for you and your family. A new financial aid application would need to be submitted for the 2021-22 academic year and a new financial aid package offered in the spring of 2021. New first-year students are not able to take a gap semester, but if you are a transfer or international student matriculating in Spring 2021, the financial aid package you received in Summer 2020 is applied for the entire academic year.

There are different cost of attendance budgets for students with on-campus and off-campus housing. Oxy is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need of the cost of attendance. You can see the budgets used for calculating the cost of attendance for on- and off-campus here.

What is considered part time and how will financial aid and merit scholarships be impacted?

Part-time status means a student is enrolled in 11 or fewer units with the approval of the Registrar's Office. Merit scholarships and need-based financial aid funds are pro-rated if a student is enrolled less than full-time. Students enrolled in fewer than 6 units are not eligible for merit scholarships or institutional grant assistance.

Will a change in status this semester and/or year affect a four-year merit scholarship once the student returns full-time?

Your merit scholarship is active for eight full-time semesters. If you choose to take a gap semester or year, those gaps will not count toward the eight semesters of eligibility.

Why does it look like I am being charged for room and board in my financial aid package?

While each financial aid package includes room and board expenses to calculate the annual cost of attendance, students living off campus will not be charged for room and board. The reference to room and board under indirect costs in your award letter simply means that the College recognizes that paying for a place to live and food to eat is part of the cost of attending Oxy. You can find more information on the Costs & Financial Aid page.

Given that my typical scholarships and need-based grant aid typically cover the entirety of my tuition as well as most of my housing, will I still be receiving financial assistance for housing off-campus?

Yes, off-campus housing costs of up to $13,066 are included in the cost of attendance for off-campus living arrangements.

Technical Assistance for Remote Learning

How do I request computer equipment or internet access assistance if I don’t have the tools I need to take remote classes?

For students in need of assistance, ITS will loan laptops, wifi hotspots or other tools to support remote classes. As we only have a limited number available, we ask that you please only request a laptop or internet access assistance if you absolutely do not have access to a computer or internet. To apply for assistance, please fill out this technology support request form and it will be reviewed and decided upon by a committee including ITS, Academic Affairs, Dean of Students Office and Financial Aid.

Will students have access to their Oxy email address during a leave of absence?

Yes, they will have access to Oxy email and to all Oxy updates and announcements.

Student Life

How will the college foster virtual community connections for students and their peers? For students and their professors?

One of the hallmarks of an Oxy education is the community and relationships that are embodied at the College. We are going to take the same approach we always have to building community and relationships—not only among students and their classmates, but with their professors and the staff in the many offices that are here to support them. We will take full advantage of virtual platforms to build and develop a connected community. Being remote doesn’t limit your ability to create meaningful connections with your professors and your peers in the classroom. It just changes the way we approach fostering a robust intellectual community.

Our faculty have been working throughout the summer to redesign and rethink their classes, create new approaches, and develop new courses that are tailored for a high-quality, personal, interactive online experience. Likewise, our Student Affairs team has been working to develop virtual programming and involvement opportunities for students this fall. Read the Deans’ message to first-years and to returning students.

Will student clubs and organizations continue during a remote semester?

While in-person student gatherings are not an option during the Fall 2020 semester, student clubs and organizations will work with the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE) to engage in meaningful activities meant to further student leadership development. SLICE will offer additional resources and support in regards to virtual team management, online event production, and strategic planning for remote campaigns and initiatives.

When is Orientation happening?

Orientation will take place virtually on August 21-23. It features virtual, peer-to-peer engagements that will help new students become more familiar with our campus and the student resources available. The full schedule is available online.

What forms of support will be available to students remotely?

Although we will be virtual, we are here to support you with a full range of services, support and programming. The Dean of Students office, the Intercultural Community Center, the Hameetman Career Center, the Emmons Wellness Center, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE) office are all dedicated to continuing to foster Oxy's culture of care and supporting our students. Plus,

Will there be fall sports? What about other seasons?

Due to continuing health and safety concerns, we will not be participating in intercollegiate athletics in Fall 2020. Oxy Athletics will continue to work with the SCIAC to evaluate opportunities for our student-athletes in other seasons. Club sports are also cancelled for fall.

Will there be a Parents Weekend this Fall?

We will host a virtual Fall 2020 Homecoming and Family Weekend celebration, with more details to follow after the start of classes.

What will Spring 2021 look like in terms of mode of instruction and housing?

While no decisions have been made about spring semester, our current intent is to offer in-person instruction and, as conditions allow, to return more students to campus. Our ability to do so will benefit significantly from the work and planning that has been underway over the past several months and which will continue into the fall.

First-Year Questions

How will the College facilitate social connections and support systems for incoming first-years if they are attending remotely?

Although instruction will be virtual in Fall 2020, Oxy is still here to support our incoming students with a full range of services and programming, starting this summer. We are also developing content for an online Academic Success Center that will help students find resources that are tailored to their specific interest and needs. We launched the Wayfinders program to help incoming students connect with both Oxy community members and each other. Virtual programming is available through the Summer Student Workshops, and first-years can meet their peers through the L.A. Engage program. There's also KickStart Oxy (July 29-31), New Student Orientation (Aug. 21-23) and Welcome Week. You can also celebrate the start of the new year with other incoming students and their families virtually through Summer Community Celebrations. Welcome Week activities, workshops, and virtual mixers are designed to connect faculty, staff, and students for a student-centered Oxy experience.

This fall, taking a holistic approach to student development, we offer involvement opportunities that center on identity construction, intercultural communication, and community engagement. 

Why can’t first-years be considered for on-campus housing, especially those who do have hardships at home? Will any exceptions be made?

Given how different the campus environment will be this fall, and the fact that first-years do not have the same experience or social networks as returning students to lean on, we determined that only returning students would be able to apply for the limited campus housing. Students can choose to live in the neighborhood, but should be aware of the state of COVID-19 in L.A. as well as the guidelines that will apply to anyone on campus.

International Students

What happens to international students who can’t be in the U.S. to take remote classes?

The July 6 ICE directive was rescinded on July 14. This means that ICE is returning to the spring 2020 guidance which allowed returning students to maintain valid F-1 visa status as long as they are enrolled full-time (12 units) in Occidental classes–even if those courses are delivered through remote instruction and the student may be either located inside or outside the U.S. New international students are permitted to enroll in remote classes at Oxy. The federal guidance of July 24 indicates that new international students "will not be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. schools as a nonimmigrant student for fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online." Students can enroll in courses from home and the student visa record will be deferred for arrival in spring 2021. Learn more about the impact of federal guidance for Oxy students.

Who is considered an international student? Is a U.S. citizen who lives abroad treated as an international student?

Officially, only F1 visa holders are considered international by the College, but many College departments are aware of Oxy students who are U.S. citizens living overseas. U.S. passport holders or U.S. permanent residents living abroad should make their situation clear in communications with the College.

Will tuition fees be reduced for students taking online classes from another country?

Tuition is the same for all Occidental students studying remotely, and all students who enroll in the Fall 2020 semester will receive a one-time $1,500 tuition credit for that semester. A returning student could take a one-semester leave of absence to take courses at a local university, provided they have obtained prior approval, but new students would need to consult with Admission about their overall status.

If an international student does not live on campus this fall, are they still required to pay for health insurance?

F-1 visa holders who are physically present in the U.S. to study remotely with Occidental (Oxy is required to report a visa holder’s location in SEVIS) will be charged for Oxy's health insurance. The College requires it because the insurance is comprehensive, covers a wide variety of circumstances and conditions and meets ACA requirements.

Is it recommended for international students to take a leave of absence?

The best way to maintain progress toward the Occidental degree is to enroll with a full load of Oxy courses. An F-1 visa holder who does not enroll at Oxy will not be in valid visa status and will be required to seek "reinstatement" prior to continuing at Oxy in person. First-year students need to consult with Admission about their overall status; returning students would need to request a leave of absence through the Registrar’s Office.

For Spring 2021, will students be allowed to study remotely from their home countries?

We aren’t in a position to be able to answer this question at this time.

Information for Staff

When will we know whether or not we are expected to return to campus for work?

Human Resources is working on a return-to-work process; supervisors will be identifying positions that need to be on campus. If you are working from home, you can continue to do so until directed otherwise by your supervisor.

What accommodations can the College provide to employees who are working parents and whose children attend public schools that will be fully remote this fall?

If you need an accommodation based on child care concerns, contact Jacie Feigelman at jacalynf@oxy.edu.

What health and safety measures will be in place to protect me at work?

You can find a complete account of health and safety measures here.

Will campus continue to be closed to outsiders this fall?

Yes, it will.

Will the Child Development Center be reopening any time soon?

No final decision has been made yet. The CDC is faced with the same challenging health and safety issues that all other preschools are.

Have there been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus?

Five people, all Oxy staff members, have tested positive for COVID-19—on July 19, July 15, June 21, July 22, and July 24. We followed our notification and tracing policies in each case. The staff member who tested positive on June 21 was completely asymptomatic and has since returned to work. None of the cases appear to be related.

What do I do if I get sick?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, contact HR or Sara Semal ASAP to notify us so that contact tracing and quarantining can be conducted and community notices can be made (if warranted). Please note that your personal information and diagnoses will remain confidential.