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, contact the Financial Aid Office at finaid@oxy.edu. Work study job opportunities will be listed on the HR website.
  • 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 8/28/20

Fall Housing

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. Students approved to live on campus this fall can find related details on the REHS homepage.

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.

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.

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, on 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).

If taking an LOA, can students take classes at a community college for credit?

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.

According to Oxy’s current credit transfer policy, if a student is enrolled at Occidental but takes a class at a different school that has an Occidental equivalent, the credits won’t transfer. Students on leave are not considered enrolled at Oxy, and they are free to take any approved course regardless if it is offered at Oxy during the academic year. However, students in this situation are strongly urged to get their course(s) pre-approved by the corresponding Oxy department chair so they know the class credits will transfer to count toward their major or Core requirements. Waiting to verify approval until after the course is completed could result in a decision that the credits are not transferable.

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.

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.

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.

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. Many books are available via curbside pick-up and mailing, as well. 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, job openings for students with work-study awards are being 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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Information for Staff

Will we be expected to return to campus for work this fall?

Initial "return to work" planning which had started earlier this summer was based on assumptions of some level of in-person instruction and a significant residential program this fall. The dramatic resurgence of the virus this summer has required us to change our plans. Health and safety considerations, backed by the recent guidance from state and county public health officials, mean we must continue to minimize the number of people on campus.

This means that employees who are working from home should continue to do so until the operational needs of the department dictate otherwise, as communicated and approved by the divisional vice president. Those employees who are expected to come to campus to carry out essential functions will continue to do so this fall. Because we expect to remain in remote learning mode for the remainder of the semester, we can anticipate, at this time, that this guidance, while subject to change, will remain in place through December. We have also established workplace operations and guidelines for staff and faculty who will be working on campus this fall.

What about working parents and whose children attend public schools that are fully remote this fall? Will the Child Development Center reopen?

Hours of remote work during this time may vary due to business needs (e.g., calls in the early morning or evening) and/or the employee’s own obligations (e.g., caring for children during normal working hours). If you need an accommodation based on child care concerns, please contact Jacie Feigelman at jacalynf@oxy.edu.

The Child Development Center will be reopening in mid-September, and there are currently some enrollment spaces available for Oxy employees who have children between the ages of 2 to 5 year old. If you’d like to learn more about the program, visit the CDC website. The center will be operating under guidelines set by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Occidental College in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

What health and safety measures are in place to protect me at work? What are the health requirements for fall?

You can find a full description of health and safety measures and requirements here.

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.

Where can I find information about staff furloughs and benefit changes due to the financial impact of the pandemic?

You may review details of the College’s cost-saving measures on the Human Resources website. These primarily relate to furloughs, retirement benefits and vacation benefits.

Campus Protocols for Fall

Will campus remain closed to non-Oxy community members this fall?

Yes, it will. Visitors are permitted on Occidental property within specific limitations. All visitors must be hosted and/or invited by a College employee, department, or registered student, and must follow the guidelines in our interim visitor policy as well as Occidental's health and safety protocols.

If an employee only come to campus for a short period of time, what protocols must they follow?

All members of the community who come to campus for any amount of time and for any reason are required to do a daily health check, wear a face covering, socially distance from others and follow all college health and safety protocols.

Are employees allowed to bring children to campus while working?

Personal visitors, including family members and friends of employees, are allowed on campus, and must be accompanied by an Oxy community member and follow all health and safety protocols including passing the health check prior to arrival on campus.

Family members and friends ARE NOT permitted inside any Occidental College buildings unless they are providing services required by the College and pre-approved by the appropriate vice president.

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

View more information about visitors on campus and all required guidelines on our interim visitor policy.

What are the health and safety protocols for elevators?

No more than one person may enter or occupy an elevator at a time, so please use the stairs whenever possible. In some cases, employees with a relevant accommodation or condition may be accompanied in the elevator. If you are using the elevator, wear your mask or face covering and avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers, if possible. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the preferred form of hand hygiene upon departing the elevator.

What are the health and safety protocols for restrooms?

Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Some restroom stalls may be taken out of use. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.