Students overlooking LA at night at Griffith Observatory

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers (or can at least point you in the right direction)!

Now that I’ve committed to Occidental, what's next?

Good question! Begin to familiarize yourself with the new student guide (in its entirety), with an emphasis on the to-do checklist and timeline. Everything you need to complete before arriving on campus at the end of August is listed on this timeline. Your first step is to activate your account, which will happen in the latter half of May.

When is orientation? What should I expect during orientation? 

New student orientation is August 20-26, 2024. Orientation is designed to ease your transition onto campus and connect you with new peers, as well as resources and departments at the College. You’ll register for classes, participate in various workshops, and much more. We create a schedule that balances required activities with time to rest, so you can get acquainted with your new home without being overwhelmed before classes begin on August 27. Check the orientation web page for a full schedule, available in late May. 

*International students will receive information from the International Programs Office (IPO) about an International Student Orientation

When should I plan to arrive on campus? 

New student move-in is August 19, 2024. Some students will move in before then; more information regarding early move-in dates will be provided during the summer. 

Fall athletes should contact their coach directly to confirm arrival dates. International students should refer to information from the International Programs Office regarding arrival dates.

Can I move in early?

No. Unless you are part of a program (e.g. fall sports, international student orientation, LA Engage, etc.) that begins prior to August 19, we do not allow early move in.

How long should my family stay? What events can they attend?

A concurrent and separate orientation program is offered for family members, while students are busy with their own program. More information about family orientation will be communicated during the summer. Stay tuned!

I am a new Oxy parent or family member. What should I know?

Welcome! We are glad to have you. As a family member, you may have questions different from those of your student. We encourage you to check out the Parents & Families webpage for information specific to you.

How do you match roommate(s)? When will I find out who my roommate(s) are?

After you submit the housing application (open June 1-24), Residential Education and Housing Services will spend the summer matching students with roommate(s) based on listed responses and preferences. To get the best match, be sure to complete this form on your own, with open and honest answers. Students will receive housing assignments directly from REHS in early August. Once you receive this info, feel free to reach out to your new roommate(s) to begin connecting. You can read more about housing on the housing application webpage

What will my room be like? What should I bring with me? What should I leave at home?

Each room comes equipped with one bed frame, extra-long mattress, desk, desk chair, and dresser (per roommate). Rooms are also equipped with a shared microfridge and microwave, one large window (minimum) and shared closet space. Consult the “What to Bring List" for suggestions and talk with your roommate(s) so you don't have duplicates of items. For example, you don't need multiple clothing irons! Learn more about living on campus in this fun Q&A video with Nathan Tam '23. You will also receive access to a comprehensive move-in guide later this summer to help you prepare.

What are the residence hall policies?

Though you will have more independence in college, there are still res hall policies in place to promote safe and respectful living environments for all students. For instance, all first-year res halls are substance-free. You can review the full list of res-hall policies here. These policies should answer a wide variety of questions, from whether you can have guests (or pets), to what to do if you are locked out and how to request a room change.

Are students required to live on-campus?

Yes! Living on campus is a core component of the Occidental experience. Students are required to live on campus for their first three years at the College. Juniors have the option to apply for an exception to live off campus (most juniors who live off campus are living in off-campus Greek houses or houses with traditions of housing student athletes). All in all, about 80 percent of students live on campus all four years. 

Where can I purchase the summer reading program book?

Once the summer reading program book has been selected, students will receive a code they can use to access the eBook version at no cost. Otherwise, we recommend picking up a copy at a bookstore in your area. Students and families will receive an email about the book choice later this summer. 

How and when do I register for classes?

All incoming first-year students select their first class, called First Year Seminars (FYS), in  June.  FYS registration opens at 9 a.m. on June 17 and closes at noon on June 21.  You can  read more about the FYS program and registration on the advising and course registration webpage. First-year students will register for their remaining classes during orientation in August after meeting with their assigned faculty adviser. 

What if I don't get the classes I want?

At Occidental, we keep class sizes small to allow for high-quality peer-to-peer discussion and rich, impactful interaction between students and professors. Occasionally, a class that you want  will fill up before you can register. When you're planning your schedule, make sure to identify several back-up classes, in case you don't get into all of your first choices. Most classes have a waiting list you can join in case a seat opens up, but you'll want to make sure you enroll in another class so that you have a full course load. (During the first week of classes you will have the chance to drop a course if a seat becomes available in another class you would rather take.) Keep in mind that you'll have more opportunities to take these classes in future semesters throughout your time at the College. Furthermore, the liberal arts curriculum is designed so that you can explore a wide variety of classes. Keep an open mind and try a course from a department you've never really considered before—who knows, you might just love it.

Do I need to take any tests before starting at Oxy?

Online placement tests are available for math, chemistry, music theory, and several languages, including Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. You can learn more about placement exams on the advising and course registration webpage.

We strongly encourage students to take the relevant placement exam during the summer if they think they may take a course in any of those subjects at any time during their college career. Students considering a major in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, geology, kinesiology, or physics should take both the math and chemistry placement exams. Students considering a major in computer science, economics, or math should take the math placement exam.

Who is my faculty adviser? How are they assigned?

In June, you'll fill out the advising information form with information about your academic interests. Based on the information you provide, you'll be assigned a faculty adviser who will help you select your classes for the fall and answer any questions you have about Occidental's academic programs. You'll meet with your faculty adviser during orientation, as well as periodically throughout the school year. You can change your faculty adviser (if needed) by filling out an adviser change form, getting a signature from your new faculty adviser and submitting it to the Registrar's Office. 

Please keep in mind that many faculty members are away from campus during the summer conducting research and working on projects, so it is not usually possible for new students to contact their advisers before orientation begins. If you have questions related to the College's academic program during the summer months, please contact the Advising Center and an on-call adviser will be happy to help you.

Do I need to prepare for my advising appointment?

To get the most out of your meeting with your adviser during orientation, come prepared with ideas of what classes you want to take and how you will fulfill your Core requirements. Take a look at the catalog to browse classes available in the fall. Along with the advising information form you’ll fill out this summer, you will also receive a schedule-planning worksheet to help you prepare for this conversation. 

When do I buy textbooks for my classes? Where and how do I find the ones I need?

Once you've registered for classes during orientation, you'll have time to visit the Occidental College Bookstore to buy books you need for the classes on your schedule.

If you'd like to buy books in advance for your FYS course or any classes  you've been placed into through a placement exam, you can do so online and pick up the books when you arrive by visiting the Occidental College Bookstore website. To do this, click on “Buy/Rent,” then choose "Will Call - Textbooks" to have them available at the Bookstore and avoid shipping costs. If you prefer digital books, some titles are available in digital format both in-store and on our digital book website. In rare cases, a book may be out of stock; if this happens, let our Bookstore staff know, and we can check on the status for you. If the book sold out, just ask the Bookstore staff and it can be ordered for you quickly without shipping charges.

The Occidental College Bookstore is located on the first floor of the Johnson Student Center. The Occidental College Bookstore is a non-profit; when you purchase from the bookstore and sell your books back to them, you are helping your fellow students by keeping used books on campus and helping to keep bookstore prices down. One of the perks of buying from the bookstore is an easy resell process during finals week, called “textbook buyback.” Any books adopted by the professor for the following semester will be bought back for up to 50 percent of the price paid.

How do I pay for textbooks at the Occidental Bookstore?

The Occidental College Bookstore accepts cash, check, debit/credit card, voucher or Bengal Bucks.

The  student account voucher allows you to quickly and easily charge purchases to your student account to pay later. Your student account is only charged for the amount of money you spend in the bookstore. The maximum you can spend is $600. You need your OxyID to access your voucher.

Bengal Bucks must be loaded to your account by adding funds prior to use. You may deposit funds in the bookstore using cash, check, or debit/credit card. You may also go to myOxy and add money to Bengal Bucks, and have the money charged to your student account to pay back later. Please allow 48 hours for funds to appear in your Bengal Bucks account. You can check your balance on the "GET" website. Bengal Bucks do not expire and do roll over from semester to semester. When you leave school you may ask for leftover funds to be returned to your student account. 

When do I choose my major?

All first-year students enter Occidental “undeclared” and have until the end of their sophomore year to formally declare their major(s). We encourage students to explore different areas of study during their first year on campus, prior to settling on a major. Some majors require at least three years to complete, so it is important to review requirements and plan ahead with the guidance of your adviser. When you declare a major, you will switch to an adviser in that department (unless your existing adviser is already in the relevant department).

How many classes do I have to take each semester?

Most courses are equivalent to 4 units of credit. There are also courses that meet less frequently and are worth 1 or 2 units. A typical course load is 16 units (generally four 4-unit courses), with a maximum of 18 units per semester allowed during your first year. Students need to average 16 units per semester over eight semesters in order to reach the 128 units required to graduate. 

How do I see which courses are being offered in the fall?

To see what courses are being offered during a given semester, visit Course Counts.

What is the Core Program?

All Occidental students must complete a set of required courses in order to ensure a broad, diverse education in the liberal arts and sciences. These courses are referred to as the Core Program. Visit the Core program website for more information about these requirements. 

What is a FYS?

In First-Year Seminar (FYS) courses, first-year students engage in shared intellectual experiences that help develop effective college-level writing and enhance critical thinking, in preparation for higher-level courses later on. FYS will also assist students with the transition to college and include an introduction to scholarly inquiry. 

How many credits will be awarded for my AP or IB tests? What AP/IB scores do you accept?

First-year students may be granted credit for subjects in which they have completed College Board Advanced Placement examinations with scores of 4 or 5, or International Baccalaureate scores of 6 or 7 in Higher Level (HL) courses. Credit for GCE A-level exams is awarded by department petition.

Students are typically awarded 4 units of credit for subjects in which they have completed Advanced Placement examinations with scores of 4 or 5, or International Baccalaureate scores of 6 or 7 in Higher Level (HL) courses only. In some cases an exam score will allow a student to enroll in a more advanced class (e.g. math and chemistry). Earning an Advanced Placement test score of 4 or above on a foreign language exam will satisfy the college's foreign language requirement. Students must have exam scores sent directly to the College in order to receive credit or to use their test scores for placement.

How do I get credit for courses taken at another institution?

The Registrar's Office oversees the transferring of credits. Students who have completed coursework at a previous institution should have their official transcripts sent directly to the Registrar's Office from the institution where the course was taken. We will accept hard copies and/or electronic copies of official transcripts, but cannot accept personally delivered transcripts from the student. A minimum grade of “C" or better is required to transfer credit to your academic record. The Registrar's Office evaluates each submitted transcript based on Occidental's curricular standards, and in some cases specific courses may not receive transfer credit. Occidental will accept credits from a regionally accredited college or university only. 

Can I take courses during the summer? 

For continuing students, Occidental offers a limited number of courses during the summer, as well as the opportunity to participate in internships, independent studies, and faculty-guided research projects. Additionally, students can take courses in the summer from other regionally accredited colleges and universities in order to earn credit and fulfill some requirements. (Note: Using summer transfer courses to fulfill college requirements requires approval in advance.)

Work taken elsewhere during the summer may be accepted for credit toward a degree from Occidental, subject to prior approval from the chair of the department with which the course would be identified, the student's adviser and the Registrar. A minimum grade of "C-" is required for credits to transfer. Occidental will accept credits from a regionally accredited college or university only.

Where can I find academic and housing disability resources and accommodations?

Should you need academic or housing accommodations, you can begin the process by completing the request for accommodations form. This form will be available in early summerFor information or questions, visit the Disability Services webpage.

When will I learn my financial aid offer?

If you applied for financial aid, your financial aid offer is included in your admit packet. If you received an incomplete letter, please submit the required document(s) as soon as possible so we may review your financial aid application and determine your financial aid offer.

When will I get my bill for the first semester?

The College will send your first bill mid-summer around July 15 and it will be due August 1. Your bill is issued through electronic billing (eBills). If you are receiving financial aid and have completed your financial aid paperwork, your financial aid award will appear on your bill as a credit.

Someone other than me will pay my tuition bill. How do I add them as an authorized user to my account?

If you would like to authorize someone else to view your account and pay your student account balance, you can add an authorized user, but not until you get your account info in the summer. Authorized users may be added and deleted as necessary, but only by the student. It is the student's responsibility to set up authorized users for their student account.

What is tuition insurance?

Occidental offers an optional Tuition Refund Plan, administered by GradGuard, which protects your educational investment by reimbursing tuition, housing, and meal charges should you need to withdraw from school due to a personal illness or accident. This plan extends and enhances the College's published refund policy. This plan is optional, but if you wish to participate in the plan, you need to submit an application with payment directly to GradGuard before the first day of classes

My first bill shows a charge for a double room. Does that mean I've definitely been assigned to a double?

The "double room" charge on your bill is only a holding charge, and does not guarantee that you will be placed in a double. Your bill will be updated accordingly when final room assignments are made in August. Questions about housing assignments or this charge on your bill can be directed to Residential Education and Housing Services.

What is student health insurance?

All enrolled students must have healthcare insurance that covers primary care services in Los Angeles County. Occidental offers a student health insurance plan through United HealthCare Insurance that covers primary, urgent, emergency, pharmaceutical and behavioral health care locally, nationally and internationally.  The Occidental Student Health Insurance Program (OSHIP) may be waived for students who are covered under a parent's policy or have other health care coverage. Learn more on the health insurance and documents webpage

How do I complete the health insurance waiver?

A student may waive the student health insurance plan by filling out an online waiver and providing proof of active health insurance that covers primary care services in Los Angeles County. A plan that only provides urgent and emergency care is insufficient to waive the student health insurance. Typically, plans that meet the minimums for the waiver are most PPO and POS plans, California-based HMO plans and Kaiser plans. Depending on your individual plan's rules, you may need to secure Away From Home coverage to qualify for the waiver. Insurances that usually do not meet the minimum requirement of the waiver include out-of-state HMO plans, Medi-Cal plans and state-sponsored Medicaid plans.

I want to bring my car to campus. Is this allowed?

New students are welcome to bring a car to campus. For more information about parking permits, rules and regulations, visit our parking and driving on campus webpage.

I'm not going to have a car. How can I get around?

While you may have heard the stereotypes about L.A. traffic, do not fear—there are several ways to explore the city without a vehicle, including the options below.

On foot: Occidental College is located in between two highly walkable neighborhoods (Highland Park and Eagle Rock), so it is easy to get a feel for the city through York, Eagle Rock and Colorado Boulevards.
Public transit: You can access public transit buses from the main boulevards, which will take you to the Gold Line station, Downtown, Glendale, and Pasadena. Plan a trip on the metro here.
Bengal Bus and Bike Share: In addition to public transit, you can take advantage of the Bengal Bus to run local errands, or rent a bike from the Bike Share Program.
ZipCar: You may want to consider a ZipCar membership. There are currently three ZipCars available for students to rent on campus by the hour or on a daily basis.
Ride Shares: Uber and Lyft are popular choices in the local area.
Asking a fellow resident of your hall for a ride to Target is also a great way to make friends!

How can I get to Occidental from the airport (and vice versa)? Is there a campus shuttle?

Traditionally, the Bengal Bus offers airport shuttles at the beginning and end of fall break (roundtrip), Thanksgiving break (roundtrip), winter break (roundtrip), spring break (roundtrip) and the beginning of summer (to airport only). As space and schedules are limited, you may also want to check out the SuperShuttle (discount code: OXYED) and Prime Time websites, or consider a rideshare service at your discretion.

What is there to do on campus?

Tons! Whether it be one of the many events hosted by our 100+ active student organizations or campus departments, there is always something happening on campus. If you are looking to get more involved in campus life, check out the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE) to see a list of all active clubs and learn about the free campus events they host regularly. Additionally, once classes start, stay up-to-date about what is going on by reading the daily campus email digest that includes information about events, field trips, job opportunities, etc. In addition to campus activities, many students choose to use the weekends to explore L.A.

Where do I go if I'm not feeling well? How do I make an appointment with the Wellness Center?

The staff of Emmons Wellness Center provides students with easily accessible, high-quality medical care and psychological counseling services. Should you need to take advantage of the offered services, call the center to make an appointment or check out their walk-in hours. Students also have access to TimelyCare, a virtual health and well-being platform. TimelyCare provides 24/7 access to on-demand medical care and emotional support, scheduled counseling and medical visits, and self-care content, from anywhere in the United States at no cost year-round.

I have dietary restrictions. Will there be enough food options in the cafeteria?

The Marketplace (commonly referred to as the MP) is allergen, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free-friendly and aware. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings are available at every meal. Standard labeling at meal stations includes the following: 

  • vl: vegetarian lacto/ovo, a vegetarian offering that contains dairy or egg products
  • v: vegan, a vegetarian offering that contains no dairy or egg products
  • gf: gluten-free. 

If you have special dietary needs, you can read up on our campus dining nutrition guides to familiarize yourself with our options and policies.

How important is my ID card?

Very! Your ID card serves multiple functions: it’s your residence hall/room key, your student ID, and your debit card for your meal plan, to name just a few. It will also provide you access to campus events and some buildings after hours. Therefore, it is important that you treat it just as you would your driver's license or bank card. Your first ID is free, but each replacement is incrementally more expensive. You can view replacement fees, and read more on the Your Oxy ID webpage.  

Mail throughout the year

Below is an example of how your mail (including packages, magazine subscriptions, express items and general correspondence) should be addressed. If having items shipped by UPS or FedEx, use the word "Unit" instead of "Box" to ensure it will be delivered.

Your first and last name
1600 Campus Rd
Box # (put your box number here)
Los Angeles, CA 90041-3314

Move-in Packages

Please address your packages as follows:

Your first and last name
Class of 202_
Occidental College
1600 Campus Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90041-3314

During orientation, the mailroom will be open so you can begin to pick up mail. Oversized packages will be available for pick up at the Facilities Stockroom.

What paperwork do I need to bring if I want to work on campus?

There are many employment opportunities available to students on campus through the work-study program. Students without a work-study award can also secure an on-campus job. You can see current job postings here. Should you plan to work on campus, you will need to bring original approved government-issued identification with you to campus so that you can complete the I-9 and W-4 forms in the Human Resources Department. You must bring original documents—copies will not be accepted.

Is there an ATM on campus? What banks are in the area?

An ATM is located inside of the Postal Operations Center, by the front counter. It is available for use when the building is unlocked (daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Within the neighborhood, there are also Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase Bank branches. Students also use the cashback feature at local retailers when making purchases instead of relying solely on a local bank branch.

What cell phone carrier should I use?

Being a major metropolitan area, most U.S. carriers service Los Angeles. Given the unique geography of L.A., however, some offer spottier reception than others. We find most of our students have the best experience with Verizon or AT&T.

Where can I find information about campus events? The academic calendar?

Upcoming campus events are listed on our events web page. You can also use the 2024-25 academic calendar as a helpful tool. Make sure to visit our Clubs & Organizations page, where you'll learn more about how to connect with groups (or start your own) on campus. 

Occidental's social media accounts are another great place to keep up with the latest on-campus happenings. 

If you have additional questions that the FAQ above didn't cover, please refer to our helpful contacts web page to find a list of offices most frequently contacted by incoming students.


Office of Admission
Collins House

1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041