Incoming First-Year & Transfer FAQ

Students overlooking LA at night at Griffith Observatory

You’ve got questions—we’ve got the answers (or can at least connect you with the offices that do)!

Fall 2020 Students

Orientation

Housing

Academics

Billing and Student Accounts

Local Transportation

Campus Life

Fall 2020 Students

What is the deposit deadline?

The deadline to secure a spot at Occidental remains May 1. 

If families are still working with financial aid regarding updates to their 2020 financial situation, they may request additional time until a final financial aid package can be secured. Students must log in to their application portal to submit the deadline extension request form.

We are unable to extend deposit deadlines for families who are hoping to visit campus. Since making an in-person visit to campus is not currently an option, we have created a robust resource for admitted students and families at oxy.edu/welcome. You will find videos of campus; interviews with current students; webinars about academic resources, housing, pre-health advising, and athletics; as well as direct contact information for faculty, staff and students.

Transfer students seeking deadline extensions must send a request to Maricela L. Martinez, Director of Transfer Admission, at mlimas@oxy.edu.

What if I want to defer my admission or take a gap year?

Each year, roughly 4-5% of incoming first-year students complete a gap year to work, travel or pursue compulsory military service in their country. Students who are interested in deferring their admission for a year should plan to deposit at Occidental by May 1 and then submit a request for a deferral. If students have secured a plan to take a gap year, they must log in to their application portal and submit a request for a Fall 2021 deferral by July 1.  

Incoming transfers students can request a deferral to Spring 2021. Please note that students are not permitted to enroll at any other educational institution during this gap year or single-semester deferral. 

What if Occidental moves to remote/online instruction for Fall 2020?

No decisions have been made about whether remote (or online) instruction will be in place this fall. If our academic program is online, we will examine what we ask our families to pay relative to our delivery of the Occidental academic program.

Will the way that Occidental awards AP/IB/A-Level credits change?

There are no changes to the way Occidental awards AP, IB and A-level credits this year, even with the changes made to the format of the test environments.  

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.

Will the way that Occidental awards Financial Aid/Merit change?

We recognize that many families have been impacted by the current economic conditions. Occidental College is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need of its students. Due to this commitment, the majority of Occidental’s financial aid budget is allocated to need-based grants. When family financial situations change, families can submit an appeal letter to the director of financial aid and, upon review, may be eligible for more need-based grants.

Merit-based scholarships are granted during the initial admission review process and are not eligible for appeal.

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Orientation

Now that I am committed to Oxy, what's next?

Between committing and June, the only thing you need to do is submit your final transcript to the Admission Office. In early June, you’ll receive additional information regarding required forms and important deadlines. At that time, it will be important to begin taking care of items on the to-do list in a timely manner; these forms should be completed by you (the student) and no one else. The new student website will walk you through your full list of to-do items. Otherwise, be sure to make the most of your last few months at home by spending time with family and friends.

When is Orientation? What should I expect during Orientation?

Visit the Orientation website to find the program dates. Orientation is designed to help ease your transition to Occidental. During the five-day program, you will meet new and current students as well as faculty and staff, register for classes and learn about the many resources and programs available to you on campus. We create a schedule that balances required activities with free time so you can get settled and begin to feel at home before starting classes. A full schedule will be made available in June.

*Note that international students will receive more information from the International Programs Office (IPO) about this program.

When should I plan to arrive to campus?

More information regarding 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.

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

A concurrent and separate orientation program is offered for family members. Family members are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this informative opportunity to learn more about Oxy and the resources available. During this time, we ask that family members kindly refrain from attending any of the student sessions. After the Family Orientation program concludes, all remaining activities are for students only, to allow students the opportunity to adjust to their new surroundings before beginning classes.

Where should my family stay during Orientation? When can they visit me?

Many family members choose to stay at hotels in nearby Glendale or Pasadena. Oxy provides a list of partner lodging providers, with some offering regular and special event discounts, that hopefully suit a variety of family needs and budgets. Learn more about local hotels here. Guests are welcome to visit you on campus whenever you feel it's most convenient.

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 probably have different types of questions. We encourage you to check out the Parent and Family FAQ here.

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Housing

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

After you have submitted the incoming student Housing Application (available online in June), Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS) uses a housing software roommate matching algorithm to provide the best possible roommates for students based on student responses and preferences. To get the best match, be sure to complete this form on your own and to be completely open and honest. This process takes some time, so please be patient; housing assignments will be sent out to your Oxy email in early August. Once you have received this info, be sure to reach out to your roommate(s) to talk about who will bring what, etc.

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, as well as a shared microfridge and microwave; rooms also have 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; for example, you don't need multiple clothing irons!

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, to how to request to change rooms.

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Academics

Where can I purchase the first-year common reading?

Information about the first-year common reading (including where you can buy it) can be found here.  (Fall 2020 selections will be available in the summer.)

How and when do I register?

Registration for the fall Cultural Studies Program (CSP) seminars happens online in late June. Information about this will be emailed to you, and detailed instructions for this registration process will be outlined on the New Student website. First-year students will register for their remaining classes during Orientation in August after meeting with their faculty adviser. There are also a few courses in math, chemistry, French, Spanish and German that you can register for during the summer after taking the relevant online placement test.

Transfer students are not required to take the CSP seminars, but are expected to complete the equivalent of two CSP Seminars (8 units or 2 courses). All incoming transfer students will register for classes during orientation.

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

We try to keep class sizes small to allow for high-quality in-class discussions and lots of interaction between students and professors. This means that occasionally a class that you want to take will be fully enrolled. When you're planning your schedule, be sure to find 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 can easily drop a course if a seat becomes available in a course you want to take.) Keep in mind that you'll have more opportunities to take these classes in future semesters throughout your Oxy career. Furthermore, the liberal arts curriculum is designed so that you can explore a wide variety of classes; keep an open mind and take 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 coming to campus?

Online placement tests are available for math, chemistry, French, Spanish and German. 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 economics or math should take the math placement exam.

Who is my faculty adviser? How are they assigned?

In June you'll be asked to fill out an advising form that asks questions 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 program. You'll meet with your faculty adviser during Orientation and periodically throughout the school year. You can change your faculty adviser at any time by filling out an adviser change form, getting a signature from your new faculty adviser and submitting it the Registrar's Office. Many faculty members are away from campus during the summer conducting research or working on projects, so it is not usually possible for new students to contact their advisers before Orientation. 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.

To get the most out of your meeting with your adviser during Orientation, you should come prepared with some general ideas of what classes you want to take and how you will fulfill your Core requirements. This summer you will be asked to fill out an Advising Information form, and you will receive a Schedule-Planning Worksheet to assist you with this process.

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

Once you've registered for classes at Orientation, you'll have time to visit the bookstore to buy the books you need for the classes on your schedule.

If you'd like to buy your books online in advance for your CSP course or any classes you know you've already been placed into through a placement exam, you can do so online and pick up the books when you arrive by visiting the Oxy 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 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, and you won't be charged shipping.

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

When you purchase on the Oxy Bookstore website or in-store you may choose to use your Student Account Voucher. This allows you to quickly and easily charge purchases to your student account to pay later. The Voucher is available thru Sept. 30. 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 Oxy ID to access your Voucher.

If you need to purchase items in the Bookstore after Sept. 30 and want to charge it to your Student Account, or if your books exceed $600, there is another fund called Bengal Bucks.  

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 choose to 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. Don't forget to follow up and check that the funds have been added. 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. 

You may charge any items in the Bookstore to your Voucher or Bengal Bucks.

When do I choose my major?

All students are expected to declare a major by the end of their sophomore year. When a student declares a major, they must switch to an adviser in their major department (unless their existing adviser is already in the relevant department).

Transfer students matriculating to Oxy with junior standing are expected to pursue the first choice major listed on their Common Application. The Registrar’s Office and corresponding department chair must approve any exceptions.

How many classes do I have to take each semester?

Most courses earn 4 units of credit. There are also courses that meet less frequently and earn either 1 or 2 units. A typical full-time enrollment is 16 units (generally four 4-unit courses), with a maximum of 18 units per semester allowed during your first year. To see what courses are being offered, visit Course Counts. While Occidental does not offer traditional summer courses, many students participate in internships 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.)

What is the Core Program?

All Occidental students must complete a Core program of required courses in order to ensure a broad education in the liberal arts and sciences. Visit the Core program website for more information about the requirements.

Except for the CSP Seminar requirement, the Core requirements for transfer students are identical to the Core requirements for students matriculating at Occidental in their first year.

What is the CSP? What seminars are being offered this fall?

The first courses in the Core program are your Cultural Studies Program (CSP) seminars. You'll take one CSP seminar in the fall semester of your first year and another in the spring. These are graduation requirements and cannot be dropped or deferred. In the fall, we will offer about 30 individual CSP seminars. While all of the seminars have the common goal of developing students' writing skills and encouraging critical analysis, they focus on a broad range of topics. More information about the Fall 2020 CSP seminars will be available this summer. Most CSP seminars are limited to 16 students. They are filled on a first-come basis, and there are no wait lists for CSP seminars.

Transfer students are not required to take the CSP seminars but are expected to complete the equivalent of two CSP Seminars (8 units or 2 courses). Transfer students may meet their Core requirements through equivalent courses taken before matriculation at Occidental, through the courses designated as meeting Core requirements taken at Occidental, or (as is the case for most transfer students) via a combination of both.

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

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. Note that credit and resulting placement is subject to review by the appropriate departments. Students should have exam scores sent directly to the College.

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

The Registrar's Office oversees all transfer 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. For more questions about transfer credit, please contact the Registrar's Office.

Can I take some of my Core classes back home during the summer? 

Work taken elsewhere during the summer may be accepted for credit toward a degree from Occidental, subject to advance 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 resources for students with disabilities?

Should you need any form of academic or housing accommodations please begin the process by completing the Request for Accommodations form, found in your myOxy, by July 1. (You'll need to wait until you get your myOxy login in the spring to access this.) Once you have completed this form, the Dean of Students Office will send you an email during the summer. If you did not attach your documentation to the online form, please email, fax or mail the documentation to the Dean of Students Office. For addresses and contact info, please visit us online.

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Billing and Student Accounts

When will I learn my financial aid award?

If you applied for financial aid, your award letter should be included with 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 tentative financial aid award. For more information on Financial Aid at Oxy, please review our 2019-2020 Financial Aid Policy Guide.

How do I access my bill?

You will be able to access your eBill by logging into your myOxy account, but not until you get your account this summer. Once logged in, select the Student Services tab and locate the eBill channel. Electronic Billing (eBills) is the official means of providing student account statements to all Oxy students. Student account eBill notifications are e-mailed on or around the 15th of every month, beginning in July. Notifications are e-mailed to your Occidental e-mail address and any authorized user's e-mail address.  More information about this is available from the Student Business Services Office.

When will I get my bill for the first semester?

The College will send your first bill on July 16, and payment will be due August 1.  Your bill will be 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 this 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.

To add an authorized user to your student account, log in to your Student Account, click the Authorized Users Tab and follow the prompts. The authorized user you have specified will receive an e-mail notification which contains an initial eBill password and login instructions. An e-mail notification will be sent to each address provided when a new eBill becomes available.

What is tuition insurance?

Occidental offers an optional Tuition Refund Plan, administered by GradGuard, which protects your educational investment by reimbursing tuition, room and board 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. Please click here to learn more about the plan.

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 early 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. There are no breaks in coverage, so you will be covered while on winter and summer breaks. Full details on Oxy's student health insurance plan through United HealthCare are available on the Emmons Wellness Center website. The Occidental Student Health Insurance Program (OSHIP) premium cost for the 2020-2021 academic year is $2,594, but may be waived for students who are covered under a parent's policy or have other health care coverage. If you do not waive the student health insurance, you will be automatically enrolled in the student health plan and the full amount will be billed to your student account. You can view the Emmons billing and insurance frequently asked questions or contact emmons@oxy.edu for more information.

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.

The deadline to waive will be announced this summer, but is generally in mid-August. Students who waive in the fall will be automatically waived in the spring. Students may also waive in the spring or add the student health insurance if their insurance needs change. The waiver can be found at jcbins.com.

If you are not planning on waiving health insurance, please visit the waiver website to “opt-in" to the health insurance plan. By doing this, you will be able to access and print your health insurance card. If you do not waive the student health insurance, you will be automatically enrolled in the student health plan and the full amount will be billed to your student account.

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Local Transportation

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

New students are able to bring a car with them to campus. For more information about parking permits, rules and regulations, visit Campus Safety.

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: Oxy 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 easily 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 & Bike Share: In addition to public transit, you can take advantage of the Bengal Bus to run local errands, or rent a bike from BikeShare.
ZipCar: You may want to consider a ZipCar membership.
Ride Shares: Uber & 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. So don't be shy and ask that student down the hall for a ride!

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

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 checkout the SuperShuttle (discount code: OXYED) and Prime Time websites, or consider a rideshare service at your discretion.

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Campus Life

What is there to do on campus?

Tons! Whether it be one of the many events hosted by our 150+ active student organizations or campus departments, there is always something going on on campus. If you are looking to get more involved in campus life, check out the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement to see a list of all active clubs and learn about the free campus events they regularly host. 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 Oxy students with easily accessible, high-quality medical care and psychological counseling services. Should you need to take advantage of the offered services, call (323) 259-2657 to make an appointment or check out their walk-in hours.

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

The Marketplace (Oxy's cafeteria) is allergen, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free conscious. 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. Should you have other dietary restrictions, check out the Campus Dining resources guide or contact campus dining.

How important is my ID card?

Very. Your ID card serves multiple functions, including your res hall/room key, your student ID and your debit card for your meal plan, laundry and vending, just to name a few. It will also provide you access to campus events and some buildings after hours. Therefore, it is very 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, which can eventually add up.

How do I ship my belongings to school? Where will I get my mail?

Student mail is important, and having it arrive in your hands in a timely manner is much more likely when mail is addressed correctly, using your newly assigned box number.

Your box number can be found by accessing your MyOxy account, then selecting "Update Addresses and Phones" under Student Services tab. Please be sure you share this box number with your family and friends who may wish to write to you.

All students receive mail at the Postal Operations Center (aka "the mailroom"), located on the first floor of the Johnson Student Center.

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 2024
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 several employment opportunities available to students on campus through the work-study program. You can see all 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 on the first floor of Johnson Student Center, near the Postal Operations Center, and is available when the building is unlocked (daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). This ATM is operated by the Glendale Area Schools Credit Union and assesses a $1 fee (plus whatever fees your bank charges for out-of-network ATMs). Within the neighborhood there are also Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank branches. Many students also frequently use the cashback feature at local retailers when making purchases in place of having 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 the college calendarYou can also use the academic calendar as a helpful tool.

Oxy's social media accounts are another great place to keep up with the latest Oxy happenings.

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If you have additional questions the FAQ above didn't cover, please check out the Offices & Departments page to find a list of offices most frequently contacted by incoming students.