New student orientation begins May 24

An estimated 5,600 would-be Cyclones will participate in student orientation between May 24 and June 28. Most are incoming fall freshmen who will attend one of 20 day-and-a-half sessions between May 29 and June 28; about 200 are transfer students who have a designated day-long session May 24 or June 1. Joining their students will be an estimated 9,000-plus parents and other family.

And while new student programs director Sarah Merrill knows her staff, 45 peer Cyclone Aides, and academic advising and financial aid specialists do some of the heavy lifting during the month, she said orientation succeeds when everyone on campus sees their role: offering directions to a building or office, taking a family photo near the campanile, or explaining how to get a CyRide bus to stop, for example.

Some students at orientation haven't picked their school yet. Maybe they're looking for the right fit or are still uncertain about finances, Merrill said.

"Orientation success is the success of the entire campus community," Merrill said, "and we're so grateful to everyone who helps us create that welcoming Cyclone atmosphere, who demonstrates 'we're here to help you be successful.'"

What they'll get done

In preparation for fall semester, orientation students will:

  • Pick up their student ID (ground floor of Beardshear Hall)
  • Register for their ISU email account (Parks Library)
  • Learn more about their academic program during a college information session (campus auditoriums)
  • Meet their academic adviser to discuss course options
  • Register for fall classes (assisted by Cyclone Aides, campus computer labs)
  • Explore Iowa State, on their own or in a campus, library, residence or recreation services tour

First year for community connections

Merrill and her team added a series of sessions this summer to help new students connect with Iowa State. Examples include freshman honors, marching band, choir options, multicultural student affairs, student accessibility services and the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success.

"They are new to orientation, but not new. These are programs or services Iowa State has been doing well for a long time," Merrill said. "We want to make sure all students know about them because they're important to students finding a community, finding their place at Iowa State."

Also new this year is a free app for mobile devices, Iowa State University Guides, to help students and families prepare for orientation before they arrive. It contains maps, parking instructions, schedules, a checklist, dining options and much more, tailored for transfer or first-year students. Apple and Android versions are available.


Students and family members staying overnight on campus will be housed in Willow Hall on the east side of campus. The Hixson-Lied Student Success Center across Beach Road is the check-in site where families will get materials and a schedule. They'll use Memorial Union or Maple-Willow-Larch dining facilities for breakfast, dining options across campus for lunch and the Union Drive Community Center for dinner.