A group of people walking by the ram horns statue outside of the University Student Commons.
Orientation sessions kick off in June and end Aug. 18, ushering thousands of new Rams onto campus to prepare for their VCU experience. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By the numbers: Here’s an insider’s breakdown of VCU orientation

Ahead of the next school year, thousands of new Rams will visit campus this summer, and it takes a lot – of people, effort, coffee and more – to welcome them.

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Summertime means beaches, popsicles and sunscreen, but with an eye toward the new school year, it’s also time for orientation at Virginia Commonwealth University.

At some (usually smaller) schools, orientation is a single session that lasts several days or a week. But at VCU, incoming students flock to campus in groups throughout the summer. During these sessions, thousands of new Rams – and their families – get their first big taste of what their VCU experience will be like, and for some, orientation is their first time setting foot on campus. The goal is to acclimate incoming students to VCU, have fun and make new friends in the process.

For a sense of how orientation is a major undertaking, here are a few numbers that capture the logistics, scheduling, people and hard work behind the scenes that make it all come together.

Text that reads \"~6000\"

Almost 6,000 new students

Roughly 4,300 first-year students and 1,600 transfer students are expected to attend orientation this summer. In addition, families and supporters are strongly encouraged to attend – there are special programs scheduled at the same time as the student sessions, as well as events that everyone can attend together. Even younger siblings are welcome to come along for the ride and become part of the Ramily.

Text that reads \"30 days\"

30 days

There are 11 first-year sessions, and they each take place over two days. There are also eight half-day sessions for transfer students. The sessions start June 12 and wrap up Aug. 18, and they are available based on the college or school reflecting the student’s major.

The number 37

37 orientation leaders

A team of 37 enthusiastic, trained current students serve as orientation leaders, and along with three professional staff and two graduate interns, they act as guides, cheerleaders, problem-solvers, question-answerers and planners to make orientation an engaging and valuable experience that prepares new students for life at VCU.

The number 45

45 hours of training

Each orientation leader completes 45 hours of training so that they are ready to answer the many questions incoming students and their families have. Orientation leaders are paid, and the service qualifies as a REAL experience. (Every student must complete at least one VCU REAL experiential learning experience to graduate.)

Text that reads \"over 50\"

Over 50 VCU departments and offices

The orientation team works with more than 50 VCU units to make the sessions valuable to new students and their families. From Housing and Residential Life, VCU Police and University Academic Advising to VCU Athletics, the da Vinci Center and the Office of Alumni Relations, everyone works together to make orientation a holistic experience that gives students a well-rounded crash course in all things VCU.

Text that reads \"over 5000\"

Over 5,000 wishes

It is VCU tradition for first-year students, as part of orientation, to walk by the Ram horns sculpture outside The Commons, touch the horns and make a wish for their time at VCU. Plenty of new transfer students also make a wish — it’s an optional part of their half-day orientation sessions.

The number 42

42 polos for staff

Aside from the warm, friendly smiles on their faces, black VCU polo shirts and city street name tags make it easy for new students to identify orientation leaders and staff who can answer questions and point them in the right direction. And on rainy days, orientation leaders will sport cheerful VCU gold rain jackets.

The number 23,875

23,875 giveaway items

Every student leaves orientation with black-and-gold souvenirs to take home – it’s a big order of VCU water bottles, bags, notebooks, etc. that allow students and their families to show their Ram pride.

The number 433

433 gallons of coffee

Orientation, and the weeks of planning and training that lead up to it, is a whole lot of fun, but it is busy, busy, busy. Plenty of caffeine and hundreds of cups are needed to fuel these high-energy events.