What You Can Expect from Orientation Week This Fall in Canada

Just about now, there’s probably an email sitting in your inbox reminding you to register for orientation week.

Like almost every other aspect of the Fall 2020 semester, Orientation Week is moving entirely online. However, just because the format is a little different doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable experience.

This year, your school is getting creative and thinking outside the box to make sure you have a memorable start to this exciting new chapter. While many are still putting the finishing touches on an exciting schedule of virtual activities, here’s what you can expect from Orientation Week this year from Canadian schools.

What Is Orientation Week?

Orientation Week – often known as “Frosh Week” in Canada – is traditionally held the week before a new semester officially begins. It’s a week that goes by in a flash, but it takes many months of advance planning, which typically starts in the winter semester and involves many different departments from across the school.

It’s an exciting week that gives first-year students a taste of what they can expect from their university or college experience and an introduction to the wider community. Students are typically divided into teams, and from there into smaller groups of 15-20 that come together throughout the week to complete a series of fun activities designed to help them:

  • Meet their classmates
  • Discover their school’s unique traditions and history
  • Learn the ropes from upper-year students
  • Get to know their academic program
  • Learn about different clubs and organizations they can join

While Orientation Week brings together students from both near and far, it’s an especially valuable time for international students to make friends and establish ties to their new community. The aim of Orientation Week this year is no different. For many schools, international students like you are at the heart of their decision to move it entirely online and ensure that it’s still an inclusive week for all.

Read: “Student Perspective: 5 Things I Learned Taking Online Courses”

Illustration of student sitting at desk

Orientation Week Goes Virtual

Just because you can’t attend Orientation Week in person this fall doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have a great time and won’t start to build valuable connections! The teams planning your Orientation Week are working hard behind the scenes to include fun virtual activities like:

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Daily icebreakers
  • Escape rooms
  • TikTok challenges
  • Trivia and bingo
  • Netflix watch parties
  • Cooking shows
  • Painting, yoga, and fitness classes

While specific events will be slightly different at each school, you can expect:

  • A combination of live virtual and pre-recorded sessions
  • Live virtual sessions held at various times to accommodate different time zones – especially for events like Q&As
  • On-demand recordings in case you miss a live virtual event
  • The same opportunities to meet classmates, faculty, and upper-year students as in previous years


Illustration of computer screen

Toronto’s Centennial College has announced its online Orientation Week, with an exciting schedule of activities and helpful resources, including:

  1. Live online events on Microsoft Teams
    • School Welcomes – Get to know the Dean, Chairs, and other school supports
    • JAM (Just Ask Me) Sessions – Meet upper-year students and ask questions about their experience so far
    • Spotlight on Services – Learn more about available services and the support they offer
    • Student Mixer Sessions – Hosted by students for students
  2. Program information sessions – Meet faculty and fellow classmates, and ask program-specific questions
  3. Online discussion boards and community building exercises on the student app
  4. On-demand orientation information and videos

Introduction to an International Community

As an international student, there are a host of activities and sessions throughout the week designed especially for you. Upper-year students run most activities, and many are international students like you!

These students can offer invaluable support as you begin your transition to post-secondary education. They have first-hand knowledge of the same things you will experience, including studying online during a pandemic! Take advantage of this opportunity to ask them about their educational journey so far and any tips they have for success. It wasn’t so long ago that they were in your place, and they will be more than eager to help.

Learn: “5 Tips to Make the Most of Online Classes During COVID-19”

Pre-Orientation Week

You don’t have to wait until Orientation Week to get the party started!

Prior to Orientation Week, many schools encourage students to ask questions and connect with classmates and instructors via social media or the student app. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet other international students who are also beginning their post-secondary educational journey amid a global pandemic. Who knows, you might even lay the foundation for a new friendship that you can pick up in person when you eventually arrive in Canada.

While Orientation Week is undoubtedly going to be a little different this fall than in past years, it still promises to be an unforgettable experience – perhaps more so than ever. It’s a week that will set you up for success in your first semester and your entire post-secondary journey.

What are you most looking forward to about orientation week this fall? Drop us a line on Twitter (@ApplyBoard) or Facebook!