Before Orientation Checklist

Before you are able to participate in orientation and register for classes, you must accept your offer of admission.

Accept your offer of admission

Register for orientation using the web address provided in the communication received from New Student Programs, if you have not already done so. You will receive a confirmation and instructions for next steps via email. Some academic programs will include required steps you need to take prior to your arrival on campus for OnCyte Orientation or before your virtual advising appointment.

OnCyte Orientation is recommended for all Cyclones, but we know online orientation may be a better fit for some. The OnCyte event is designed for those who would like to experience campus, prepare for their Iowa State journey, and connect with other Cyclones in person.

There are many hotel options in Ames and the surrounding areas for you and your family to stay during your visit.

Orientation is required, but you do not have to attend OnCyte. Our online orientation works better for some students and families. You may work at your own pace. Plan to set aside at least 3-4 hours to invest in the program. During this time, you will learn essential information about completing course registration and transitioning to Iowa State.

Completion of orientation is required to register for classes. Therefore, we suggest you finish online orientation a week prior to your virtual advising appointment.

By downloading the Iowa State Guides App, you will find these resources in the Orientation Guide:

  • Full schedule of events
  • Customizable checklists
  • Information about navigating campus
  • So much more!

Iowa State Guides App

Review and refer to the publications. These pieces will help you prepare for your orientation experience and transition to Iowa State.

First-year students: Request your high school submit an official copy of your final transcript to the Office of Admissions. If you’ve attempted any college credits while in high school, you must also request that the college(s) send us an official transcript.

Transfer students: Request your previous college(s) submit an official copy of your final transcripts to the Office of Admissions.

All new students are required to complete the online ALEKS mathematics and statistics placement assessment. ALEKS assesses your abilities and places you in the appropriate course. You cannot be registered for a math or statistics course until you have completed ALEKS.

Begin ALEKS early and invest at least two hours into the assessment. Taking ALEKS early allows you time to review your first attempt if you are not satisfied with your results. The assessment may be completed up to five times. You should take the ALEKS math placement assessment at least five days prior to your academic advising appointment and bring your scores with you to your academic advising appointment.

Summer entry students should log into Iowa State's sign on dashboard and search for ALEKS. For students Fall 2024 and beyond, you will either use Admissions MyAccount or Iowa State’s sign on dashboard and search for ALEKS. 

Complete ALEKS math placement assessment

If you want to continue studying a language at Iowa State you should take a placement assessment. This assessment helps determine at what level you should begin taking language courses at Iowa State.

Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish

Take the assessment(s) prior to your orientation. Each assessment will take about 20 minutes to complete. Print a copy of your assessment results and bring it to your academic advising appointment during orientation. You do not need to take the placement test if you have no prior background in the language.

Students of Arabic and Latin backgrounds with prior experience in the language should contact the World Languages and Cultures Advising Office for in-person placement: 3220 Pearson Hall or 515-294-7570.

Credit by exam

If you do not plan to study a foreign language in college but would like to earn credit for prior language studied, you may take one of the following exams: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Russian, or Chinese. Please refer to information on the World Languages and Cultures website for details.

Take placement assessments

World Languages and Cultures website

Set up your Net-ID (Iowa State email account).


You are encouraged to submit a photo for your ISUCard, your permanent university identification card, prior to coming to orientation. Visit the ISUCard Office website for more information.

ISUCard Office

Learn more about Iowa State's immunization requirements by visiting the Thielen Student Health Center website.

Immunization requirements

Log in to TRANSIT to see how your college course credits will transfer to Iowa State.


Students who have a documented disability are strongly encouraged to set up an appointment to meet with a Student Accessibility Services staff member during your orientation visit to discuss reasonable accommodations for your needs. Students who would like to request accommodations for orientation should contact SAS (515-294-7220 or at least two weeks in advance.

Student Accessibility Services

There are many hotel options in Ames and the surrounding areas for you and your family to stay during your visit.

First-year students starting classes in May, June, or August who are attending the 1.5 day OnCyte Orientation experience in June and their families are invited to stay in Maple Residence Hall. Discuss as a family which option is best for you.

Orientation lodging

In order to register for courses, you need to complete new student onboarding tasks in Workday.

Transfer students can begin in early April and first-year students can begin in early May.

During orientation, students will meet with an academic advisor and register for their first-semester courses.  Review this tutorial to understand how to register for courses using Workday