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What is Matriculation?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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In the academic community, the term “matriculation” is used to refer to the process of enrolling in school. The matriculation procedures and traditions vary from school to school. Some schools simply have paperwork which must be filled out, while others matriculate students with a ceremony, such as the white coat ceremonies used to celebrate the enrollment of new medical students. Typically, information about the matriculation process is sent out in the admissions packages mailed to students.

In the simplest version of matriculation, students need to fill out a form indicating that they plan to attend a school. They may be required to pay a deposit as well. The form is mailed back to the school, and the student is added to the list of students who are formally matriculated, which means that he or she will become eligible to register for classes and school services.

More commonly, matriculation includes filing an intent to attend, and attendance at an orientation session. During orientation, the student's completed coursework will be reviewed to determine class standing, and the student will have access to academic advising and registration. Student identifications are commonly issued, along with dorm keys, student handbooks, and other materials. Students may also be given tours of the school so that they can learn about the campus and the procedures which students need to follow, ranging from how to check out books at the library to how to make an appointment at the health center.

Some schools use matriculation as an excuse to hold a ceremony to welcome and celebrate new students. Students may attend a brief public address from a school official, and they may be treated to performances by the school band. The idea is usually to generate school spirit and loyalty so that students are enthusiastic about the institutions they attend, and excited about the new semester of school. These procedures also give students a chance to meet each other, and to start establishing connections and relationships which will be useful in the future.

Many schools distinguish between matriculated students who are attending a school with the intent of earning a degree, and non-matriculated students who are simply auditing courses. Non-matriculated students are not entitled to all of the services available to matriculated students, and they typically pay higher fees to attend classes, paying per unit rather than paying a bulk tuition fee. People may opt to audit for a variety of reasons, ranging from wanting to expand their horizons to wanting to work with a noted professor.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By ceilingcat — On Sep 13, 2011

@sunnySkys - That does sound like a wasted day. But I doubt you missed much. My orientation to college was extremely boring! I think they've changed the matriculation process a lot over the last few years though.

A friend of mine is going to grad school this fall, and she completed the entire process of matriculation online. She submitted her application and filled out all the necessary paperwork online. Also, her school offers the chance to do orientation online instead of in person!

My friend is going to be taking most of her classes online anyway, so she chose the online orientation. I know some people prefer to do things in person, but I think an online orientation is a great option to offer.

By sunnySkys — On Sep 12, 2011

I had a horrible experience when I matriculated to college. When I went for the mandatory orientation, I ended up spending the whole time in the health center. They had lost some of my paperwork and insisted I needed vaccinations I knew I already had!

I literally missed all the important parts of orientation to spend the day calling my doctors office and trying to get all the information in order. In the end, I ended up just getting the shots, though I knew I didn't need them.

I think it was a really poor choice on the part of the university to do that. There is no reason I couldn't have participated in the orientation day and then gotten the vaccination issue cleared up later!

By orangey03 — On Sep 12, 2011

The first thing I did at my orientation was attend a speech given by the dean of students. The auditorium looked fit for royalty. The tall curtains behind the stage were red and blue, the school colors. The plush chairs were set up like those at a movie theater.

The temperature outside soared, but this room was very cool. The dean emerged from backstage, dressed in a suit and tie, and he welcomed us and congratulated us on our acceptance. His speech was followed by a play acted out by older students, addressing issues that we might face on campus.

By kylee07drg — On Sep 11, 2011

The most exciting part about matriculation to me was scheduling my classes for the first semester. I had been home schooled for the last two years of high school, and I was ready for some real world classes again. Registering determined what my life would shape up to be in the coming months.

I followed the advice of my older cousin, who told me not to take too much my first semester. She recommended limiting my schedule to twelve hours so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

Once I signed up for an art class, history, math, and literature, I had two months to wait before my new life began. Matriculation offered me a view of things to come and provided me with anticipation.

By StarJo — On Sep 10, 2011

During my matriculation, I got my picture made for my student ID and tons of coupons to area businesses. I was given a gift bag packed with coupons on everything from pizza to textbooks. The campus bookstore offered some pretty good discounts on textbooks to newcomers.

The gift bag also contained a big cup with the university’s logo on it, a notebook, and several pencils. I thought it was a nice way to welcome new students.

Several of the people conducting orientation were current students there. They had useful advice to offer. They told us some teachers and situations to avoid.

By Perdido — On Sep 09, 2011

I remember going to orientation as a mandatory part of matriculation. It made me reconsider my decision to attend this college.

The tour guides and advisors didn’t seem to offer much useful information. It seemed that they rambled on about school spirit and how excited we should be. Sorority and fraternity life were a huge deal on this campus, and saw that I would most likely feel like an oddball for not pledging.

I was expecting much more from orientation. At the very least, I expected a thorough tour that stopped at essential places and described pivotal processes. What I got was a pep rally.

By animegal — On Sep 09, 2011

Later next year I will start to go through the college matriculation process and I am quite nervous. It seems like there are so many forms to fill out and so many events to go to. While I understand that schools want to improve the spirit, do they really all need an entire week of orientation?

I have also been surfing around and noticed some schools have a special matriculation syllabus! Does this mean I am going to have special classes before my real classes even start?

It all seems like such a big hassle. I just want to go to school and start, no matriculation required.

By popcorn — On Sep 08, 2011

Back when I started university matriculation was a big deal. We had to deal with a joint admissions and matriculation board and make sure that we had filled in oodles of paperwork to just get in for our interviews. This is not to mention the $200 admission fee we had to pay just so the university would consider us for the program.

I think if you are looking into different universities you should really investigate their matriculation practices so you don't end up jumping through so many hoops just to go to school. Not to mention, some orientations can be long and pricey.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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