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Bonner Orientation - Overview

Page history last edited by Rachayita Shah 2 years, 10 months ago

Front Page / Bonner Program Resources / Bonner Orientation / Overview



Bonner Orientation

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


Bonner Orientation is a Bonner student’s first experience with the Bonner Program. Bonner Orientation should imbue students with a sense of identity as well as community, and basic knowledge with which to begin their work in the Program.


  • By identity, we wish to convey that students gain a sense of what the Bonner (Scholar or Leader) Program is and a feeling of belonging to it.
  • By community, we mean a sense of who the staff and peers are that comprise the Bonner community, by class, by campus, or both.
  • Campuses also selectively include the basic knowledge of the mission, values, and purpose of the campus program, the nuts and bolts of Program requirements, and an introduction to community partners. 


After Bonner Orientation, the campus should have a 1st-semester plan designed for first year students. This plan would intentionally expose new Bonners to a range of skill- and knowledge-building opportunities that will be critical to student success in the program.




Having clear objectives is one of the keys to a successful Bonner Orientation. Although Orientation is structured differently at different schools, the general objectives are usually the same and should include:


  • Providing a genuine welcome;
  • Building a spirit of support and teamwork with other Bonners;
  • Fostering positive perceptions about the program;
  • Confirming the student’s decision to join the program;
  • Introducing fundamental program expectations and processes that each new Bonner Scholar/Leader should know; and
  • Putting Bonners at ease about the new challenges of college and service.


Critical Components

While each campus will design the Bonner Orientation around their Bonner Program and particular campus culture, the following are critical components to be included in the Orientation.    


  • Welcoming and community building
  • Orientation to the National Bonner Program and Network
  • Introduction to Bonner Program guidelines 
  • Orientation and introduction to the campus structure 
  • Orientation and introduction to the surrounding communities
  • Personal and cultural awareness
  • An opportunity for personal reflection 
  • If possible, include other relevant training and enrichment workshops as part of the Orientation. Make sure to teach communication techniques and tools that are useful for groups through modeling and using these techniques throughout the Orientation (e.g., icebreakers, group building, how to get the group’s attention, effective dialogue activities).


This graphic might help you focus your programming. You can find a whole set of slides to help you under Documents to Download.



While we do not set a minimum time frame for a Bonner Orientation, at most campuses a Bonner Orientation lasts one to two days. On a few campuses, Bonner Orientations take place for as long as five days. We suggest keeping the Orientation long enough to cover all essential content. 



The Bonner Foundation expects all Bonner Programs to hold the Freshmen Bonner Orientation prior to the start of the school year, to ensure that freshmen Bonners successfully transition into the college environment.