First-year and Transfer Students

On-Campus Plans

(updated 7/20/20)

Current trends in infection rates across the country, especially here in Iowa which now has the second highest infection rate per capita in the Midwest, are deeply concerning. In addition, the  number of cases in individuals between 18 and 40 years old is growing. Unless this trajectory changes, it is clear that the healthcare infrastructure available along the I-80 corridor in Iowa (identified in our dashboard) will be severely stressed to accommodate the rising tide of infections, and the illness and hospitalizations that follow. Without a significant shift in public policy to curtail the spread of the virus, based on the consultation team’s recommendations, we have reconsidered our plan to bring first-year and transfer students to campus for Fall Term 1 — the first 7.5 week term.

It is thus with a heavy heart that, after consulting with campus leaders and the Board of Trustees Executive Committee, and discussing a multitude of options, we have determined that Fall Term 1 classes will be offered remotely and that we must delay the arrival of first-year and transfer students in an effort to further limit the number of students on campus. In so doing, we join the many other schools across the country who have come to similar conclusions in their regions. We know how disruptive these changes are as we continue to prioritize the health of our students, faculty, staff, and deeply inter-connected community.

With limited exceptions, we will actively plan for the following groups to live and learn on-campus during these corresponding terms: 

  • Fall Term 1: Small number of students approved for continuous residence, who will remain on campus for most or all the academic year 
  • Fall Term 2: Third-year students and mid-year graduates 
  • Spring Term 1: First-year students 
  • Spring Term 2: Second- and fourth-year students 
  • Summer Term: Optional term to meet academic needs that arise 

(updated 7/27/20)

As you know, Tutorial is the first and only required course at Grinnell outside of a major. Tutorial sections have all been arranged for Fall Term 1. Due to the unusual circumstances of the pandemic, a limited number of first-year students (e.g., international students who were unable to obtain a visa in time for Fall Term 1) were approved for a spring arrival. We intend to honor the deferrals that have already been approved and provide students enrolling for the first time (with no online classes in the fall) with Tutorial in Spring Term 1. Unfortunately, no additional space in Tutorials is available for students who have not already been approved for a deferral until Spring Term 1. 

First-year students who are not already approved for a spring arrival may either enroll online in the fall and come to campus for Spring Term 1 or request a gap year until the Fall of 2021. If you would like to request a gap year, please email Sarah Fischer, Director of Admission, at, and provide a brief explanation for why you want to take a gap year. For full consideration, gap year requests should be submitted no later than July 31 and will not be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. If the number of gap year requests exceeds our capacity to accommodate them, we will use a lottery system to determine whose request to approve. Those who are not awarded a gap year will be required to enroll this year. The admission office will notify students as soon as possible whether or not their gap year request has been approved.

If you are a first-year student who would like to learn more about our limited continuous residency program, please click here for information about eligibility and the petition processThe deadline for submitting a petition for this program is July 31.

Advising and Registration

New students can now prepare to choose classes for fall 2020 and begin your liberal arts education. Here are the most important tasks and deadlines:

July 1-10: Choose your First-Year Tutorial class (GrinnellShare login required)

July 1-15: Complete the Advising Information Form so your adviser can learn about you

July 1-24: Read this guidance carefully to prepare for registering for the rest of your classes

July 27-31: Advising Week                           

August 3-7: New Student Registration Week

August 24: Fall term 1 classes begin

August 24-August 31: Add/drop period for fall term 1 classes

Key Dates and Deadlines for Incoming Students

The Incoming Student Checklist provides detailed instructions and links to many important summer tasks. Students will log in to GrinnellShare to find the forms and complete the checklist items.

Family Orientation

Our new students and their families live across many time zones and countries, but you are now all Grinnellians and we are determined to help you share common experiences, even when we must offer them at different times to ensure that everyone may participate. We will schedule at least two times for Family Orientation so that all of our families, wherever they are in the world, are able to join. Sarah Moschenross — our associate vice president of student affairs, who leads a committed group of student affairs professionals — and her team will provide more information about Family Orientation in the coming weeks.

New Student Orientation (NSO): Online

If you plan to be enrolled either on campus or online this fall or spring, we will include you in online orientation this August. These sessions will help prepare you for a successful experience at Grinnell, especially during the first year. Look for more information from our NSO team as details become available this summer.

New Student Orientation (NSO): On Campus

A physical, on-campus New Student Orientation will be provided whenever students arrive in Grinnell. Among other things, this component of NSO will provide opportunities for community building among students living on campus, public health protocols, expectations for living in Grinnell, and an introduction to on-campus services and buildings. Even though physical distancing will be a part of the campus life experience, social connectedness with your classmates, faculty, staff, and advisers certainly will be part of our earliest and ongoing encounters for on-campus students. More detailed plans about these experiences will be shared in the coming weeks.

Fall 2020 Transfer Credit Policy Exception for the Class of 2024

First‐time, first‐year students are limited to a maximum of 24 approved pre‐ and post-matriculation transfer credits. This includes credits from AP, IB, A‐level and/or CAPE examinations, as well as college-level classes taken at a community college or as a non‐degree‐seeking student at a 4‐year institution. For the Fall 2020 semester only, students are permitted to take as many classes as desired at another institution as a non‐degree‐seeking student prior to enrollment at Grinnell; however, a maximum of 24 credits will transfer. Students that matriculate as a degree‐seeking student at another institution will be considered transfer students to Grinnell. No transfer courses will be articulated to replace Tutorial at Grinnell. Requests for exceptions to the 24‐credit transfer maximum should be directed to and will be considered by the Committee on Academic Standing.

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