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.