The first pilot university orientation courses organised by the Normale were held at Erice in 1966; they became a permanent fixture in 1980, thanks to initial ministerial funding, and are still going strong.
The courses are sui generis compared to the traditional type of university orientation course: their intention is not to promote the teaching syllabus of the Normale but to make available to the participants the tools with which to identify and enhance their potential and passions and hence to choose their university courses with greater awareness.
The Orientation courses are for students of the penultimate year of upper secondary schools in Italy and abroad. Selected on the basis of merit, students admitted to the courses are hosted by the Normale during their stay, and take part in intensive programmes of lectures and conferences held by exponents from a wide range of disciplinary and professional contexts. In an atmosphere of dialogue and sharing with lecturers, tutors and peers, they have the opportunity to make aware, informed and well-thought-out choices about their future academic studies.
In addition to the courses organised autonomously by the Scuola Normale, 2017 saw the inauguration of the Scuola di Orientamento Universitario (the School of University Orientation), a joint initiative of the Normale and the Scuola Sant’Anna, with the aim of providing a more accurate knowledge of the teaching syllabus, the collegial life and the study system of the three Scuole.
Since 2023, the Scuola Normale Superiore has been organizing mini-courses called Orientation: a choice for your future. The courses are aimed at girls and boys who are currently in their final year of high school, to let them know the perspectives of university study through an active, participatory and laboratory teaching experience. The courses, created in the framework of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) funded by the European Union - NextGenerationEU, are born to facilitate and encourage the transition from secondary school to university and reduce the number of university dropouts.