QUOTE(cobzz @ Nov 9 2006, 06:02 AM) [snapback]108064[/snapback]
My understanding, is that when starting decent, ATC will usually tell you your STAR or APP. You can then select the approapiate STAR or APP in the FMC.
STARs are almost always assigned to you while you're still on the ground at your departure airport when copying your IFR clearance. This doesn't mean that your STAR assignment might not be issued or amended at some point while enroute due to traffic or weather considerations, etc. And while some STARs will take you all the way to an IAF, others will just route you to a general area, where the local Approach controllers will provide radar vectors to a THEN assigned published or visual approach to your filed destination airport. In the latter case, it's common to have numerous airports sharing the same STAR.
Here's a good example of the latter type:http://22.214.171.124/d-tpp/0611/00198TRINITY.PDF
The destination in this example could be one of any number of airports in the Houston Area. But, you'll notice that, depending on the entry, it can begin as far away as SEMMES VOR in Mobile, Alabama!