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Is this College Orientation or Summer Camp? 5 Schools with Awesome Orientation Trips

Is this College Orientation or Summer Camp? 5 Schools with Awesome Orientation Trips
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Noodle Staff June 13, 2012

From biking to hiking to farming, these college orientation programs will have you meeting fellow student while you're having fun.

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These programs offer a variety of advantages to incoming freshmen students, allowing them to meet new friends before the school year starts and get outside of their comfort zones before moving away completely.

The most common programs revolve around outdoor activities and adventures and usually take place in the summer, between June and August. According to a recent study, about 11% of colleges offer outdoor adventure programs for incoming freshmen. Although there are programs based around the arts, community service and future careers.

Here are 5 schools with exceptionally interesting or extensive pre-orientation options:

Colby College

Colby pretty much invented the outdoor pre-orientation program, where it goes by the name COOTS. Participation is required of all freshmen students and they offer sessions in the summer and during the January/Winter term. Each program costs $275 and lasts for 3 or 4 days. This year's options include:

Summer Programs:



Rock Climbing

Sea Kayaking



Cooking with Local, Sustainable Foods

Mindfulness and Meditation


Winter Programs:

Dog Sledding


Ice Climbing

Cross Country Skiing

Primitive Skills (We're not sure what this entails but it sounds pretty hard-core).

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth offers a ton of outdoor trips for incoming freshmen. Each program costs $200 and lasts 5 days. This year's programs include:**

Cabin Camping




Hiking and Yoga

Hiking (there are 4 different programs for varying levels of experience and intensity)

Horseback Riding

Flatwater Kayaking

Whitewater Kayaking

Mountain Biking


Community Service

Nature Exploration

Nature Photography

Nature Writing and Art

Outdoor Education

Organic Farming

Washington University in St. Louis

WashU's programs are primarily related to possible career or extracurricular interests. Most cost $200-$300 and take place on-campus in St. Louis. This year's options:

As Seen on WUTV

Campus Comedy

EnDesign (Focuses on engineering problems)

Freshmen Press (An introduction to college journalism)

Habitat for Humanity

Hot Lasers and Fast Atoms (Focuses on cutting edge chemistry and physics research)

IDEA: Innovation, Discovery, Experience, Action (A program for budding entrepreneurs)

KWUR: Adventures in Radioland

LAUNCH (Group activities and team building at a lakeside summer camp)

Leading Your Way: Exploring Leadership for Women

Leadership Through Service

Louder than a Grenada (Focuses on Poetry and spoken word)

Medicine and Research Connections

Student Union: Leading Wash U Style

The Wilderness Project (Outdoor activities such as climbing and hiking)

The Burning Kumquat (Organic farming)

World of Politics

Pomona College

Pomona's programs are free and last for 4 days. They take advantage of the surrounding nature and nearby National Parks such as Sequoia and Yosemite. Programs include:**

Backpacking Adventure

Beach Adventure


Camp Outdoor Activities

Community Engagement

Lake Adventure


Sea Kayaking

Sequoia National Park


Yosemite National Park

The College of William and Mary

William and Mary is one of the only public colleges to offer pre-orientation programs. At William and Mary, the program is called 7 Generations and offerings are focused on community service throughout Virginia. This year's options include:**

Heritage (Students volunteer at the Humane Society)

Hunger (Students volunteer at soup kitchens)

Access to Housing and Healthcare (Students look at access to affordable housing and healthcare)

You can find a complete list of schools that offer outdoor pre-orientation programs here.

Image Sources: Colby College; Dartmouth; Washington University in St. Louis; Pomona College; Wiliam and Mary

Previously: Has Online Learning Become Mainstream?

Next: Flowchart: What to Read This Summer


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