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Pre-Orientation Programs

students participating in POST program

Did you know...

About one quarter of new students participate in a pre-orientation program.

Each year, Cornell offers innovative and unique pre-orientation programs to jump-start your college career.  These opportunities will help you discover pathways for leadership development and learning through a variety of settings.  Students arrive at Cornell early to learn about their classmates and themselves.  Involvement is completely optional and requires an application.  Some programs are free, and all offer financial assistance.   All of these programs are designed to:

  • ease your transition to life at Cornell through small group programs and activities
  • introduce you to fellow students who share similar interests
  • learn from, and be mentored by, upper-level students who will lead you through these programs
  • introduce you to opportunities that extend beyond orientation for personal growth and leadership development
  • provide a memorable start to your Cornell career.

Below is a brief description of each program, click on the links to learn more.

Chesterton House First Year Retreat

Join one of two pre-orientation programs offered by Chesterton House, a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell:

  • Chesterton House Overnight 2017 — This retreat is a 24-hour opportunity that helps transition students into their first year at Cornell. Join fellow new students in learning about life at Cornell and gleaning wisdom from upper-level students in the context of Christian fellowship through games, activities, Q&A and individual reflection.
  • Chesterton House La Vida Trip —Chesterton House is partnering with Gordon College's La Vida Expeditions to provide a wilderness-based experience for new students to explore their Christian faith in community. The expedition travels from Cornell to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. This scenic preserve creates the perfect environment for solitude, reflection, adventure, and growing deeper with God. 

Learn more about these programs. If you need assistance or would like to register, email

Cornell Catholic Community First-Year Retreat

Why wait for your Cornell experience to begin? Cornell Catholic's overnight retreat is an opportunity for you to meet new students, to learn from upper-level students, and to spend time centering yourself in prayer and reflecting on your faith. This one-day overnight retreat allows you to meet the Catholic Community Campus Ministry team and learn about the exciting ways for you to get involved as a student.

Hillel First-Year Fest

Start your college career off right by connecting with fellow Jewish students in the beautiful Ithaca outdoors.  You’ll discover the many opportunities to get involved in Jewish life at Cornell.  Experience much of what the Hillel community has to offer by getting to know upper-level students and Hillel staff. There will be social and group bonding activities all while spending time at the Cornell Outdoor Education grounds.  Learn more about the Hillel First-Year Fest.

Outdoor Odyssey

Outdoor Odyssey welcomes you to Cornell with a pre-orientation experience you will always remember!  Our four to eight-day-long trips provide a fun and meaningful transition to Cornell as you connect with peers from your own class, bond with upper-level guides, and enjoy the beautiful natural settings surrounding your new home. Founded in 1973, Outdoor Odyssey offers unique outdoor trips in areas including rock climbing, canoeing, backpacking, tree climbing, and biking. No experience is necessary!

Pre-Orientation Service Trips (POST)

Can’t wait to start your Cornell career? POST's goals continue to endure for participants: meet new people and friends, fulfill the Cornell tradition of performing community service, and get to know the local community beyond the Cornell campus. POST is led by upper-level leaders who will guide you, create a fun and memorable experience, and share valuable advice to ease your transition to Cornell. You’ll also learn about the opportunities that extend beyond orientation for community-service involvement.


The PREPARE program assists international students with their adjustment to U.S. culture and Cornell. Sessions on the U.S. academic system, health services and campus safety will prepare you for academic and personal success. Enjoy four days of fun-filled activities, make new friends from around the world, and meet the PREPARE upper-level student volunteers who are ready to welcome you, answer your questions and make you feel at home. Register for PREPARE by July 1.


Air Force – Participate in this leadership-focused pre-orientation program to learn more about the Air Force, Cornell and the community while getting to know current cadets and cadre. Activities may include a high-ropes course, introduction to Drill and Ceremonies, flight simulator, and ultimate Frisbee. There is no obligation to join the Air Force. 

Army – If you are interested in challenging yourself and having fun while doing it, then try out this program. Your participation will give you an idea of what being part of Army ROTC is like. Activities include a physical fitness assessment, swim assessment, daily workouts, hiking, camping, marching, learning how to navigate and survive in the wilderness, and if available, taking a helicopter ride.  There is no obligation to join the Army ROTC. Those unable to participate in pre-orientation are encouraged to sign up for the Army class as an elective.

Navy – Participate in this leadership-focused pre-orientation program to begin your development into a future Naval or Marine Corp Officer.  You will learn about the combined Naval and Marine Corps forward deployed and fighting forces, all while learning about our rich Cornell history and yourself.  Activities may include Physical Fitness Assessment, leadership vignettes, squad drill, introductory military instruction, and unique leadership challenges. We are looking for motivated students who focus on pushing themselves academically, physically, and mentally to become our nation's next leaders.  Participation is open to all interested students, and there is no commitment to join Navy ROTC.