Cornell University

Pre-Orientation Programs

students participating in POST program

Did you know...

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

During the week prior to Orientation, new students can participate in one of several pre-orientation opportunities all developed to ease your transition to life at Cornell. Involvement is optional and requires an application. Some programs are free, and all offer financial assistance. These programs are designed to enhance the orientation experience by:

  • introducing you to fellow students who share similar interests through small group programs and activities
  • learning from, and being mentored by, upper-level student leaders
  • experiencing opportunities that extend beyond orientation for personal growth and leadership development
  • providing a memorable start to your Cornell career

Program Options

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

Chesterton House First Year Retreat

Chesterton House, a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell offers this 24-hour retreat to help students transition 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.

Learn more about the Chesterton House pre-orientation program. Email for assistance or registration.

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, learn from upper-level students, and spend time centering yourself in prayer and faith reflection. 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

Meet other Jewish first-year students and connect with upper-level students who will show you 'the ropes' through this overnight experience with Hillel. You will move into your residence hall one day early, before traveling to the nearby Hoffman Challenge Course. After the ropes course, games, s'mores, and a night under the stars, you will be ready to begin your Cornell careers with a great group of friends.

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)

Pre-Orientation Service Trips (POST) offers a unique opportunity for incoming students to explore and engage with the Ithaca community. The program includes daily community-service projects coupled with fun evening events to acclimate you to the Cornell and Ithaca communities. POST is led by a group of diverse student leaders who play a pivotal role in your transition to Cornell. This program is sponsored by the Cornell Public Service Center, where you can continue to participate in community-engagement throughout your Cornell career.


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


Air Force ROTC – 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. The one-day orientation activities may include a high-ropes course, introduction to Drill and Ceremonies, flight simulator, and ultimate Frisbee. Participants are not obligated to join the Air Force, but students who attend are encourage to sign up for the full Air Force ROTC program.

Army ROTC – 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.

Navy ROTC – Participate in this leadership-focused pre-orientation program to begin your development into a future Naval or Marine Corps 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.