Cornell University

Pre-Orientation Programs

students participating in POST program

From wilderness excursions to community service, about one quarter of new students participate in a pre-orientation program.

During the week prior to Orientation, you 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 details about each program.

Chesterton House's Veritas Academy is an overnight, residential experience for incoming Cornell first-year and transfer students. Led by Chesterton House staff and upperclassmen, this experience helps incoming students ask the big questions, design a meaningful college experience, learn practical tips, and build a faith community among peers—all before Cornell Orientation begins. Please join us to connect and prepare for your Cornell experience!

Cornell Catholic Community First-Year Retreat

Cornell Catholic Community is excited to welcome you to Cornell! Led by Director Fr. Daniel McMullin, the campus ministry team, and student leaders, this two-day retreat at the beautiful Christ the King Retreat House will allow you to meet other incoming students and to start off your campus faith journey on the right foot! During this retreat, there will be opportunities for learning, praying, and playing, including informal group sessions led by upper-level students, mass and night prayer, time for reflection about your transition to college, and plenty of hanging out and fun activities including a barbecue and pool party.

Hillel First-Year Fest

We're so excited to welcome you to campus! Do you want to meet Jewish new students and get the inside scoop about Jewish life at Cornell? We've got you covered! In this program, you will spend an overnight with other new students in the beautiful outdoors, experience the Hoffman challenge course, connect with other new students, and get to know upper-level students and Hillel staff. You will participate in a lowropes course, team-building exercises, and enjoy s'mores and camping in a yurt. Kosher meals will be provided. Register for 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-Collegiate Summer Scholars Program

If you are participating in the Pre-Collegiate Summer Scholars Program, you are expected to complete all of the required items on this site. However, be aware that your deadlines may be earlier than those posted on the site. You will also have additional requirements to complete. Staff will communicate with you directly regarding these requirements and deadlines. 

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 while transitioning to college life at Cornell. The program includes daily community-service projects coupled with fun, group evening events to acclimate you to the Ithaca and Cornell communities. Build new friendships and college networks while being guided by a diverse group of student leaders, all former POST participants. POST is sponsored by the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement, where you can continue to participate in community engagement throughout your Cornell career. Register for POST early because space is limited.

PREPARE: Pre-Orientation Program for International Students

The Office of Global Learning invites you to join hundreds of other first-year and transfer international students at Prepare this August. Prepare gives international students an early start on their Cornell experience and will help you adjust to U.S. culture and to Cornell. Sessions on the U.S. academic system, immigration, campus resources, U.S. diversity topics, health and safety, and student panels will prepare you for academic and personal success. Enjoy social activities around campus and beyond, and make new friends from across the world. Our Prepare mentors are ready to welcome you, answer your questions, and make you feel at home. While the Prepare schedule isn’t final yet, we will post our dates and details soon. Prepare normally starts three to five days before regular orientation and you will be able to move into campus residence halls early. If you would like to attend Prepare, we encourage you to hold off setting your travel until our dates are set, and keep checking the Prepare page for updates.

Residential Sustainability Leader (RSLs)

Residential Sustainability Leaders (RSLs) is a volunteer program open to all Cornell students who want to learn about climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice. RSLs develop teamwork and leadership skills, and build a culture of sustainability across the campus community. The program kicks off with a 1.5 day pre-orientation retreat, where you will participate in engaging teambuilders and informative workshops, plan sustainability initiatives, and bond with a dynamic team of students, faculty, and staff committed to making real change happen on campus and beyond.

ROTC Army

If you are interested in challenging yourself and having fun while doing it, then try out the  Cornell Army ROTC Experience!  We CARE about your success at Cornell.  Activities include a physical fitness assessment, swim assessment, daily workouts, hiking, camping, marching, learning how to navigate and survive in the wilderness. You’ll be mentored by current students from different colleges and concentration areas. There is no obligation to join the Army ROTC. Register here to sign up for this program.