Colgate Returns To In-Person Pre-Orientation Programs for Class of 2025

Over 370 first-year students arrived on Colgate’s campus to partake in a variety of pre-orientation programs before the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester. Programs, which ran from Tuesday, August 17 through Saturday, August 21, include Wilderness Adventure (WA), the International Student Orientation (ISO), Colgate Raider Pep Band, Intro to Campus Events and Communities with the Student Activities Association, First@Colgate, Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS) and Questbridge scholars, Community Outreach, Alumni Memorial Scholars, WRCU Broadcast Media and Journalism and Digital Media 101 with The Colgate Maroon-News. This is the first in-person pre-orientation programming since Fall 2019. 

With 209 participants, including both students and orientation leaders, Wilderness Adventure is the largest of the pre-orientation programs. It is separated into 18 different adventures including backpacking, canoeing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and conservation.

“This year’s Wilderness Adventure ran much closer to a typical WA than last years with only minor alterations to ensure COVID precautions,” Wilderness Adventure Coordinator Jacob Licker said. 

These alterations included but were not limited to measures such as testing participants prior to their arrival and masking while driving to the adventure sites. 

“This program was a much-needed return to normal after the last two years of my Colgate career were changed by the ongoing pandemic,… and it helped me to begin the process of acknowledging how much was lost,” Licker said.

Another pre-orientation program was the Introduction to Campus Events and Communities program, in which students worked together to plan a variety of activities for the Colgate community this year. These activities — which include a makeup prom for students who missed it due to the pandemic and bringing therapy dogs to campus to help students cope with stress — aim to get new students excited about the upcoming semester.

“Even though we aren’t completely back to what I got to experience during my first year, it’s fun to be a part of the planning to give our first-years the proper Colgate welcome they need to kick off their time at Colgate,” Student Activities Coordinator and junior Triniti West said. “It’s great to finally see the results of all our efforts to protect one another and the community while still giving our students the quintessential college experience.”

Over the next few months, students can expect to see the work of the first-year students in this program pay off with such activities as Wingo (Wing Bingo) and a color run, as well as a campus-wide scavenger hunt to be held Sep. 10, according to first-year Katie Maratea, a participant in the Introduction to Campus Events and Communities program.

“Having the opportunity to plan the scavenger hunt has allowed me to get excited for upcoming events and challenged me to explore things I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do,” Maratea said.

In addition to leading first-years through the Introduction to Campus Events and Communities pre-orientation, West is also an OUS Scholar meaning that, as a first-year, she attended Colgate’s Summer Institute as part of the First@Colgate, OUS and Questbridge scholars pre-orientation program. This July, 44 first-year students arrived on campus to quarantine and then participate in the program. 

Although the pandemic made these new students’ time at the Summer Institute look quite different from West’s, she believes the strength of the connections formed between them was quite similar. 

“It is admirable to see the bond between the class year below in spite of the hardships they overcame during such a sensitive time with the workload they had,” West said. 

Composed of only two students and twelve leaders this year, the Pep Band pre-orientation program is the smallest of this year’s programs. Students of all musical levels can participate in the Colgate marching band and perform at a Raiders game. 

“Coming into Colgate I was nervous that it would be difficult to connect with people quickly, but once I met the pep band, I immediately felt welcomed… Plus the music we play is really fun, and I can’t wait for the performances to get going,” first-year Lilly Sweeney said.

Twenty first-year students participated in the Community Outreach pre-orientation program, which aimed to bring students together through acts of service in the local Hamilton community and beyond. This year, students helped build a new playground at Sherburne-Earlville Elementary School, served meals at Hope House in Utica, cleared trails along the Chenango Canal, helped clean up outside of Rescue Mission in Utica, cleared the Towpath with Southern Madison Heritage Trust and took care of animals at Chenango SPCA.

“Community Outreach helped me to get settled before the rest of the class came and things got hectic. [The student leaders] made the experience so much better and made me feel at home here at Colgate,” first-year Julia Goosay said.

With seven students and ten leaders, the Journalism and Digital Media program introduced first-year students to The Colgate Maroon News. Through learning about the importance of student journalism, practicing interviews and writing their own articles, students become familiar with the process of writing for a student-run paper.

First-year Karenna Warden was one of the participants in the Journalism and Digital Media pre-orientation and said she plans to write for the Maroon-News in the years to come. 

“Having the unique experience of writing articles and interviewing members of the Colgate community as soon as we stepped onto campus definitely brought us together. I can’t wait to spend more time with both first years from the Maroon-News pre-orientation and senior members as the year continues,” Warden said.

Another pre-orientation program focused on getting students involved in media production is the Broadcast Media program. This pre-orientation introduces first-year students to WRCU, Colgate’s own community radio station and the largest student-run organization on the campus. Over the course of the pre-orientation, students learn from experienced student podcasters and radio DJs about audio production, storytelling and the importance of broadcast media on campus. 

“I’ve really enjoyed brainstorming concepts for radio shows… because these kids are so freakin’ creative… Some of them have really, really good ideas for shows, and that has been really gratifying,” Program Director and senior Trixie Yoo said. 

In addition to the above elective pre-orientation programs, there are also two required programs, International Student Orientation (ISO) and the Alumni Memorial Scholars (AMS) program, for international students and Alumni Memorial Scholars, respectively. Over the course of the week, students in these programs are given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Colgate campus, facilities and other resources Colgate has to offer, as well as the students in their groups.

“Last year, this whole orientation was virtual, and so this year is much more fun,” ISO leader Sahil Lalwani said. “… I think what makes me hopeful for the return to normalcy is that [this] orientation looks similar to what I had seen pre-pandemic.”