Pre-Orientation Experience

Union offers innovative, optional Pre-Orientation (Pre-O) programs to give incoming students a jump-start on their college experience. These programs are a great way to get settled into campus a few days early and to make connections with peers, student leaders and staff even before orientation begins.

Pre-O participants can expect to be engaged in full days of Pre-O activities from about 8am to 9pm each day with all meals and snacks provided and ample breaks throughout the day.

Choose from three experiences that offer discovery of local culture and community engagement, leadership development, or exposure to the outdoors.

  • Community & Culture Pre-O
  • Leadership Pre-O
  • Outdoor Pre-O

International Students are required to attend Global Orientation. F-1 Visa regulations require International Students to participate in this mandatory program, therefore International Students cannot also participate in a Pre-Orientation Program.

Our Programs

  • Community & Culture Experience

    The Community & Culture Pre-Orientation is designed to further develop a student’s passion for community engagement and culture. Students are introduced to the Capital Region with its many community service opportunities, dining experiences and cultural attractions. The Community and Culture Pre-O experience allows participants to create life-long friendships with both their classmates and older students, while bonding over service projects and the local community. Students will be placed in small groups to explore the city, enjoy local restaurants and participate in fun group activities.

    Participants will:

    • Get involved in the local community through engagement and learning about local arts and culture opportunities by working with and visiting various organizations and attractions.
    • Transition more easily into college life. By the time first-year orientation begins, they will have made new friends and know their way around campus and Schenectady.
    • Make meaningful connections with professional and student staff. They will get to know their group leaders—sources of great advice and inside information about Union—and make connections that last for their entire college experience….and beyond.
    • Have fun and learn about Schenectady and the Capital Region. The social portion of the program is a lot of fun! Schenectady has so much to do and see with lots of great restaurants very close to campus.
  • Leadership Experience

    The Leadership Pre-Orientation program is packed with fun activities and experiences that are designed to help new students get connected and involved on campus, learn important leadership skills, and get to know their peers. It doesn’t matter what your level of leadership experience was before coming to Union – this pre-orientation program will help you discover your interests and help you find your fit!

    First-year students have a host of opportunities for leadership at Union starting day one. Upper-class mentors will provide valuable information and helpful tips about how to take advantage of all that Union has to offer so you can find your connection to the Union community.

    Participants will:

    • Learn about the hundreds of leadership opportunities that exist at Union
    • Explore their personal leadership styles and gain skills that they can apply to their leadership experiences
    • Discover different lenses of leadership through immersive activities involving service, multiculturalism, and inclusion
    • Participate in various team building activities throughout the course of the program, including small and large group activities, team building on a ropes course, and more!
  • Outdoor Experience

    The Outdoor Pre-Orientation Experience is an adventure-based program that offers an array of wilderness exposure. Join your classmates as you begin your college experience in the great outdoors. The program offerings will be both challenging and rewarding, one you are sure to remember fondly! Participants will explore nature and the outdoors through a range of activities like hiking, high ropes, sports games, paddle boarding and canoeing. There will be plenty of opportunities for participants to get to know their peers, enjoy the outdoors, and have a great time!

    Participants will:

    • Have the opportunity to participate in different levels of wilderness exposure. Outdoor Activities are specifically designed to accommodate all levels of intensity.
    • Engage with upper class Pre-O Leaders about their Union College experience gaining first hand insights into making the most of your time at Union.
    • Make meaningful connections and friendships with other first year students that will last a lifetime!

    Check back this summer for the Itinerary for Outdoor Pre-Orientation Experience!


Pre-O program registration will open on June 3, 2024 at 10 at EST. Students must register in their applicant portal.

Pre-O programs run August 29-August 31. Students will arrive and move in to campus on August 29.

COST: $400 (automatically billed to your account)

The deadline to withdraw from programs without incurring a charge is Aug. 14. After Aug. 14, all charges are non-refundable.

*Please note: Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about the First-Gen Experience please visit the Office of Intercultural Affairs - First Generation Student Services Webpage.

Important Dates

August 14, 2024 - Cancellations accepted through August 14

August 29, 2024 - Move in for Pre-Orientation

August 29 - August 31 - Pre-Orientation Experiences

September 1 - September 3 - New Student Orientation

Parents and families are invited to join their students during the move-in process. We will have many student leaders onsite during move in to assist students with getting their belongings into their rooms.

Once our Pre-Orientation programs begin, we kindly ask that parents and families head back home that evening so our students can be fully present in our programing.