Pre-Orientation Experience

Union offers innovative, optional Pre-Orientation programs to give incoming students a jump-start on their college experience. All programs will take place from August 31 - September 2, 2022. 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. Choose from one of five experiences that offer discovery of local arts & culture, community engagement, leadership development, exposure to the outdoors, or exploring your personal wellness.

Full or partial funding may be available to cover Pre-O fees through Union's Making U Possible (MUP) initiative for students whose financial situation may limit their participation. You may request MUP funding using this form or contact with questions.

In addition to our traditional 3-day Pre-O programs, this year there is an opportunity for 10-15 students to join faculty from the Geosciences Department on a 10-day Western Interior Field Trip Experience. More details below.

Our Five Pre-O Experiences

  • Arts & Culture Experience

    The Arts & Culture Pre-Orientation Experience provides workshops for students who have a passion for the Arts which range from a spectrum of crafts, theater, and storytelling through cultural movement and expression. This Pre-Orientation program is designed to foster a sense of belonging by building connects among new student and student leaders with similar interests and working with professional artists and performers within our Capital Region Community and neighboring cities!

    Participants will:

    • Tour our Makerspace and art collections on campus.
    • Experience a range of small group workshops and activities including Poetry, Ceramics, Painting, Cultural Dance, Storytelling etc.
    • Tour Proctors Theater and see a Mop-Co Improv performance.
    • Adventure off campus to visit the Albany Institute of History and Art and Schuyler Mansion.
    • Transition more easily into college life. By the time first-year orientation begins, new students will have made connects with their peers and started to find their way around campus.


    Email us!

  • Community Experience

    The Community Pre-Orientation is designed to further develop a student’s passion for community engagement and volunteerism. Students are introduced to downtown Schenectady with its many community service opportunities, dining experiences and cultural attractions. Working in small groups led by upper-class campus leaders—all alumni of the program—the Community Experience allows participants to create life-long friendships with both their classmates and older students, while bonding over service projects. This select experience is kept small by design—50 students will be accepted and grouped with 10 leaders to explore the city, enjoy local restaurants and participate in fun group activities.

    Participants will:

    • Get involved in the local community through volunteering. Over 20 non-profits are served during the program and the connections made last well into the school year.
    • 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. 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.


    Contact Janet Sweeney at the Kenney Community Center:

    (518) 388-6609

  • Leadership Experience

    Why the Leadership Experience Pre-Orientation program?

    This pre-orientation program is packed with fun activities and events that are designed to help new students get connected and involved on campus, learn important leadership skills, and get to know their peers.

    Were you very involved in high school? Looking to get more involved than you were in high school? 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! Hit the ground running with the Leadership Experience Pre-Orientation program!

    Personal and Team Leadership

    Throughout the three days, we will explore what it means for you to be a leader. Leadership can come in many different forms and is not tied specifically to a position or title. You will participate in activities such as Leadership Mapping and small group activities to further understand what it means for you to be a leader on campus and in life.

    You will also 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!

    Leadership Through Service

    Students will have the opportunity to participate in a service-learning project, giving back to the Schenectady community and will have a discussion on how service is important and why it matters in the world of leadership within the Union community, the Capital Region, and beyond.

    Leadership, Diversity, & Inclusion

    Students will spend time learning about multiculturalism and inclusion, how that fits into successful leadership, and how you can integrate it into your own personal leadership on campus and beyond.


    Contact Student Activities at (518) 388-6118

  • Outdoor Experience

    The Outdoor Pre-Orientation Experience is an adventure-based program that offers an array of wilderness exposure. Join 80 of your classmates as you begin your college experience at Camp Chingachgook YMCA Camp. 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 opportunity 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.

    Click here for the Outdoor suggested packing list.

    Check back soon for the Itinerary for Outdoor Pre-Orientation Experience!


    Email us!

  • Wellness Experience

    The Wellness Pre-Orientation experience is designed to develop and enhance the holistic wellness of each of our participants. By engaging in both group and individualized activities on campus and in the surrounding community, participants will experience personal growth and develop insight among physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual domains. They will have the opportunity to develop strategies and skills to enhance individual wellness while learning how they can contribute to the overall well-being of the Union College community at large. Activities will include yoga, practicing self-care, engaging in an on-campus cooking class, exploring the outdoors, learning mindfulness and meditation practices, creative art endeavors and community service. While some events will include light physical activity, this program is specifically designed to be inclusive of all needs and abilities among our participants.

    Participants will:

    • Develop meaningful connections with peers and student leaders in the program.
    • Practice strategies to relieve stress and anxiety while gaining self awareness to facilitate a confident and successful transition to college.
    • Participants will be personally introduced to and interact with campus resources and providers who will be available to further support their wellness needs throughout their time at Union. Contributing offices and departments include but are not limited to Wicker Wellness, Eppler-Wolff Counseling Center, Union College Athletics, Health Services and Union Hospitality.


    Email us!


Pre-O program registration is now open.

Register Now

Pre-O programs run August 31- September 2. Students will arrive August 31.

COST: $400 (automatically billed to your account)

The deadline to withdraw from programs without incurring a charge is Aug. 17. After Aug. 17, all charges are non-refundable.

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

Financial Assistance - Union's Making U Possible

Again, full or partial funding may be available to cover Pre-O fees through Union's Making U Possible (MUP) initiative for students whose financial situation may limit their participation. You may request MUP funding using this form or contact with questions.

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

For more information about Accommodative Services Orientation opportunities please visit the Accommodative Services Office Webpage.

Western Interior Field Trip Experience

  • Western Interior Field Trip Experience

    The Western Interior Field Trip Pre-Orientation Experience is a 10-day outdoor educational tour through the spectacular desert and mountain landscapes of Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. We will travel from Salt Lake City to several National Parks, Monuments, and Forests to see canyons, eroded arches, rocks spanning billions of years in age, and other fabulous things. Trip emphasis will be on geologic features, and the processes that made them. Activities will involve day hikes, and accommodations will mostly be campgrounds ranging from commercial to primitive, with meals being packed groceries and occasional restaurants. Though the weather will be hot and dry, and the terrain rough, if you like the outdoors this experience promises to be rewarding, and will give you a chance to get to know some of your future classmates.

    Participants will:

    • Engage with trip leaders that will include two Union College professors from the Geosciences Department, who have had lots of experience in the western U.S.
    • Learn about the landscapes we visit, and some of the geologic processes that made them.
    • Participate in numerous hikes of different lengths, with the ability to decide to participate or not as the situation indicates.
    • Air transport to Salt Lake City and from Salt Lake City to the Albany airport (near Union College), lodging, and most meals will be supported by the Union College Geosciences Department.

    For more information, please visit the trip web page.

    Preliminary applications for this trip may be made between now and June 6. See the web page for details.


    Email: Professor Kurt Hollocher

Important Dates

August 17, 2022 - Cancellations accepted through August 17

August 31, 2022 - Move in for Pre-Orientation

August 31 - September 2, 2022 - Pre-Orientation Experiences