Resident Undergraduate Orientation

Building Community and Connection

Each fall and spring, all new Prescott College students find themselves on Orientation as they begin the unique journey of developing relationships with their new home, community and academic career.  For over 50 years, new students at Prescott College have built transformative connections to the  college, their environment, and each other. Orientation gives students the opportunity to build foundational communities that help to sustain them throughout their academic journey at Prescott College.

Orientation is the first class you take as a resident undergraduate Prescott College student.  It is a 4 credit block course aimed to orient you to the unique culture and education offered at Prescott College. Regardless of area of study or credits completed, all incoming Prescott College students are introduced to the natural and cultural environments of the Southwest, learn about themselves and the greater community, and experience the educational philosophies of Prescott College during Orientation. The first few days of Orientation are spent on campus registering for classes, meeting staff, students and faculty, and preparing for the course. Students then split into small groups for their individual Orientation courses.

Check out this NYTimes Opinion piece by Frank Bruni on the freshman experience, mental health, and the positive outcomes of Orientation programs for new students.

Orientation Course Choices

Wilderness Orientation: Desert Mountain and Canyon Expedition

Students can choose to enroll in Wilderness Orientation: a three-week backpacking expedition in the remote desert mountains and canyons of Arizona. Students develop a sense of place and make connections to the Southwest through rigorous backcountry travel, map and wilderness navigation, and by studying the natural and cultural history of their route.  Students become functional and valuable members of the community through curriculum that focuses on interpersonal communication, group process, and most importantly, compassion and respect for others and themselves. Through individual research projects, a solo experience, leadership training, and service projects, students participate fully in this interdisciplinary Liberal Arts course.  Additionally, Wilderness Orientation satisfies the foundational field prerequisite that students will need for field-based courses.  With our history as a pioneer of outdoor orientation programming since 1968, you can rest assured that our backpacking routes are achievable and accessible, our staff of outdoor education instructors are experienced guides and adventure educators, and our extensive risk management and safety practices are well vetted.  Enrollment is dependent on Orientation Director approval. 

On-Campus Undergraduate Orientation Schedule

Community-Based Orientation

Students can also choose to enroll in Community-Based Orientation.  This Orientation course is intended to orient new students to the college’s unique educational philosophy, structure, and community in a non-wilderness or expeditionary format.  Instead, through the context of, individual research projects, service learning opportunities, day hikes, field trips, and a possible solo experience, students develop a sense of place and explore the ecological, political, and cultural histories of their new home. By building connections to the Southwest, one another, and Prescott College, students strive to become functioning members of an invaluable community while learning interpersonal communication and leadership skills, and most importantly, compassion and respect for others and one's self. To help accommodate those students with physical, familial, medical, or other needs, this course is based in Prescott with frequent field trips and possible extended field-based overnights. Please note however, that this course does not satisfy the requirements for a field prerequisite required for many field courses at Prescott College. Enrollment is dependent on Orientation Director approval. 

Regardless of the type of Orientation you are engaged in, successful completion of this intensive experience requires a high degree of commitment. You should plan on blocking out this time for exclusive focus on your education.

If you have any further questions please contact Cecil Goodman, the Orientation Director at 928-350-2305 or


Check out the links below to find out more about gear, see gear videos, fill out required paperwork, and get all your Orientation and enrollment questions answered.