Resident Undergraduate Orientation


Building Community and Connection

Each fall and spring, all new resident undergraduate Prescott College students enroll in our unique Orientation program to begin the distinctive 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 while on Orientation. Orientation, the first class resident undergraduate students take, gives students the opportunity to build foundational communities that help to sustain them throughout their academic journey at Prescott College.

Orientation 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. 

Orientation Schedule

Important! Click Here for Your Orientation Schedule.

  • OCU move-in is Friday, January 7th.
  • All students are required to be on campus for Spring Term academic and co-curricular programming starting Sunday, January 9th
  • Click here for our vaccination policy.

Orientation Course Choices

New students to Prescott College choose to participate in Wilderness or Community-Based Orientation.

Wilderness Orientation

Wilderness Orientation is at its heart a three-week backpacking expedition in the remote desert mountains and canyons of Arizona. 

You don’t need to be an experienced backpacker or extrovert to have a successful Orientation experience; you just need a sense of adventure and a readiness to build an inclusive learning community.

Students on Wilderness Orientation develop a sense of place and make connections to the Southwest through backcountry travel, map and wilderness navigation, and by studying the natural and cultural history of their route.  Much of the course is focused on building a foundational community by honing interpersonal communication skills and practicing compassion and respect for each other and the landscapes we travel through. Students will also engage in individual research projects, a solo experience, leadership training, and service projects as part of this truly interdisciplinary Liberal Arts course. 

Enrollment is dependent on Orientation Director approval. Additionally, Wilderness Orientation satisfies the foundational field prerequisite that students will need for field-based courses.  

Wilderness Orientation: Community, Canoeing, & the Backcountry

This course is a version of our traditional Wilderness Orientation but is specifically designed for those who are new to spending time in the outdoors and/or might be intimidated by the length and/or physicality of the traditional WO course. In this course, we will approach all of the curriculum and experiences with a beginner's mindset.

Students will engage in 3 shorter expeditions:

  1. Canoeing experience designed to be a physically accessible introduction to the backcountry.
  2. Community Expedition - Students will then come back to Prescott and spend time in the community working on academic projects.
  3. Backcountry Expedition - Students will choose between a backpacking or basecamp expedition - both designed to be accessible to novices.

Students on this version of Wilderness Orientation will still engage in the WO curriculum to build a sense of place, study the natural and cultural history of the landscapes they interact with, and create a foundational community by honing interpersonal communication skills and practicing compassion and respect for each other and the landscapes we travel through. This is a field-based course and students earn 4 lower-division credits.

This course has limited enrollment. This course satisfies the foundational field prerequisite that students will need for field-based courses.

Community-Based Orientation

Students can also choose to enroll in Community-Based Orientation in a non-expeditionary in-town format.  

On Community-Based Orientation, students will explore the concept of Community via interdisciplinary lenses. Through connecting with the greater Prescott Community, students will develop cultural awareness and critical thinking tools to decolonize their education. Students will complete individual research projects, service learning opportunities, day hikes, field trips, and a possible solo experience, to develop a sense of place and explore the ecological, political, and cultural histories of their new home. 

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. 


Wilderness Orientation Gear Videos

Gear Basics
Hiking Gear
Sleeping Gear
Winter Gear