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Orientation is equal parts landing pad and launch pad. It offers time to get to know the people and places that will be your home and opportunities to dive into the intellectual and imaginative work that will propel your experience forward. Together with your classmates and housemates, your advisor and faculty, you will begin to shape a vibrant and supportive intellectual community. 

Pre-Orientation Trips

  • “Outstanding. Beyond amazing. A definite must to meet people and form inseparable friendships to start the new experience!”
  • “You’ll have a serious sense of accomplishment.”
  • “You’ll feel extremely exhausted but proud.”
  • “Wonderful way to start the school year. I know that I am beginning the school year with some awesome people. Thanks for a good start and leaving me with high hopes for the year and beyond.”

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or just want to get to know your new home and classmates a little better, our pre-orientation trips offer you the chance to share a meaningful experience with a small group of your peers. Students travel in groups of 8 to 12—either backpacking or canoeing. No experience is necessary to participate, and trips are open to both first-year and transfer students. International students participate in a special international student pre-orientation program.

To reserve a spot on a trip, complete the Pre-Orientation Trip Registration by June 1; participants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. A fee of $250 covers meals, supplies, equipment, and campsites; you may also rent a sleeping bag and/or wilderness backpack for $20. Fees will be charged to your student bill. Please note: Pre-orientation trips are not available for international students.

Trip Options

  • Backpacking: Backpackers will journey on one of Vermont’s many stunning wilderness hiking trails, such as the Long, Catamount, or Appalachian Trails. All levels of experience are welcome. Students will hike approximately 3–5 miles each day and will be expected to carry their own belongings in a large wilderness pack throughout the trip. An advanced trip is also available for experienced backpackers (see next bullet).
  • Advanced Backpacking: Intended for experienced hikers, the advanced backpacking group will trek 7–8 miles a day through portions of the Long Trail. Participants should have wilderness experience and must be physically able to complete the journey.
  • Canoeing: Paddlers will travel down one of New England’s many waterways, the Connecticut River. You will paddle several miles a day, and camp at wilderness locations along the river while learning skills necessary for canoeing and backcountry living.

Arrival Information

  • Arrival for Pre-Orientation Trips | Monday, August 24, 9:00 am–noon
  • Arrival for International Students | Tuesday, August 25, 9:00 am–4:00 pm
  • Check-in for New Students (first-years and transfers) | Friday, August 28, 9:00 am–1:00 pm
  • Parent Program | Friday, August 28, 2:00 pm
  • New Student Orientation (first-years and transfers) | begins Friday, August 28, 2:00 pm

Getting to Campus

If you will arrive by plane, train, or bus into Albany, New York, and wish to reserve transportation to the Bennington campus, please submit the Transportation Reservation by August 1 or at your earliest convenience. The shuttle runs on the following dates (times and pickup locations to come):

  • Monday, August 24 | pre-orientation trip participants
  • Tuesday, August 25 | international students
  • Friday, August 28 | all other new students

Shuttle Fee: The following fees include up to two bags; $10 for each additional bag. Before August 1, $35 per person; after August 1, $45 per person. Your shuttle-fee payment is due with your reservation—checks can be mailed to the Office of Student Life, attn: Shuttle Reservations.

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