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Elisabeth McLaughlin / Columbia Daily Spectator

Welcome, Columbia class of 2023! You’re probably feeling a mixture of intense excitement and nervousness right now as you prepare to graduate high school and look forward to the upcoming school year. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there, and you’re going to be more than fine. One of the choices that you’ll soon have to make is whether you want to participate in one of Columbia’s three pre-orientation programs.

If you are debating whether you should participate in one of the programs—Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program, Columbia Urban Experience, and International Student Orientation Program—you are at the right place.

Here are four reasons why COÖP could be a good fit for you:

You love the outdoors!

If you like spending time outdoors, participating in COÖP is kind of a no-brainer. You get to choose between ROP, BOP, and HOP (river-canoeing, biking, and hiking, respectively), and spend four days enjoying the summer outdoors with your new classmates! Even if you are not that experienced in outdoor activities, the programs are suited for anyone with a love for the outdoors.

You are intimidated by the New Student Orientation Program and the process of making friends.

Although COÖP seems like an outdoor-oriented program, the emphasis is on meeting people, building community, and quelling anxieties about the upcoming semester. If you don’t consider yourself an expert biker or camping connoisseur, COÖP is still completely viable (Tip: The river-canoeing trip is the least physically strenuous of the three.). You don’t need to be a mountaineer or regular hiker to feel welcomed at COÖP; the leaders are trained to help you out. Think of it like a mini summer camp where you can start forging friendships! COÖP offers a more relaxed and intimate environment to socialize before you enter campus, which can be a little overwhelming.

You get to meet upperclassmen.

In addition to having a head start on meeting peers, COÖP gives you an opportunity to engage with upperclassmen. This is an invaluable asset, particularly because a lot of your classes when you get to campus will be mostly made up of other first-years (particularly Lit Hum and most introductory-level courses.) The four-day trip is coordinated and led by hand-selected Columbia students who have undergone a rigorous recruitment process. This means you will get all the advice you need on navigating your first year from seasoned student leaders. Feel free to interrogate them all about housing, class registration, what clubs you should check out, the best dining halls, professors, parties, and more!

You want to find a lasting community on campus.

COÖP is four days long, but most participants can attest to the fact that its impact lasts all four years. It’s extremely common for people to return the following years as student leaders and continue with COÖP. Since Columbia is a school in an urban environment with an often intimidating culture of achievement, COÖP is a way for students to find a relaxed community outside of their specific academic and extracurricular interests. If you want to meet chill, friendly folk before embarking on your Columbia journey, apply for COÖP!

Applications are due this Sunday, May 19. The program fee is $450, but there are full and partial fee waivers available to make COÖP accessible to all incoming students. Submit your application with care, because there are usually more applications than spots available. Check back for another article soon that can tell you how CUE or ISOP could be a good fit for you.

Enjoy these last few weeks of high school! We can’t wait to see you this fall!

Staff writer Izzy Mollicone can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

If you want to learn more about the Columbia/Barnard experience before you arrive in August, keep up with us through Required Reading! Required Reading is your crash course guide to Columbia that gives you a glimpse of what it’s like to be a student here and teaches you to live your best college life. Sign up here for tips, hacks, and answers to all your questions throughout the summer.

COOP Pre-orientation program Outdoors NSOP orientation
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