Not Sure How to Start College? Earn Credit Outside!

Hey, we get it. You’re new to Penn State and wondering where to begin. Luckily, Penn State’s AURORA program offers you the chance to ease your transition through one of our unique backpacking expeditions. Each expedition gives you the opportunity to meet other incoming students, get outside, earn 3 GHW credits, and learn about life at Penn State from upperclassmen — all while having fun on an unforgettable adventure! Our fall expeditions run before the semester begins, so you’ll have a huge head start before classes begin! Even better, there’s no outdoor experience required. For more than two decades, thousands of students have taken their first step toward collegiate success with AURORA… will you?

Information and Registration

Have questions? Find answers in our FAQ

Registration will open in February.

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Learn about AURORA’s Expeditions:

  • Orion Backpackers ORION Expedition - Our longest-running program, ORION is based at Penn State’s University Park campus and offers trips for all first-year students — regardless of campus. Explore the wilderness surrounding University Park in central Pennsylvania! Learn More
  • URSA Participants URSA Urban Service - Offered only to first-year students starting at University Park, URSA is an urban backpacking and community service expedition. Aid communities and explore the rich culture of Philadelphia as you hike through the city! Learn More
  • POLARIS Backpacker POLARIS Expedition - Offered only to first-year students starting at University Park, POLARIS is a rugged backpacking expedition in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Explore the peaks of the Crawford Notch area and find rewarding beauty! Learn More
  • VEGA Participants VEGA Expedition - Offered only to first-year students starting at University Park who are 18 or older, VEGA is a backpacking and kayaking expedition in Olympic National Park, Washington. Ascend the lofty mountains or explore the coast! Learn More
  • RIGEL Expedition RIGEL Expedition - Offered only to students transferring into University Park, RIGEL is a backpacking expedition modeled after our award-winning ORION trip. Explore the wilderness surrounding your new home at Penn State in central Pennsylvania! Learn More

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