AURORA Penn State Outdoor Orientation Programs

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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 outdoor 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 students already there — 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 AURORA FAQ

Learn about AURORA’s Expeditions:

ORION ExpeditionOrion Backpackers
ORION Expedition - August 12–16 or August 19–23
Our longest-running program, ORION is based at Penn State’s University Park campus and offers backpacking trips for all first-year students — regardless of campus. Explore the wilderness surrounding University Park in central Pennsylvania!
URSA Service ExperienceURSA Participants
URSA Service Experience - August 12–16 or August 19–23
Offered only to first-year students starting at University Park, URSA is a community service-based experience. Learn about and engage with your future community in the State College area through meaningful service projects.
RIGEL ExpeditionRIGEL Expedition
RIGEL Expedition - August 19–23
Offered only to students transferring or transitioning 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!
SIRIUS Expedition
SIRIUS Expedition - August 12–16
AURORA’s virtual expedition, SIRIUS, was built to cater to all students of all abilities from all campuses. Earn three credits on a five-day virtual adventure as you explore the United States remotely while easing your transition into Penn State.

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