Fall 2011 Orientation: Critical Connections

Orientation events include a two-day retreat at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma, California.

July 19, 2011

During Orientation, first-year students joining Menlo College—both freshmen and transfer students—will have the opportunity to learn about the campus and its various academic and social programs, but even more importantly, get to know each other outside of class. Before classes start on August 22, there are two full days of campus-based activities, but also a special two-day offsite retreat at a secluded ranch north of San Francisco.

“It’s a time when students meet their friends, the people they’ll be connected to,” said Yasmin Lambie-Simpson, the Dean of Student Affairs at Menlo College. “It’s easy to stay in your room and get to know your roommate, but it’s harder to get to know other people, so we’re providing a whole range of activities that are designed to help them engage with each other. It's also an opportunity for our students who live off campus to interact with and get to know the residential students.”

Last year, parents had lunch at President James Kelly's house.

The activity-packed agenda—which starts on Monday, August 15, for residential students and Tuesday, August 16, for students living off-campus—begins with more traditional orientation activities. On Tuesday, the students will be inducted into the school at a special dinner on the Quad, graciously sponsored by Citi. Wednesday will include presentations of campus services, a library research tutorial, and career counseling services.

Then on Thursday, August 18, all the incoming freshmen and transfer students, along with student leaders, faculty, and staff, will take buses to Walker Creek Ranch, a 1,700-acre retreat and conference center outside Petaluma. This will be the third year that Orientation has included this offsite gathering. At the ranch, which is one of those rare places located outside of cell phone range, students are encouraged to relate in a different context.

Walker Creek Ranch provides a relaxed setting for students to connect.

“Everyone gets on a bus, and it puts them all on the same level: We’re all going on an adventure together in the woods,” said Lambie-Simpson. The retreat schedule includes some structured events, including a fun personality profiling exercise called “True Colors”; students will be organized into small groups to take on the challenges of a ropes course, row boats across the lake, go on hikes, and other outdoor activities. 

Students at Walker Creek Ranch during last year's retreat.

“They have a really good time, and people get to know each other in a really lovely setting,” said Lambie-Simpson.

A detailed orientation schedule is available here: