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Looking for orientation for international graduate and professional students? See the Orientation for Graduate and Professional Students page.

What is Prepare?

Prepare is the Office of Global Learning's preorientation program for degree-seeking international first-year and transfer undergraduates. It gives you an early start on your Cornell experience by introducing you to important resources for international students and helping you make friends from around the world—all before Cornell's new student orientation. We're happy to talk with you about any questions or concerns before or during Prepare.

Watch Video of the Fall 2023 Event

Watch the August 2023 Prepare Campus Resources Presentation on video

Jump to Prepare 2023 Logistics

Questions? Email us.

Prepare 2018 volunteers answer participant questions
Prepare 2021 games

Why attend Prepare?

Past participants have called Prepare a foundational part of their experience as new Cornell students. It helped them to transition to life in the U.S. and at Cornell, and it gave them a base of friendship that continued through their Cornell career. This year, we expect to welcome over 300 students!

Time to Adjust

University orientation for the entire first-year class begins before classes start. Prepare gives you a chance to learn more about life as a college student in the U.S. before plunging into other orientation activities and academic tasks. You’ll learn about the U.S. academic system, Cornell's student life and traditions, and campus opportunities for the international community. Prepare gives you a chance to ask questions and discuss issues with staff from across the university, including academic departments, health services, and campus police. 

Meet Upper-Level International Students

Upper-level international students will join Prepare sessions to answer all of your questions and give you the inside track on campus life. They will serve as your mentors and guides to life as an international student at Cornell.

Memorable Program Offerings

Here are some Prepare events to look forward to:

  • Cornell Essentials: Immigration, health and wellness, career services, and more
  • Cornell campus tour / scavenger hunt
  • Casino night (no real money, but very real prizes)
  • Small group and mentor sessions with upper-level international students
  • Story Circles intercultural workshop (as used by UNESCO)
  • Meals and social activities with other new international students
Prepare 2021 students by the lake at Taughannock Falls
Students at Prepare Scavenger Hunt

Prepare 2023 Logistics


If you're living on campus in fall 2023, you should plan to check in for Prepare and move in to your assigned room for the year between 1:00-5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 13. If you arrive before 1:00 p.m. ET on August 13, you will not be allowed to move into your residence hall. You'll need to identify off-campus accommodations until Prepare check-in and move-in (1:00–5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 13).

Students living off campus in fall 2023 will be expected to check in to Prepare between 1:00–5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 13. 


Cornell meal plans will begin at lunch on Monday, August 14. Students not enrolled for a Cornell meal plan may purchase their meals individually at the entrance of the dining hall or may choose to eat off campus.


You are expected to arrange your own transportation to Cornell’s Ithaca campus in time for move-in and check-in: 1:00–5:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, August 13. You will not be able to move into your dorm until check-in begins. All Prepare programming is within walking distance of student dorms.

Check out the International Student Union's survival guide with tips on how to get from New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport to Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

Accessibility Accommodations

Cornell is committed to providing universal access to all events. Please let us know on the registration form of any accommodations you require in order to participate fully in Prepare.


If family is accompanying you to Ithaca, please be sure that they make their own lodging arrangements at a hotel, as the Prepare program is unable to accommodate non-participants. Hotels fill up quickly in August, so it is best to book your lodging as soon as possible.

Prepare Schedule

Students in gorge trail on Cornell campus
Prepare students playing cards together

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Prepare and Cornell first-year orientation?

Prepare is a pre-orientation program for incoming international undergraduate students. Prepare gives you a chance to meet other international students and get your bearings before you begin campus orientation activities and academic tasks.

Can I attend Prepare if I’m a graduate student?

Prepare is for undergraduates only. If you are an international graduate or professional student, you can attend International Graduate and Professional Student Orientation. In addition, be sure to check with the Graduate School and your field of study to see what other programs you can attend.

Can I attend Prepare if I'm an international exchange student?

Prepare is for undergraduates degree seeking students only. If you are an international exchange student you can attend the International Exchange Student Orientation. This will be organized by your Cornell exchange coordinator.

Can I attend Prepare if I’m an international transfer student?

Yes! Prepare is open to all new international first-year and transfer students.

Can I attend Prepare if I’m an American who has been living abroad?

American students who have been living abroad and would like extra time to adjust to life in the United States are welcome to attend Prepare.

Where will I stay during Prepare?

You will receive housing assignments from Cornell Housing before the start of the program and will be able to check-in to Prepare and move-in to your room any time between 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm ET on Sunday, August 13.

More questions? Email us.