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Members of a 2018 QUEST group pause during a team- and boat-building activity at Sandy Hill Camp in North East, Maryland. QUEST stands for Question, Understand, Engage and Explore, Serve and Transform.
Members of a 2018 QUEST group pause during a team- and boat-building activity at Sandy Hill Camp in North East, Maryland. QUEST stands for Question, Understand, Engage and Explore, Serve and Transform.

Challenge by choice

Photos courtesy of Student Life

For extended new-student orientation, pack the mess kit and leave your comfort zone at home

Editor's note: Monday, July 1, is the deadline for new transfer students interested in the Summit:Seaside program. Applications for the first-year Summit and QUEST programs will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 15.

The University of Delaware’s one-day New Student Orientation (NSO) program, required for all incoming undergraduate students, provides invaluable information about how to succeed at UD and make the most of the student experience.

While students and their families will appreciate the introduction to community members and campus expectations, extended orientation programs provide an additional opportunity to make a personal plan for the days and years ahead. Offerings such as Summit and QUEST are a structured, thoughtful pause to reflect on one’s aspirations and chart a course for success. Both programs are designed within UD’s Division of Student Life by professional staff who specialize in college student development.

Junior Cooper Rothman acknowledged that prior to his Summit experience, he was not what his family would have described as “outdoorsy people.” Still, the program seemed like an opportunity for an out-of-state student to build some friendships beyond his NSO experience, and to boost his preparation for college life.

“Hiking 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail is certainly not easy while learning to cook your own food in the wilderness,” he said. “It made me more confident in how I would survive at school without my parents. My mindset was that if I can do all that, I’d be fine doing laundry and taking classes.”

Applicants to the Summit program can choose from a 50-mile adventure on the Appalachian Trail or shorter excursions within Delaware’s Trap Pond State Park. A special seaside edition of Summit is also available for UD’s incoming transfer students.
Applicants to the Summit program can choose from a 50-mile adventure on the Appalachian Trail or shorter excursions within Delaware’s Trap Pond State Park. A special seaside edition of Summit is also available for UD’s incoming transfer students.

Rothman returned to campus for his first semester with lasting friendships and a commitment to engage in his new community, which he has now done as a UD Career Center intern, 91.3FM WVUD volunteer, Outing Club member and NSO orientation leader. This summer, Rothman will return to the program that started it all as a 2019 Summit Leader, helping new students connect with their own fresh attitude toward life.

“The challenge of this new experience was part of why it was so life changing for me,” he said. As is the design of UD’s extended orientation programs, Rothman was pleased that the Summit experience helped not only him, but also his family feel more at ease with his transition to UD.

Sophomore Nishant Chintala initially applied for QUEST for the chance to move onto campus early, but like many other “QUESTers” found it to be one of the best opportunities of his college career.

“Not only did I get a week-long, memorable leadership experience, but I also met and connected with 70 other motivated and hardworking freshmen,” he said. Through continued participation in Blue Hen Leadership Program, Chintala has completed a service trip to Baltimore, attended a national leadership conference in Orlando, won first place in a team collegiate leadership competition, and this summer will serve as a Peer Mentor to the 2019 QUEST cohort.

Students enjoy a guided climb at Annapolis Rock during the 2018 Summit program
Students enjoy a guided climb at Annapolis Rock during the 2018 Summit program.

Lasting friendships are a common refrain among past QUEST participants, who also praise the introspective activities offered. “I gained self awareness,” said one in the post-program survey. “I learned what qualities are important to turning a group into a team, and most importantly, I learned what it means to be a leader: Question (everything), Understand (that it’s a lifelong journey), Engage and Explore (in my community), Serve (in any way I can), and Transform.”

The depth of interpersonal connection available through extended orientation proves particularly invaluable for off-campus students, as one noted in the same assessment. “Knowing a lot of different people, regardless of major, allowed me to feel more at home and [connected to] the University especially since I am a commuter. Having the BHLP office as a study place is like going “home” to study and to stay relaxed.”

QUEST

Facilitated through the University Student Centers’ Leadership Development office, QUEST is the gateway to UD’s nationally recognized, award-winning Blue Hen Leadership Program (BHLP). Participants are able to move into their residence halls five days early to engage in team-building, social activities, leadership development, outdoor adventure, service and fun. Beyond the summer kickoff, QUEST participants enjoy monthly meetups throughout students’ first year at UD.

Summit

Facilitated through Orientation and Transition Programs, Summit is a collection of multi-day programs that also offer a mixture of outdoor adventure, reflection and skillbuilding. Incoming first-year students can choose from a 50-mile adventure on the Appalachian Trail or shorter excursions within Delaware’s Trap Pond State Park. A special seaside edition of Summit is also available for UD’s incoming transfer students.

Applications open May 1

Applications for both programs are open as of May 1. Interested incoming students are encouraged to apply online by July 1 to maximize their chances of being selected. Details about all programs including dates, what participants can expect, components of an ideal application, and the link to apply can be found here.

About Student Life

The Division of Student Life includes the Office of the Dean of Students, Center for Black Culture, Center for Counseling and Student Development, Fraternity and Sorority Leadership and Learning, Office of Student Conduct, Orientation and Transition Programs, Residence Life and Housing, Student Diversity and Inclusion, Student Health Services, Student Services for Athletes, Student Wellness and Health Promotion, UD Career Center, and the University Student Centers. For more information about Student Life, visit the website.

Each year, motivated QUEST alumni hoping to guide new Blue Hens in their own leadership journeys apply for the chance to be a Peer Mentor to the next cohort.
Each year, motivated QUEST alumni hoping to guide new Blue Hens in their own leadership journeys apply for the chance to be a Peer Mentor to the next cohort.

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