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The Green Mountain College First Year Experience

Welcome to Green Mountain College! Our First-Year Experience Program is designed to aid in the transition from high school to college life. The program consists of a combination of academic and co-curricular programs that connect the two areas of life at GMC.

Below are some of the various components that you can expect to encounter during your first year!

Wilderness Challenge

The College created the Green Mountain Adventure Programming (GreenMAP) office in 2001 with the idea of providing wilderness programs to the entire student body regardless of major. The office serves as a gateway to the natural environment and educates students about the outdoors. The Wilderness Challenge brings new students together prior to on-campus orientation and takes them into the outdoors for what have historically been adventure-based activities. Some of these activities include backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, and canoeing. Students usually find these trips to be a great way to make friends early on and many remain intact throughout and beyond college.


Student Leaders welcome incoming first year and transfer students to Green Mountain College. Here you will take care of the nuts and bolts of going to college – getting your college IDs, taking placement exams, etc. – but you'll also have the opportunity to attend wellness workshops and social events, meet additional faculty and staff, and get to know other students beyond your roommate and floormates. All throughout the weekend you are getting to know others, exploring the campus and surrounding area and learning what it means to be a student at Green Mountain College. At the end of Orientation weekend, the campus community joins together for an outdoor barbecue and concert on a summer afternoon in Vermont- you are now a member of the GMC community!

Images of Nature

This introductory course explores some of the ways in which human societies make sense of the natural world. Students read literature that ranges from folklore and poetry to environmental philosophy and natural science, and develop a sense of how culture determines our understanding of our environment. The course begins to develop writing through essays and journaling while frequent field trips help root students in their new home while they test ideas from classroom readings. This course is required of all students, so there will be a lot of discussion about it amongst your peers! The ELA portfolio is begun in this course and added to in each of the subsequent core courses in the ELA program. For more information about Images of Nature and the ELA program, click here.

Voices of Community

Building on the writing skills developed in Images of Nature, Voices of Community provides students with more extensive practice in composition and revision. The course cultivates the conventions of Standard Written English through a series of assignments that explores how the environment encompasses human relationships and communities. The critical thinking and communication skills learned in this course enable informed participation in these communities. The course culminates in a “Voices Celebration” which brings all sections of the course together to share the various ways the concept of Community has been explored, and written about, during the semester. For more information about Voices of the Community, click here.


Convocation is the traditional, ceremonial opening of the academic year. Faculty and staff are decked out in full academic regalia and welcome the new and returning students to campus. Each convocation has a welcome address by the Student Government President as well as a keynote speaker who is brought in to touch on the theme for the upcoming academic year. Convocation is followed by a celebration at the President’s Dinner in Withey Hall.


All students are assigned to a first-year advisor as soon as they register for classes in the summer. Your first-year advisor will be the instructor for your Images of Nature class. The role of the advisor is to help guide you through the transition to College. They can help get you connected to any resources you may need academically or they can be a sounding board for social issues. In October, prior registration for the spring semester, you will have an opportunity to either verify or change your major and to select an advisor within your major. Your major advisor will be someone that you will work with to determine which courses make sense for you to make progress within your major as well as towards your overall goals and aspirations. At the end of the first semester, you will fully transition from your first-year advisor over to your major advisor. Be sure to utilize these folks, as they have a great wealth of information and knowledge about how to navigate through college!
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