For the past 15 years, Colorado College has required all new students to explore the west through service trips, better known as Priddy trips, as part of New Student Orientation. These small, student-led excursions allow new students to get to know each other in a space away from the pressures of campus, where they’re more comfortable being themselves.
David Crye, Assistant Director of Outdoor Education, plays a crucial role in determining which student applicants will lead NSO. “The biggest thing we like to emphasize is that you don’t need previous leading experience,” Crye explained. “We just want students who are excited to have a positive impact on the incoming class.” When selecting leaders, the interview team looks for just that: the passion that applicants bring and the potential they have to lead a fulfilling trip.
The Outdoor Education Department recruits experienced student leaders to conduct interviews. These leaders have a strong sense of the department goals and kinds of leaders they seek. After interviewing applicants, the interviewers meet to deliberate. “Interviewees are given a grade based on how well we think they’d be able to lead and then we discuss their grade as a group,” said Crye. “We hardly ever have that many bad grades, which means we have to look at other aspects of an interviewee.”
For example, in combination with the strength of each interview, Crye also examines major disciplinary patterns. “We don’t care about a noise complaint or a couple of small violations,” he said. “We are looking for repeated offenses, probations, and suspensions.” Because the leader application is so popular and competitive, interviewers must look to minute details to separate the people who will be hired from the people who won’t.
As for returning leaders, the process is a bit more streamlined. “We just look at their returning leader application, the reviews that their trippees gave them last year, and any major disciplinary actions throughout the past year,” said Crye. Returning leaders usually get the job again, but in some special cases, they will not be rehired.
I talked to a few first-years who are applying to be NSO leaders and asked them why they’d like to lead. “It would be pretty awesome to be that person to facilitate freshman awkwardness and would also just be so much fun to get to go on a trip with a group of fun people,” said Victoria Cusanello ’21, who hopes to be an NSO leader in the fall. “I’d do it for free, but the fact that it pays is awesome.” Meanwhile, Stuart Callinan ’21 spoke of the opportunity to give back through leading: “I had such an awesome experience on my Priddy trip, and I felt like the leaders were a major part of that,” he said. “I want to provide that experience to the incoming first-years so that they feel as welcomed to CC as that I did.”
Though Callinan spoke highly of his Priddy experience, there are plenty of students who do not express the same sentiment. However, this should not be a deterrent to leading. “If you had a negative NSO experience, I encourage you to come lead,” Crye noted. “Give someone a great experience by learning from the unfortunate experience you had.”
If you think you’d make an effective NSO leader, apply on Summit! The application closes on March 15, so get it done before Spring Break—late applications will not be accepted. You could be the one to make a first-year’s transition to CC an unforgettable and rewarding experience!