More than 200 Purdue students will attend inaugural spring orientation program ‘Boiler Cold Rush’

Last updated: January 12, 2021

More than 200 students at Purdue this January will be the first to take part in a new spring orientation program designed just for them.

Called Boiler Cold Rush, the in-person orientation program begins the evening of Jan. 13 and includes multiple days of programming (Thursday, Jan. 14, through Saturday, Jan. 16).

Modeled after Purdue’s weeklong summer orientation program with a similar name, Boiler Cold Rush will be tailored to first-year undergraduates who participated in the fall semester virtually, as well as new beginner and transfer students new to Purdue this spring. The program will include a virtual track for about 33 individuals who are unable to attend in person.

“The idea for Boiler Cold Rush started a couple of years ago,” said Craig Johnson, director of Orientation Programs. “We recognize that students who begin in the spring semester have a more challenging time becoming part of a community compared to their peers who start in the summer or fall. We thought 2021 would be a good year for its launch as a way to welcome our first-year students coming to campus for the first time this spring, in addition to our new beginners and transfer students.”

Two students stop to make a snowman during a winter storm (Note: Image was captured before Purdue's COVID-19 changes in March 2020)

During the program, students will learn about campus traditions, Purdue culture and University resources. Students will also connect with their new-to-campus peers and continuing students.

According to Dan Carpenter, executive director of Student Success Programs (the unit that encompasses Orientation Programs), January is a tough time for orientation programs across the country due to foreboding outdoor temperatures. The culture of a spring cohort is different from fall, too, he adds.

“Purdue is traditionally designed for people to begin in August,” Carpenter says. “There are exceptions, and Summer Start is a good example. But many of the University’s business processes are designed around a big August start, so to welcome students out of season is to do so by exception – it’s doing something different that is not part of a familiar cycle, and it’s a complex effort of the Orientation Programs team working with countless people across campus to make it happen.”

Despite the challenges posed by a spring welcome, Carpenter said the need to figure out a new model for welcoming and orienting spring beginners became greater and more complicated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The demand was more pronounced because we now had to figure out a way to welcome students who started at Purdue in the fall but were not physically present on campus,” Carpenter says. “This week, they’re now going to be physically present, and we have a responsibility to help them transition to campus as smoothly as possible and complete their orientation.”

Student walks through Purdue's campus after a heavy snowfall

Of course, the numbers are smaller. With 174 students planning to participate in the on-campus Boiler Cold Rush program, early move-in will have a minimal impact on campus compared to the thousands of students who typically matriculate to Purdue in August. But just because the numbers are smaller doesn’t mean these students don’t need and deserve a hearty welcome, Carpenter says.

“Boiler Cold Rush is yet another attempt to make the welcoming of students in the spring more than an afterthought,” he says. “We wanted to take a deliberate and comprehensive approach to understanding students’ needs and providing value.”

Writer: Andrea Mattingly, Student Success Programs,

Sources: Craig Johnson, Director of Orientation Programs,
Dan Carpenter, Director of Student Success Programs,

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