May 2, 2011

What is Wheaton Passage?

You’ve been accepted to Wheaton and you have decided to attend. You are getting excited about coming to Wheaton in the Fall when you receive a brochure in the mail about something called Wheaton Passage. What is this adventure that is supposed to ignite the Wheaton College experience? One of our Admissions Counselors, Jonathan Heidengren, experienced Wheaton Passage five years ago before his freshmen year at Wheaton and also had the privilege to lead a group of incoming students in the Passage experience this past August. We’ve asked him to answer some of the questions that people frequently ask about Wheaton Passage.

What is Wheaton Passage?

Wheaton Passage is an exciting and fun program for incoming freshmen and transfers. It is designed to jump start the Wheaton College experience and to care for the incoming students as they make the transition to Wheaton College. It is an optional program that is run through HoneyRock Camp, Wheaton’s Northwoods Campus, with three different opportunities: Wilderness Track (a wilderness trip around Lake Superior for about twelve days), Camp Track (at HoneyRock for about three days) or Urban Track (an experience in Chicago for about a week). Each person will be in a small group of about 7-9 of their peers and a trained leader or two.

After each track finishes their own experiences, everyone comes together at HoneyRock. A large number of Wheaton Faculty then come up to HoneyRock and each professor pairs off with a small group. You then spend four or five days having a lot of fun using the activities and resources at camp to experientially learn about community building, spiritual formation, and service (you do a service project together one day). You also get an opportunity to jump start your social life at Wheaton as you have the opportunity to make friends with around 200-250 of your peers and around 35-40 faculty. After Wheaton Passage finishes, you come back to Wheaton’s campus where Orientation starts and then classes start about a week after that. Finally, before the midpoint of the first semester, the professor who paired with your small group will meet with you all twice to care for you and see how the transition into Wheaton has been going.

Why should an incoming student do Wheaton Passage?

I would encourage every incoming student to do Wheaton Passage because you get to meet a lot of your classmates and professors and have a really fun experience with them before school starts. You get to build relationships with quality people and get to know some professors on a personal level before you even show up to Wheaton. Talking with a lot of my friends who just graduated, they said that Passage was one of the experiences that really impacted them in their time at Wheaton and many of them spent more time at HoneyRock because of Wheaton Passage. Also, you receive your first two college credits and have a fantastic experience doing so.

What was your favorite memory from Wheaton Passage?

My favorite memory from Wheaton Passage as a student would have to be meeting so many people who are still some of my closest friends. I remember laying out on the dock at night with some other students and singing songs of praise to God as we gazed at all of the beautiful stars in the sky and marveled at the beauty of God’s creation. It was a great memory I won’t ever forget!

My favorite memory from Wheaton Passage as a leader was building relationships with the eight guys who were in my group. We had so much fun together and it was really cool to see them work together as a team and begin to experience the Wheaton Community. One of my favorite times with them was going out on the pontoon boat and enjoying the beautiful sunset while eating Oreos with milk. Love it!

What advice do you have for those students who are going to do Wheaton Passage?

My advice for students who are going to do Passage is to jump right in and participate. Know that everyone is new at this and probably just as nervous as you are. Many interactions might be awkward at first and that is ok. Just jump in and try new things. Meet new people and have fun just being yourself! It really is a great program to start your transition to Wheaton College, so look to have fun and begin building friendships that will last you a lifetime!

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