Macalester on the Orientation Express

The first year of college is an exciting time for students at Macalester students. They arrive on campus ready to challenge themselves academically and join a vibrant student community. Between classes, student organizations, and new friends, there is often so much happening on campus that many new students fail to leave the “Macalester Bubble.” They forget that Minneapolis and St. Paul are great places to explore. In the first week of school, Macalester helps students explore the Twin Cities by encouraging them to form relationships within the community.

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Into the Streets began in 1988 as a unique event designed to introduce new Macalester students to the Twin Cities. During first year orientation, the entire freshman class was divided into groups and brought to different areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This year, students went to the Frogtown neighborhood, the State Capital, the Green Line and many other Twin Cities locations. In addition to serving as a tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Into the Streets encourages new students to begin volunteering in their new city.

In recent years, Macalester has integrated public transit into these tours. Since most students will take the light rail or the bus to their off-campus activities, many for the first time in their lives, Into the Streets is a great way to make riding it fun and easy for new users.

This year, many groups took the light rail to their destinations, getting a $5 Go-To Card for future trips. Before reaching the station, students were briefed about the ins-and-outs of the light rail, allowing the group to expertly scan their cards and board the train at the Snelling Ave. Green Line Station.

dsc_0116As the train pulled away from the station, the students learned that free transfers are allowed on all Metro Transit vehicles within 2.5 hours of the first trip, and that the train doors open and shut automatically.

The students were also told the benefits of refilling their Go-To Card, especially if they do it on campus. Macalester students have two options for purchasing transit passes through the school. They can either buy a semester-long, unlimited ride College Pass for $87.50, which is half the retail cost, or they can load stored value onto Go-To cards with a 20 percent bonus from Macalester at any point during the term.

Armed with knowledge about the transportation in the Twin Cities, Macalester’s first years are ready to set out and explore Minneapolis and St. Paul! Who knows what adventures they will have!