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EXPLO is more than a summer program — it’s a community of friends and mentors that last a lifetime.

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Student LifeLiving at Colby College

Practice being a college student before you get there. EXPLO brings together curious and motivated students from around the world who are eager to live and learn in an environment crackling with ideas, energy, and enthusiasm. From collaborators on projects to partners at evening events, they are the perfect mix of people for exploring every facet of life on a college campus. You’ll hang out with new friends in the residence halls and student lounges, pop into studios, labs, and classrooms all over campus, make time for a quick breakfast in the dining hall, get your laundry done, and meet up with classmates for coffee or a snack while discussing a proposal for your concentration’s culminating project — all without missing a beat.
Read on to learn more about schedules, routines, and interactions that organize our summer at EXPLO.

Residential Students

Living in the residence halls provides a snapshot of the community experience you’ll have in college. Like at many college campuses, students are housed by gender at EXPLO. We aim to create living groups that balance a mix of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, as well as new and returning students. The groups are led by Advisors who live in the hall and keep you informed of what’s going on around campus. Consider this your campus family — they’ll care for you as if you were their own.

Typically, there are two or three students to a room at EXPLO. But with COVID-19 protection at the forefront, we’ve decided to house each student in a single room this summer. We’re also dispersing and reducing the number of students and educators on campus by lowering enrollment, limiting coming and going from campus, and utilizing our ample outdoor spaces.

In general, EXPLO concentrations are casual and you should plan to wear comfortable clothing appropriate for summer. All concentrations will require students to bring dress clothes/suits for final presentations (trials, business pitches, presentations to professors/professionals, visits to labs, etc.).

In addition, all students must bring a laptop computer. The concentrations’ curriculum requires students to be able to access the internet and utilize basic word processing and presentation-type programs (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) If bringing a laptop presents an issue, please contact our Admission Office. Please note: EXPLO is not responsible for loss, theft, or damage of student devices, including laptops.

EXPLO operates an on-campus health center exclusively for our students. If you’re feeling under the weather, this is where you will find the help you need. We also have space for quarantining and isolating students and staff, if necessary. Should you need to see a physician, orthodontist, or optometrist, we’ll take you where you need to go and stay with you. If you need to get a prescription, we’ll make sure that happens, too. Learn more about Student Health + Safety at EXPLO.

Our staff’s main priority has always been one thing, and one thing only: you. Most faculty, staff, and administrators live on campus — you’ll see them in class and in the lab or studio, but also at the gym, in the community center, in the dining commons, and even in the residence halls. Their job is to help instruct and guide you through your summer experience. Our job is to (gently) nudge you beyond your comfort zone, making sure you get to experience all an EXPLO summer has to offer while feeling as safe and secure as possible in the process. And since we’re as excited to be at EXPLO as you’ll be, we’ll make sure every experience is as fun and fulfilling as can be.

There’s a reason why Maine is called Vacationland. Considered one of the best destinations for summer travel, Maine boasts the best of outdoor adventure, coastal leisure, history, food, and endless unique finds. We’ll have opportunities to embark on COVID-safe recreational outings throughout the session. Possible opportunities may include:

  • Sugarloaf Mountain Activities
  • Schooner Day Sail
  • Colby College Art Museum
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Tubing on the Kennebec River
  • Clambake
  • Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

International Students

Far from home, but never alone

EXPLO is a diverse community — we have students from more than 40 states and 70 countries! — and our international students make up a critical part of our learning community and living groups. We also recognize that many of our students are very far from home, and they may have questions unique to attending a summer program in the United States. Head over to our International Students page for more information about traveling to campus, language requirements, and more.

International Students


Set on 714 acres atop Mayflower Hill, the Colby campus overlooks downtown Waterville and the Kennebec River Valley. On campus, EXPLO will have its own dedicated classrooms, labs, residence halls, and access to extensive indoor and outdoor athletic facilities including an ice rink, private beach on Messalonskee Lake, and an art museum. Here are some campus highlights:
  • Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center: This brand-new 350,000-square-foot athletic center is the most advanced and comprehensive NCAA D-III facility in the country, and includes a Myrtha Olympic-sized pool, a 200-meter track, a regulation ice arena, and a 13,500-square-foot fitness area.
  • Colby College Museum of Art: A teaching museum founded in 1959, the Colby College Art Museum is a destination for American art. It is home to Pablo Picasso’s Vollard Suite, and this summer will welcome the exhibition Bob Thompson: This House is Mine featuring the work of the visionary Black painter.
  • Grossman Hall: This LEED Platinum-certified building reopened in 2017 and is part of the College’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint. Colby has been carbon neutral since 2013 and is regularly recognized for leadership in sustainability.
  • Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence: Set to open in Fall 2021, the Davis Institute will be the first cross-disciplinary AI institute at a liberal arts college, positioning Colby as a national center for training faculty and students in the use of AI and the creation of new systems and capabilities.

Faculty + StaffOur Head of Programs

Sarah Ruter is a singing, dancing, English teacher who detoured into practicing law before returning to her first love: education. Sarah started her education career at EXPLO in 1996, where she’s held numerous positions including teacher, residential advisor, admissions officer, residence director, and Dean of Students, and returned as Head of Programs in 2010. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin — Madison, where she was a Robert C. Byrd Scholar. For years, she taught high school writing, public speaking, and literature at a public school in Massachusetts. She also headed the school’s Theater Society, where she directed three plays per year for the 100-member drama organization. Sarah attended the University of Minnesota Law School, where she earned her J.D. cum laude. She practiced general, commercial, and employment law with regular appearances in state and federal court. Minnesota Law and Politics called her a “Rising Star” and Minnesota Lawyer named her to their list of “Up and Coming Attorneys.”

Faculty + StaffMeet Our Assistant Head of Programs

Andy Smith, Assistant Head of Programs, began his EXPLO career in 2007 and has worked as a senior administrator, including Director of Programming and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, on several of our campuses. For five years, Andy worked during the academic year in curriculum development. While in the role, you might have found Andy writing essential questions for a germ biology course, coaching a teacher on instructional techniques, or experimenting with crafting a new putting green and hole for a physics-through-mini-golf course in EXPLO’s woodshop. He was a varsity swimmer in college and has coached several swim teams. Prior to joining EXPLO year-round, Andy taught English in various New York state public schools. He has also taught abroad as a teacher in Ghana and a literacy headteacher in Kenya. Andy earned his B.A. in English and education at the State University of New York, Geneseo, and his M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking from the University of Massachusetts, with a focus on helping schools cultivate meaning and purpose in the lives of their students.


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