First-Year Experience

First-Year Traditions

Student Transitions & Family Programs hosts several all-class traditions. These are designed to connect first-year students to their peers in their graduating class and to celebrate important milestones in their academic career, including their first day of college classes and completing their first academic year at WashU.

  • First Day: This event celebrates the first day of classes and provides students with school supplies and snacks to be successful on their first day, along with photos to commemorate the start of the academic year at WashU. First Day photos can be found on the Student Transitions & Family Programs Flickr page.
  • Symphony on the South 40: Members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra visit campus to perform in a small ensemble for students, faculty, staff, and community members on the South 40. The music department selects student musicians to showcase, as well.
  • First Year Finale: This event celebrates the end of the first-year at WashU for the first-year class through food and drinks, music, and time in community together. Awards are also announced via social media for student leaders, faculty, and staff that have contributed to a successful year for the first-year class.

WUSA Peer Mentor Program

The Washington University Student Associate (WUSAs – pronounced “woo-sas”) position is a year-long student leader role that focuses on welcoming and supporting first-year students with their academic, social, and personal transition to WashU.

WUSAs serve as orientation leaders for first-year students during Fall Welcome. They continue to serve as peer mentors for their cohort of first-year students until Spring Break of their students’ first year at WashU. Their primary duties are to remind students about academic deadlines, policies, and resources and to help build community among first-year students. WUSAs play a crucial role in making the first-year experience rewarding, fun, and successful.

Stop by your WUSA’s weekly WUSA Hours to connect with first-year students living in your building, receive reminders about academic deadlines, and get to know your WUSAs!

Bear Bulletin

The Bear Bulletin is a monthly e-newsletter sent to first-year students that provides information about important academic dates and deadlines, to-do items and reminders from Student Transitions & Family Programs, information about on-campus and off-campus events occurring each month, and a feature of a different campus department each month.

Be sure to read the Bear Bulletin each month to stay up-to-date on deadlines and opportunities each month. Check out the previous month’s editions for this academic year.

Classroom Connections

Students have the opportunity to meet with faculty who teach larger classes in a small group and get to know them outside the classroom in a casual setting. All students in classes participating in this program will receive an email invitation to sign up to meet with their professor and a small group of their classmates.

Students who have participated in the past tell us that they appreciated the opportunity to get to know their professor in a setting that is a little less intimidating than office hours and a lot more conducive to conversation than the classroom. Professors tell us that they enjoy the opportunity for a more relaxed setting for dialogue with students.

Check your WashU email during the academic year for opportunities to sign up.

On-Campus Programs

Student Transitions & Family Programs partners with departments around campus to highlight programs and events occurring on campus.

First-Year Passport Program

Student Transitions & Family Programs wants you to engage in activities around campus and in the greater St. Louis community. The First-Year Passport program encourages you to experience exciting events and programs from our campus partners. First-year students who complete at least two experiences in each of the following three categories are eligible to receive a FREE WashU sweatshirt!

  • First-Year In the Lou programs
  • First-Year Student Nights at Athletics
  • First Year Student Nights at the Arts

Find specific event dates and sign-up information under the respective categories below.

First Year In the Lou Programs

First-Year In the Lou programming is a continuation of the In the Lou excursions that first-year students have the option in which to participate during Bear Beginnings: Fall Welcome in August. These off-campus excursions are designed to engage first-year students in the St. Louis community and connect them to other students in their graduating class. All programming is free for first-year students. Washington University Student Associates (WUSAs) and Student Executive Board Members in the Student Transitions & Family Programs office lead these excursions. The First-Year In the Lou excursions for the 2023 – 2024 academic year include the following:

  • Friday, September 29, 2023: Cardinals v. Reds game at Busch Stadium
  • Saturday, December 3, 2023: Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Saturday, April 6, 2023: A trip to Union Station

Sign-up links for First-Year In the Lou excursions are shared in the monthly Bear Bulletin e-newsletter sent to first-year students’ WashU email address. Additional campus departments, including Campus Life, host additional In the Lou programming throughout the academic year.

First-Year Student Nights at Athletics

Join Student Transitions & Family Programs and WashU Athletics as we partner to highlight our spring semester varsity athletes!

First-year students who attend highlighted events will receive a FREE concessions voucher for each event they attend. First-Year Nights at Athletics events also contribute to our First-Year Passport Program, through which you can earn a FREE WashU sweatshirt!

Sign up for these upcoming events for spring 2024:

  • Men’s Basketball – Friday, February 16 @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Women’s Basketball – Saturday, February 24 @ 1 p.m.
  • Women’s Tennis – Saturday, March 2 @ 2 p.m.
  • Men & Women’s Field Events – Saturday, March 30 @ 9:30 a.m.
  • Men & Women’s Track Events – Saturday, March 30 @ 11 a.m.
  • Men’s Tennis – Monday, April 8 @ 4 p.m.
  • Baseball – Saturday, April 13 @ 3 p.m.
  • Softball – Saturday, April 27 @ 12 p.m.

First-Year Student Nights at the Arts

Experience the arts at WashU! Student Transitions and Family Programs partners with the Performing Arts Department, the Department of Music, The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, and the Program in Film and Media Studies to shine a spotlight on campus artistic events.

Experience the arts by attending events highlighted by Student Transitions & Family Programs and campus performing and visual arts departments. Attendance at First-Year Nights at the Arts events contribute to our First-Year Passport Program, through which you can earn a FREE WashU sweatshirt!

Sign up for these upcoming events for spring 2024. Visit the links below for additional details: