First-Year Experience

First Year In the Lou Excursions
First Year In the Lou fall programming is a continuation of the In the Lou excursions that first-year students had the option to participate in 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) lead these excursions. The fall First Year In the Lou excursions include the following:

To sign up for these excursions, visit the pages linked above. Sign-up links are also posted in the monthly Bear Bulletin e-newsletter and in the bio of the Student Transitions & Family Programs Instagram account. First Year In the Lou excursions for the spring semester will be posted in November 2022.

On-Campus Programs

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

  • First-Year Student Nights with Cultural Shows: Each year, student groups host four cultural shows: Diwali, Black Anthology, Lunar New Year Festival, and Carnaval. Student Transitions & Family Programs partners with Residential Life and Campus Life to provide tickets to first-year students. Look for an email from your Residential College Director (RCD) with more information about free tickets for each cultural show.
  • First-Year Student Nights with Athletics: During the fall semester, one competition each for football, men’s soccer, swimming & diving, and women’s soccer are highlighted as the First-Year Student Night at Fall Sports. First-year students who sign up and attend any of these featured competitions receive a concessions voucher for the games they attend. First-year students who attend at least two of the five events get a free WashU sweatshirt. All regular season athletic competitions are free for WashU students to attend. To sign up to attend these games as part of the First-Year Student Nights with Athletics program, visit the page linked above. Sign-up links are also posted in the monthly Bear Bulletin e-newsletter and in the bio of the Student Transitions & Family Programs Instagram account. Featured games for winter and spring sports will be posted in November 2022 and February 2022, respectively.
  • First-Year Student Nights with the Arts: More information coming soon.

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.

Participating courses for the spring semester will be posted in January 2022. Check your email during the academic year for opportunities to sign up.

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.
  • 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 during Fall Welcome and then they serve as peer mentors for the student’s entire first year. 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 the First Year In the Lou excursions and events on campus 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 below:

August 2022

September 2022

October 2022