Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

First-Year Experience

Networks and Academic Success

New students have nearly endless opportunities — new ways of teaching and learning to adjust to, relationships to build with peers and professors, and plenty of chances to seek and explore.

At Washington State University, a unique and rewarding first-year experience awaits all undergraduates as they transition to college and chart their course to academic success.

Students' first year at a university is critical to academic success throughout their baccalaureate program.  WSU has numerous undergraduate education programs, resources, and people to support the transition to the academic life of the institution.

HOW DO I MEET NEW PEOPLE?   One way to create a new network of people at college is through the Common Reading Program.  It is designed so that all first-year students are given the same book to read and discuss in a variety of classes across disciplines.  In addition to the book, there are special events, lectures, and presentations that are tied thematically to the subjects raised in the book; they introduce students in person to WSU's renowned research professors and programs.

WHAT ARE LEARNING COMMUNITIES?  At WSU, many new students have the opportunity to live in residence halls with the same students with whom they share classes.  They are part of WSU's nationally acclaimed living-learning community called "First-YearFocus."  Professors are active in First-Year Focus and often hold office hours or even classes where their students call "home."  Freshman Focus is a great way to start building networks with class friends and instructors.  Many Freshman Focus faculty commit to using the Common Reading book in their classes.

Another program, Pathways to Academic Success Seminar (PASS), also assists first-year students to make a successful transition and integration into the WSU community.  The academically focused research seminar integrates skill building and college success initiatives.  This learning community also includes interested faculty members and librarians.

A program for second-year students and transfer students, the Explore Seminar, uses an informal, interactive environment to help sophomores and other students explore various academic majors and careers by using special techniques. 

HOW CAN I GET MORE INVOLVED IN THINGS THAT INTEREST ME?  WSU is a top tier research university, and the topics that professors investigate in their disciplines offer chances for all students, in every major, to join the team.  The WSU office of Undergraduate Research prepares new students to enter the world of "research, scholarship, and creative activity" in a methodical and professional manner.  It also offers fellowships to support student research, and hosts an annual symposium for students to share their findings with others at WSU.  And, it is a resource to connect students with scholarships.

SHOULD I STUDY ABROAD?  Students are very aware of news about global citizenship, markets, and economies, and increasingly plan to go overseas during their undergraduate years.  There are hundreds of opportunities and many scholarships that help students, from freshman year forward, meet that goal.  WSU International Programs' Education Abroad office is designed to support study abroad programs for colleges. The new (2011) Global Leadership Certificate offers students the opportunity to engage in courses and activities dedicated to intercultural learning and leadership skills.

HOW CAN I SERVE THE NEEDS OF OTHERS?  WSU's Center for Civic Engagement provides opportunities for students to make an impact on their communities through a myriad of service opportunities.  It also hosts events, like "Under the Big Tent" gatherings, where people talk about issues that are important to them.


Common Knowledge by Exploring Topics in a Single Book

Nearly 4,000 first-year students annually participate in the WSU Common Reading Program.  The same book is used in dozens of first-year classes across many disciplines.  Drawing on topics from the book, faculty can link course lessons to WSU research advances and create dialogue among students as they share knowledge and ideas.A weekly lecture series, Common Reading Tuesdays, gives freshmen close-up opportunities to hear from faculty and guest experts.  Check the Common Reading website often for scheduled events.


Office of Undergraduate Education, PO Box 641046, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1046, 509-335-6679, Contact Us