As part of Bear Beginnings, first-year students will participate in a three-day Immersive Experience with a group of your peers.  All first-year students are required to participate.

Through your WashU Pathways account, you will rank the programs in preference order choosing from:

Arts Under the Arch

Theme Hosts

What we see, feel, hear, and create shapes who we are.  You will explore your understanding and connection to the arts and the role of art, culture, and design in society.  As a creator or a connoisseur of music, dance, theatre, visual art, architecture, or other mediums of expression, this program will expose you to art and culture resources on campus and throughout St. Louis. During this program, you will explore the Grand Center Art District in St. Louis, learn how to design your own textile, and visit the City Museum.

Engage STL

Theme Host

Engage STL will help you find your place in the greater St. Louis area while building a community rooted in shared values.  You will be introduced to ideas of civic and community engagement, explore meaningful intersections between your lived experiences and your identities, and connect with St. Louis as a neighbor. During this program, you will explore St. Louis neighborhoods like The Ville and Dutchtown.

Experience Innovation

Theme Hosts

Learn how creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at WashU and in St. Louis connect to build your future.  Over the course of this immersion, we will provide more context of what it truly means to be an entrepreneur. You will experience hands-on activities, learn from innovators, visit the Cortex Innovation Community, meet successful entrepreneurs, pitch ideas, and help you begin to grow your network both on and off campus.

Human, Not Superhuman

Theme Hosts

Life is meant to be messy. During Human, Not Superhuman, you will learn to maximize your potential in healthy ways and explore resources for navigating the challenges of college life. Through activities such as meditation in the Missouri Botanical Gardens and exploring your voice through The Improv Shop, you will learn more about yourself, and how to develop deeper, more authentic relationships.

Outdoor Adventures

Theme Host

Office of Recreation

Boosting energy, enhancing creativity, and relieving stress are just a few of the proven benefits of both play and being outdoors.  This outdoors-centric immersion will foster fellowship and introduce you to some of the wonderful recreation opportunities available in the greater St. Louis region.  You will choose between activities such as hiking, zip-lining, water sports, and rock climbing.


Theme Hosts

Are you ready to explore what type of leader you are?  Discover WashU and St. Louis through working with your fellow students to activate your voice, define your passion, and learn what it takes to be a change agent in a community. During this experience, you will learn from influential St. Louis leaders, explore the St. Louis Zoo, and learn how to apply your leadership style.

Serve Your City

Theme Host

Have you ever wondered what you can do, big or small, to change the world?  Let Serve Your City be the catalyst to ignite your passion for serving the St. Louis community.  You will learn about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Global Goals and apply this new found knowledge by volunteering in St. Louis.  Volunteer sites may include a food bank, planting flowers at a community garden, or cleaning a local park.

You will be notified which program you have been placed in at the beginning of August.  You should preference whichever program interests you most; it does not need to align with your academic course of study.

Some students will automatically be placed in their Immersive Experience. Those students include:

  • Varsity athletes who play fall sports (cross country, football, golf, soccer, volleyball) will participate in the Fall Varsity Athlete Leadership Academy.
  • Students admitted to the Beyond Boundaries Program will participate in an Immersive Experience hosted by that program.
  • Students selected for the Danforth Scholars, Rodriguez Scholars, Ervin Scholars, Honorary Scholars in the College of Arts & Sciences, or Langsdorf Scholars in the McKelvey School of Engineering will participate in their scholar program retreat. Some of these retreats involve overnight stays off-campus. Each scholar program director can provide more information about these retreats.

Housing during Immersive Experiences

For Arts Under the Arch, Engage STL, Experience Innovation, Human, Not Superhuman, Outdoor Adventures, Rise, and Serve Your City you will spend your evenings on the WashU campus, sleeping in your residence hall.  Dietary restrictions and medical accommodations can be met by all programs.