New 9-day schedule in place for Bear Beginnings 2019

| Senior News Editor

Washington University’s Bear Beginnings freshmen orientation program will transition to a 9-day schedule with three parts in the summer of 2019.

The First Year Center and Campus Life are currently working together to solidify the plans for the 2019 Bear Beginnings schedule. According to Executive Director of Campus Life Leslie Heusted, the University hopes to make the experience consistent for all freshmen students while also giving them the opportunity to delve deeper into their own initial interests on campus with the small group experience.

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The new Bear Beginnings schedule for 2019 is tentatively set up in three parts. The first part includes student move-in, convocation, welcome activities and parent/family orientation. The second part of the program first divides students based on their colleges for placement exams and then brings them back together later in the evening for common experiences and programming. The last part of the program is the small group immersive experiences which will give first-year students a chance to split off into smaller groups based on their social and academic interests.

“Bear Beginnings is always one of my very favorite times of the year, and I think it’s because of the high energy and the excitement around arriving on campus. It’s almost magical; so, I always really enjoy it,” Heusted said. “I think that what 2019 allows us to do is to allow that experience to be consistent for everyone in a way that really embraces individual needs and also ensures that students are all getting an equitable experience in arriving on campus.”

According to Assistant Director of the First Year Center Katharine Pei, the new schedule will benefit students in multiple ways.

“Our biggest goal is that we create an equitable and consistent experience for all incoming students,” Pei said. “We want new students to connect with one another and begin to identify peer groups. We want them to navigate opportunities on the Danforth campus and St. Louis community. We want them to interact with faculty, staff and upperclassmen, and we want them to develop pride for Wash. U.”

According to Heusted, pre-orientation programs will no longer exist in this new Bear Beginnings program; however, the components of those programs will still exist.

“The concept of small group experiences is not transplanting the pre-o program into the nine-day schedule. It’s really creating new experiences around certain themes,” Heusted said. “We are really hoping to create a new program taking the best things from the pre-os that have formerly existed and making sure that we are stressing those outcomes and the small group experiences.”

Additionally, the new orientation model will include more free time for freshmen to take their own time in transitioning into the campus life.

“Consistent feedback that we’ve heard from students is that it’s really, really jam-packed, and we want to be able to allow them to experience it at their own speed in whatever way they need to,” Heusted said.

With this new program, the First Year Center will be focusing on the curriculum and the content, while Campus Life will take a closer look at the group experiences and social programming.

“Switching our model is a huge change, but it’s going to give everyone the opportunity to have a small-group immersion experience, and that’s something we’re really excited to offer,” Pei said.

Additional Reporting by Emma Baker

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