First-year experience

You belong here! That’s why we designed activities and initiatives with you in mind.

As you move through our three experiential milestones: Explore, Engage and Transition, you will participate in events and activities that will connect you to a myriad of resources and opportunities that will assist in your acclimation and transition to college life at VCU. 

Explore: Summer and Month 1

First-year students will participate in New Student Orientation and Weeks of Welcome to explore our Ram culture through engaging activities and events. In this important milestone, students are also encouraged to meet with their academic advisor to discuss their College Student Inventory results and to create an individualized Major Maps plan for their selected academic program to jumpstart their first year of college! 

Engage: Months 2-4

In addition to their individualized Major Maps activities, first-year students will engage in common experiences with their peers through their first-year success courses, living-learning communities, focused inquiry courses, and much more! 

Transition: Months 5-9

The First-Year Rising Series engages first-year students in events and activities that will prepare them for a successful transition to the next academic year.

Key initiatives

VCU Orientation

Orientation offers an immersive experience for new, incoming students to learn about life at VCU, understand academic requirements, campus resources and to connect with VCU students, faculty and staff.

Weeks of Welcome

Weeks of Welcome helps students explore campus, find their people and programs, and learn about all of the amazing traditions and resources at VCU.

First-Year Student Success Courses

First-Year Student Success courses help students to build a strong foundation for college success, connect with students who share their interests and passions, and keep students moving forward toward their goals. 


First-Year Academic Learning Communities 

Through the ALC program, you’ll engage in a unique educational experience by taking three of the same courses with other first-year Rams, and build meaningful experiences with professors (faculty fellows) in your academic program.

VCU Common Book

Building upon the nationally recognized Summer Reading program, the VCU Common Book is an university-wide initiative focused on welcoming our first-year students into the vibrant intellectual culture of VCU. 

Focused Inquiry

The Department of Focused Inquiry offers small, seminar-style classes for first and second-year students as part of the core curriculum at VCU.

First-Year Living-Learning Communities

LLCs are specialized residential environments designed to integrate on-campus living with a focused academic experience. 

Popcorn with Professors

Popcorn with Professors is designed for students and faculty to build connections and positive relationships beyond the classroom.

Men of Color Initiative

The MOC Initiative provides research-based recommendations to aid VCU in the development of holistic and inclusive programs designed to improve undergraduate Black male and Latino student success.

First-Year Rising Series

The First-Year Rising Series consists of exciting events and activities to engage and acclimate students during their first year in college and to support them as they transition to their second year.

Culminating experiences

First Year Rising Ceremony

The First-Year Rising Ceremony is a culminating event that occurs at the end of VCU students’ first year of college; honoring students for their dedication, fortitude and tenacity as they RISE to their sophomore year.

Palooza on the Plaza

The First and Second Year Palooza on the Plaza is one of the last transitional experiences you will engage in as you prepare to embark on your second year at VCU.