New Student Orientation

Orientation, Transition & Retention - Welcome Weeks

Welcome Week 2014 - Saturday, August 16 - Monday, August 25

Welcome Week 2014

What is Welcome Week?

Welcome Week is a long standing AU tradition at American University.  For students who participate in Eagle Summit it’s a “welcome back” to campus and to Washington, DC as we begin the academic year.  For others, it’s the first taste of all that AU has to offer.

In addition to AU Welcome Week traditions like the bagpipes leading the new class to the President’s Opening Convocation and the All-American BBQ on the main quad, new AU students can choose to participate in a wide array of programs that range from service to sustainability, civic engagement to athletic engagement all highlighting AU’s connections to Washington, DC as an extension of campus.  By pairing days of exploration and service with evening programs that highlight community leaders and policy makers, you will have the chance to bring your experiences in DC into the context of the city’s challenges and celebrations.  Spend a little time reading through your options.  We look forward to hearing what choice you make!


What You Need to Know

Welcome Week will begin on Saturday, August 16, the first day students can move into their residence halls, and will come to a close on Friday, August 22, with the All-American BBQ. During this week before classes begin, most first-year students participate in one of AU’s hallmark welcome programs. These include–but are not limited to–the Freshman Service Experience, Discover DC, or Explore DC programs.

The Dates. Welcome Week 2014 dates will be announced in Spring 2014.

For Welcome Week 2013, all programs kicked off with events late in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 20, and continued through the evening of Thursday, August 22.

The Fee. The $115 fee for Welcome Week includes dinner on Tuesday, breakfasts on Wednesday and Thursday, and admission to evening events. It also covers supplies, materials, transportation to and from sites (and, in some cases, a SmarTrip card for Metro rides), staff costs, and a program T-shirt. Please plan to bring about $15 per day for lunches and personal expenses.

Registration. Registration will be available for Welcome Week 2014 in June. Log on to the portal with your user ID and password, and click on the links as follows: Life@AU, then New Students, then New First-Year Student Checklist, then Register for a Welcome Week Program. Once registration becomes available, we recommend registering as soon as possible because spaces fill up quickly!

For Transfer Students. Participating in the July 17–18 orientation? Then participate in any of the programs listed. If you choose either the Freshman Service Experience or Discover DC you will be grouped with other transfer students. All other Welcome Week programs will be a mix of transfer and first-year students. Registering for the August 18-19 orientation? Then take part in a one-day Transfer Service Experience or Discover DC. Be sure to register when you sign up for your orientation.

Questions? For more information on any of our Welcome Week activities, email us at or call us at 202-885-3303.


This year, first-year students will have the opportunity to select one of fifteen Welcome-Week programs. Please note that the Freshman Service Experience and Discover D.C. are our two largest programs, with close to a thousand participants between both programs. Many of the programs are full, however the Freshman Service Experience is still taking reservations.

Freshman Service Experience. The Freshman Service Experience (FSE) is the cornerstone of Welcome Week, with more than 600 incoming students each year making connections with D.C. and American University through community service. During the day, work in small groups while joining forces with nonprofit organizations and learning about social justice. In the evenings, come together with other groups for dinner, films, speakers, and social events. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors—with their own first-year experiences to share—will serve as your FSE leaders. Join the more than 10,000 AU freshmen who have participated in this program since 1990, recording more than 200,000 hours of helping others. For more information about the Freshman Service Experience, please visit, or contact the Center for Community Engagement & Service at 202-885-SERV (7378).

Discover D.C. Discover DC celebrates 11 years of connecting AU’s new students with residents of the District in ways that highlight its diversity and history of civic engagement. Explore D.C. neighborhoods and surrounding areas typically missed by tourists. The program begins on Tuesday evening with dinner and group activities. Neighborhood sojourns on the following two days may include tours by local residents, visits to historical sites, and appointments with local agencies and neighborhood associations to learn about issues affecting citizens of our nation’s capital.

Washington D.C.: The Unseen and Untold. Go beyond the TV sound bites, history books, and tourist bus rides to experience a hands-on exploration of Washington from an insider’s perspective. This unique exploration introduces you to the place you will call home for the next four years. Discover the plight of residents living in a “food desert,” learn the story behind the construction of the Washington National’s baseball stadium, and visit the Anacostia Community Museum. See the city the way it should be seen. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the Department of Anthropology and American Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Power, Politics, and Law in D.C. The Constitution assigns different powers to the three branches of the federal government, known as the separation of powers. This two-day introduction to power, politics, and Washington, D.C., reveals how the different branches interact to resolve issues of national importance—and why stark divisions often crop up between law and politics. Past activities have included visits to the offices of a member of Congress and a national civil rights advocacy group. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the School of Public Affairs and the Department of Justice, Law and Society.

Connecting Faith and Social Action. Join American University’s Initiative for Religion and Civic Life for two days, experiencing the connections between religion and meaningful social action. Take part in discussion groups, visit local and national organizations working on social justice from a faith-based perspective, and get an introduction to AU’s certificate in religion and civic life. Also learn about other opportunities for connecting faith and action throughout your college career. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the Kay Spiritual Life Center.

Sites and Bikes: Getting to Know D.C. from a Bicycle Seat. Join fellow new students, AU staff, and Capital Bikeshare for two days of biking in Rock Creek Park and other areas of the city. Bike trail experience is not required. Each participant receives a month-long bikeshare membership. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the office of the Dean of Students.

Kogod Capital Connections: Exploring the D.C. Business Community. Washington lies at the intersection of business and government, but did you ever wonder just how capital moves into, out of, and through this dynamic city? Gain a new perspective on careers in business from AU alumni and business professionals during site visits to six area organizations, such as SiriusXM, the World Bank, and Washington Nationals baseball franchise. Also get a jump start on career planning during a workshop from the Kogod Center for Career Development. Limited to 25 students; coordinated by the Kogod School of Business.

Athletics and Recreation: Learning the Ropes and Hiking at Great Falls Park. On day one, travel to Virginia's Northern Neck region, a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay. Day two takes you to Great Falls Park, a national park, for fun, problem solving, and team building exercises. Tackle an obstacle course, scale a repelling tower, and sail through the trees on a zip line. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by AU’s office of Recreational Sports and Fitness.

AU Alumni Leaders in Action. Wondering how an American University degree prepares you for a successful career? Join the AU Alumni Association for visits to four businesses led by AU alums in the Washington, D.C., region. Topics of discussion will include communicating as a leader, planning your path to success, and accessing the power of networks. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the office of Alumni Relations and the AU Alumni Association.

AU Top Chef: Terrace Dining Room College Cooking Competition. Interested in learning basic cooking skills? Wonder where your food at AU will be coming from? The last thing you want to worry about in college is what to eat. Join the staff of AU’s Dining Services and team of top chefs to learn how to keep your college life at a simmer with great-tasting food. Take basic cooking lessons and get tips for making the most of your floor kitchen and your meal plan at the Terrace Dining Room (TDR). All participants will compete in our Top Chef competition for a chance to win prizes. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by AU Dining Services.

Analyzing D.C….Molecule by Molecule. Think politics, business, and monuments define D.C.? NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and millennia-old geologic formations: these characterize the area as much as our more familiar notions. Train a microscope lens on the wide-ranging scientific side of the city, through trips to science venues like these and D.C. museums, complemented by activities such as cooking, crystal growing, and solar telescope viewing. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Sustainable Campus, Sustainable City: A Green Campus in America’s Greenest College Town. See firsthand what makes AU number one in campus sustainability, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Witness burgeoning sustainability in Washington through a tour of its largest solar array, green buildings, green roofs, and an urban apiary. Meet prominent sustainability experts and enjoy fresh, local, sustainable food. If you’re interested in gearing your education toward protecting people and the planet, this could be your chance. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the Office of Sustainability.

Going Global: The Whole World Right Outside Your Door. Interested in doing something international? You might assume that a job at the State Department is the best way to pursue an international career; but, in fact, many opportunities exist at other organizations in our nation’s capital. This program introduces you to AU alumni and other professionals working in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, all with a global emphasis. Visit such places as the Department of State, Department of Energy, and Greenpeace. Begin networking in D.C.—and planning your future global career. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the School of International Service.

Mission: Improv-able, Welcome Week Edition. This mission is yours if you choose to accept it. Want to use your creativity... to learn to think on your feet? Join AU's comedy improv troupe, Mission: Improv-able, for a two-day learning experience, during which you'll observe professional improvisers in D.C., work with members of Improv-able to get down to the basics, and take part in a live improv performance. Feel confident in your ability to speak and act on the fly, skills to use throughout your life. No experience required. Limited to 25 students; coordinated by Mission: Improv-able. 

Media by Metro: Exploring Area Communication Organizations. Washington, D.C., is an international media hub and one of the country's largest markets for documentary film production. Learn about the field of communication, including journalism, public relations, and film and media arts, from AU alums and other media pros at organizations such as the Washington Post, NBC4, Spectrum (a health and science PR firm), and the Smithsonian museums. Begin planning your career during a workshop with School of Communication advisors. Limited to 20 students; coordinated by the School of Communication.

Welcome Week Program Brochure

Review our 2013 brochure to learn more about potential programs. Look here for our 2014 version, coming soon!



More than four-fifths of the first-year class participated in a Welcome Week program in 2013.

Welcome Week Calendar of Events

Fall Welcome Week

Please review the 2013 schedule for an idea of the programs and events offered last year. We will share the newest version in August.