Western's First Year Experience

Headwaters 100 First Year Seminar

Western Colorado University's campus sits in the heart of the "Headwaters"- the mountainous source of the snow and waters that sustain the environments, economies, and cultures of the American West. Just as life flows from geographic Headwaters, we hope inspiration and success at Western Colorado University flows from this inaugural course, this "Headwaters" of your University experience.

In this course, new students examine the complexity of our Headwaters Region from interdisciplinary perspectives. But we also examine the source of a trans-formative educational experience, and imagine how that can flow into a prosperous intellectual, civic, and personal life. This discussion-based seminar, supplemented by our Headwaters Lecture Series and field trips exploring the Gunnison Country's learning laboratories, introduces you to Western dedicated faculty, diverse disciplines, supportive culture of learning, and active lifestyle.

First-year students to Western will be enrolled in the HWTR 100 First Year Seminar, which is integrally tied into and begins meeting during Orientation to provide students with a seamless transition into the campus and community culture. During the seminar, students will examine the “place” surrounding Western and the community. This is a discussion-based seminar that may include convocations, community service projects, workshops and field experiences. Academic themes include an introduction to the liberal arts, community sustainability, and the social, natural and cultural surroundings of the region. Academic support services and other resources for students will also be stressed during the seminar. A course description is available here.

Exploratory Program

Facilitated by the Academic Resource Center, the Exploratory Program assists students who are unsure of their major course of study. The program will provide undeclared students with a personalized action plan and investigative opportunities regarding majors. In addition, the program gives undeclared students a sense of “place” and belonging as they explore a major and profession matched to their skills, values, interests, and abilities. Learn more about the Exploratory Program here....


Western is hosts one orientation session for all first-time freshman* and transfer students with less than 24 credits. Over the five days, students will rotate through four blocks of programming, which include: a Headwaters 100 (HWTR 100) service learning project; introduction to academic resources; “Life at Western” to learn about college life and the social issues that come with it; and Wilderness Pursuits trips or walking tours of the local communities. Activities also include programs for families and guests, a welcome barbecue and evening events hosted by student clubs and organizations. Learn more about Orientation here.....

(*This applies to any student entering Western who has not lived on a residential campus before.)

Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO)

​The purpose of Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) is to provide an opportunity for you to meet other new students and make meaningful connections, build friendships and get to know the incredible recreational opportunities that Gunnison has to offer before you begin your first semester here at Western. Find out more at www.western.edu/wbo.