The First 5 program officially launched in 2019 and has taken place in a variety of formats over the last three years. The program exists to help continue to orient students as they transition to campus, providing opportunities for engagement with campus resources through the first five weeks of the semester. As the third step of the orientation process, First 5 takes a scaffolding approach to student transitions by building on the ideas introduced to new students through Mustang Startup sessions over the summer and Stampede when students first arrive on-campus.
The First 5 program consists of individual experiences students can complete on their own time as well as in-person, group events designed to introduce students to campus. The goal of the program is to provide benchmarks for incoming students to meet in pursuit of a smooth transition by offering opportunities for students to meet important people on campus, get involved in institutional spirit and traditions, engage with academic and social resources available, and learn about SMU’s connections to the Dallas community. First 5 is built on 5 core principles: People, Academy, Campus, Spirit, and Community. Each week of the program focuses on one of these five principles and has individual activities and events related to that particular principle.
This year, new strategies were implemented to bolster First 5 program offerings, create new partnerships, and increase awareness of the program throughout campus. One new opportunity for this year’s program included partnering with the Housing Unification Board to offer Commons Cup points students could earn for their commons by participating in First 5 activities. Additionally, the program introduced a new app called Scavify to introduce First 5 in a scavenger hunt format. The Scavify app introduced new ways to gamify First 5 and introduce the program’s benchmarks as a fun way to engage with campus resources, explore Dallas, and meet other people. Through the app, students could check-in at various locations around campus to show they had found particular campus resource locations, upload photos of themselves at key campus or community traditions, and upload photos of themselves meeting key individuals on campus. In addition to the Housing Unification Board, The Office of Student Experience also partnered with Engaged Learning, Engage Dallas, Social Change and Intercultural Engagement, and Campus Rectreation for this year’s program.
This year, Student Experience also sought to include sophomore students who wanted to learn more about campus and engage with in-person opportunities they may not have had during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sophomore student Sameet Banerjee participated actively in First 5 this fall and said of the program, “First 5 allowed a sophomore like me to engage in the resources SMU offers and meet Mustangs of all classes who are now some of my best friends today!”
First 5 will take place again this upcoming spring to help transition incoming spring students to SMU in January and February. The Office of the Student Experience plans to continue refining the program to better serve new students, transfers, and any student who wants to learn more about the resources and community SMU has to offer. To learn more about the First 5 program, please visit the Student Experience website.