First-Year Experience

Welcome New V-Hawks!

What to expect at Viterbo University

You have a lot to look forward to in your first year of college, so we designed a program to help you navigate these exciting new times. Our goal is to support your transition to college life and all the opportunities that come with it, including helping you adjust to our academic expectations and providing you with ways to connect with others and establish lifelong friendships.

First-Year Seminar

Franciscan Values and Traditions

The first of four seminars that introduce students to the mission of the university, Franciscan Values and Traditions is a discussion-based course designed to meet your specific needs as a first-year student.  In this course, we introduce you to Viterbo’s five core values, and we encourage you to reflect on and develop your own set of core values as you become acquainted with resources on campus that support your personal growth.  We also challenge you to become an engaged learner both in and out of the classroom by incorporating a number of cross-campus experiences, including participation in the common read.

First-Year Common Read


Each year, our common read selection introduces new V-Hawks to intellectual life at Viterbo University.  As part of your first-year seminar, you will engage with one common book in which an author shares their personal story of struggle, turmoil, and success as they grapple with broader social issues of their time.  You also attend one common read event with the author, which allows you to participate in a whole-campus conversation.  Mark your calendar for this year’s conversation with common read author Sarah Smarsh on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2024, sponsored by the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership.

Smarsh was born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, the child of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. In HEARTLAND, she introduces readers to a compelling cast of characters from her own family—grandmothers who act as second mothers, farmers who work themselves to the bone, builders who can’t afford their own homes, children who move from school to school.

Smarsh maps their lives against the destruction of the working class wrought by public policy: the demise of the family farm, the dismantling of public health care, the defunding of public schools, wages so stagnant that full-time laborers could no longer pay the bills. Readers will learn what Smarsh did: Working hard in this country probably won’t get you ahead after all.

The complex, often brilliant people of Smarsh’s story defy stereotypes amid a culture that embraces the term “white trash,” suggesting that some lives are of lesser value and even dispensable. Part memoir, part social analysis, part cultural commentary, Heartland is an uncompromising look at class, identity and the perils of economic hardship in a wealthy nation.



V-Hawk Orientation Days

Destination: Viterbo

Your journey at Viterbo is just beginning, and it continues with V-Hawk New Student Orientation Days. Held prior to the beginning of the fall and spring semesters, Orientation is designed to ease your transition to Viterbo and is a great time to discover everything Viterbo has to offer. Whether you’re a new first-year student coming from high school or you're transferring from another institution, orientation programming will help you learn about your new home away from home, from what classes will be like to what there is to do on the weekends.

V-Hawk Orientation Summer Newsletters

We recognize that the transition to college is a significant one and that there are lots of new things to learn! In the weeks leading up to Orientation weekend, new first-year students will receive e-newsletters that will:

  • connect you with key resources and information that will help you be successful in your first weeks and months at college,
  • share what we love about Viterbo and La Crosse, and
  • introduce you to the 30 or so upper-class Orientation Leaders who are looking forward to getting to know you and making your transition to Viterbo as smooth (and fun!) as possible.

Be checking your Viterbo student email after STAR to make sure you don't miss these newsletters!