Campus Life

Arriving at Western Michigan University

You probably did some research about Western Michigan University before arriving here. You may have looked for information about the University posted on the website or read materials from other sources. You may even have talked to friends who are current students or former students—WMU’s international alumni. What you may not already know at this point is that WMU is honored to have such a vibrant international student population that brings a lot more than different cultures and diversity to campus. Out international community enriches WMU in many ways by giving WMU a window into other countries of the world and expanding friendships and horizons.

We recommend that you arrive 1 to 2 days prior to the start of orientation to recover from travel fatigue. Please remember that many University offices close between academic terms and will not open until orientation begins. Arriving too early and expecting to take care of business prior to orientation is not always possible.

The International Student Orientation and Registration Program is required for all newly admitted WMU international students. This is a comprehensive program that helps students adjust to the University, find housing, take care of banking and identification cards, meet with academic advisors, and learn about WMU policies. All incoming students will be billed for the orientation program.

Bronco NetID

The Bronco NetID is your photo identification card at WMU, which allows you to access many campus services, including the library, dining halls, the recreation center and various campus labs, etc. The Bronco Card also provides free access to Kalamazoo's Metro Transit bus service. The Bronco card can also be used to obtain discounts at numerous campus and Kalamazoo-area retailers, bookstores, restaurants, etc. Students attending orientation will receive their Bronco card as part of the orientation process with no charge to their student account.


Living on campus

Residence halls

Residence halls support nearly 5,000 students who enjoy the friendships, living/learning focus, and diversity of campus life. Residents can take advantage of activities in the hall, leadership opportunities, high-speed internet, staff available 24 hours, close proximity to the dining halls, and many other campus conveniences designed to support busy college students. For a comparison of the halls, please refer to the residence hall summary chart.

WMU apartments

WMU apartments are conveniently located close to the WMU campus. Apartment rent includes all utilities, cable television services, and an apartment parking sticker. Furnished or unfurnished apartments are available.

Living off campus

There are many apartment communities close to campus.  Off-campus apartments can be a good option once you are familiar with life in Kalamazoo.

Dining Services

WMU Dining Services offers many options designed to provide a wide variety of healthy food choices to the WMU community. Individual meal plans are purchased online for use at the various dining Halls. Establishing a Dining Dollars account online is another option for purchasing meals in WMU's dining halls and cafeterias. 

Banking information

Americans do not usually carry a lot of cash. They prefer to pay for purchases with a credit or debit card. To function efficiently in the United States' economy, you will need to open a checking account at a local bank or credit union. This section introduces you to a few of the basic banking options available.

When selecting a bank or credit union, you should compare services and choose one which is conveniently located. When you open an account, most financial institutions require two pieces of identification (passport, driver's license, etc.). You do not need a Social Security number to open accounts; if your bank asks for a Social Security Number, fill out the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) W-8 BEN form, which will prove to the bank that you are exempt from this requirement.  W-8 BEN Form

International students can choose any bank to use. For the students’ convenience, PNC Bank has a branch located in the Bernhard Center on WMU's main campus. This is a full-service branch offering checking, savings, certificates of deposit, on-campus ATMs, personal and business loan services, mortgage services, trust and investment services, as well as MasterCard and Visa service.

Types of accounts

Checking accounts

Banks and credit unions offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of having a checking account varies based on the financial institution. Some banks/credit unions charge a per-transaction fee, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services if you maintain a minimum balance in your account at all times. Your canceled checks and a list of all the account activity of the preceding month will be sent to you in a monthly statement and/or will be accessible online. Keep an accurate record of every check you write to avoid having checks returned for non-sufficient funds (bounced check) and incurring additional charges. “Bouncing” a check (writing a check for more money than you actually have in the account) can cause a major expense and negatively affect your credit score.

Savings accounts

A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your money. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. Although you can withdraw money from your savings account, this service is limited. Ask your bank for the number of monthly withdrawals permitted without penalty. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you receive higher interest in a savings account, and fewer transactions take place since the purpose is to save your money.

Interest checking account

Interest checking accounts provide the services of both a checking and a savings account. This means that you can write checks and also collect interest on the money in your account.

Credit unions: Credit unions are different from banks—they are a member-owned financial institution. Credit union accounts often offer lower fees and higher interest rates for checking and savings accounts. They may also offer car loans and credit cards with lower interest rates than banks.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM): You can complete many transactions at an ATM—cash withdrawals, deposits, and transfers between checking and savings accounts. You can also view your account balance. ATM transactions are typically free of charge if handled at a machine located at your bank or credit union or one of its branch offices. Expect to be charged a fee of $1.50 to $5 for transactions at ATM machines that are not owned by your bank or credit union. The fee is always disclosed before the transaction is completed.

Online banking and bill paying: Most financial institutions offer online access through a secure website to check your account balances, transfer funds, etc., which is usually free. Expect to pay a small fee for online bill paying services.

Direct deposit: Direct Deposit is a service that makes it possible for compensation from an employer to be directly deposited into a checking or savings account. There is no charge, but there may be a limit to the number of free direct deposit transactions per month.

Credit card: A credit card allows you to charge items and pay for them later. A monthly statement will show the charges made on the card and the minimum amount the cardholder is required to pay the credit card company by the due date. If the full balance due is not paid by the due date, fees and high interest rates might apply. A word of caution about credit cards: Because credit cards make it easy to purchase things now and pay later, it’s easy to lose track of how much is spent. Make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford and be prepared to pay a minimum payment each month before the due date. Skipping a bill is not like skipping a class; failing to pay bills on time can lead to a poor credit rating, which may affect your ability to rent an apartment, or secure a loan.

Debit card (also called check card): A debit card is connected to your checking account and is used almost like a regular credit card (such as MasterCard or Visa) except that any charges are immediately deducted from your checking account. Your debit card can also be used at ATM machines for a variety of transactions. Most financial institutions allow for a few no-fee transactions each month before they begin charging you for each transaction.

Certificate of Deposit (CD): If you will be depositing large sums of money in the bank, CDs often offer higher interest rates than regular checking or savings accounts. However, if you withdraw money before the CD matures, a penalty is assessed.

Postal information

The United States Post Service is quite reliable and consistent for sending letters and packages. Mail is delivered to homes and businesses once a day Monday through Saturday. There is no delivery on Sunday or on holidays, with the exception of Express Mail and special delivery letters which are delivered every day of the year. There is a post office mail box (blue) in front of the Bernhard Center and stamps are available for purchase in the WMU Bookstore. To find local branches of the post office and more information about services offered, visit the USPS website:

Getting involved

There is so much to do on campus, especially during the fall and spring semesters. The types of activities and programs available vary greatly. From sports teams to special interest student groups, there are several different ways to network on campus, stay active, and make friends.

The International Programs Council is a WMU student organization dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding. The council organizes campus events, hosts social activities, and provides members with a rich intercultural experience. IPC meetings are held on Friday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The Western Student Association is WMU's student government organization. There are many ways for students to get involved, express student concerns, and to represent the student body of WMU. WSA meets weekly at the Bernhard Center and is a great way for students to get involved with what is currently being talked about on campus!

The Graduate Student Advisory Committee is a committee of and for graduate students at WMU. GSAC’s primary function is to be a liaison between the WMU administration and graduate students.

The Campus Activities Board helps provide the WMU community with diverse entertainment activities that include a movie series and an evening comedy club. CAB strives to represent the interests of WMU students, and helps support the interests and initiatives of WMU's Registered Student Organizations. All WMU students in good standing are eligible to become CAB members.

The Student Recreation Center is a $32 million state-of-the-art center that offers high quality facilities and fitness programs for WMU students and staff. The University Recreation office promotes healthy life-style choices, team building, leadership skills, and opportunities for positive social interaction.

WMU Athletics

Bronco fans have 15 varsity sports to follow—six for men and 9 for women. WMU Broncos are a NCAA Division I FBS team representing Western Michigan University. They compete in the Mid-American Conference in men’s baseball, basketball, football, soccer and tennis; and women’s basketball, cross-country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball. The men’s hockey team competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Sports facilities include Waldo Stadium (football), University Arena (men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball), Lawson Arena (hockey), Hyames Field (baseball), Ebert Field (softball), Sorensen Courts/West Hills Athletic Club (men’s and women’s tennis), and Kanley Track (women’s track and field). The soccer teams compete at the WMU Soccer Complex located near the Parkview Campus.

You should know:

  • School colors are brown and gold (with black accents).
  • WMU’s mascot is known as Bronco Buster. He’s often seen at games and events.
  • The school’s primary intra-state rival is Central Michigan University.
  • All WMU students are admitted free to WMU home athletic events by presenting a valid Bronco Card at the student gate.

WMU Alma Mater

In the United States, alma mater can be used as a reference to an academic institution—used in place of the name of the university or college a person has attended or graduated from—or as a song:

Western we sing to you
Brown and Gold
Western we bring to you faith untold
You challenge and inspire
Your hope is our desire
We sing to you our Alma Mater
Brown and Gold

WMU Fight Song

Fight songs are a popular way for Bronco fans to cheer for WMU teams at all games:

Fight on, fight on for Western!
Take the ball, make the score
Win the game
Onward for the brown and gold
Push ‘em back, push ‘em back!
Bring us fame!
Fight on, fight on for Western!
Over one, over all, We will reign!
Fight, Broncos fight!
Fight with all your might!
Western win this game!

Student activities and leadership programs

WMU is home to more than 300 Registered Student Organizations, including many specifically representing international student populations. WMU encourages all students to enrich their academic lives, become involved in campus activities, and to join student organizations.

The Student Activities and Leadership Programs office works to inspire excellence in student leadership development, and to engage students in programs outside the classroom. Staff members provide support and services to students and to student organizations  to enhance student learning and personal development.

The Division of Multicultural Affairs serves as an information resource on the role and value of diversity in education for WMU, and for the greater Kalamazoo communities.

The Office of Disability Services for Students at WMU is committed to assisting students with disabling conditions in their pursuit of educational and career goals, as well as personal development.

Faith and spiritual development

Kanley Chapel is a public inter-faith facility located at the heart of the WMU campus. The chapel represents the University’s dedication and encouragement of personal and spiritual development.

Lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender students

The office of Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Student Services promotes a campus climate that affirms the academic and personal development of all students.

Fraternities and sororities

Greek life is part of Student Activities and Leadership Programs. The mission of fraternity and sorority life at WMU is to cultivate a fraternity and sorority community of excellence with a particular focus on the areas of academic achievement, leadership development, community engagement, and lifelong membership. By developing these skills, we hope to empower our students to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and standards associated with membership in a fraternal organization, while complementing and enhancing the educational mission of our institution.


International students are welcome to participate in volunteering activities. Employment authorization is not needed since these are non-paid activities. WMU's office of Volunteer Services is dedicated to increasing WMU student involvement in volunteer and service-learning activities.


WMU has a main library building and three branch libraries and many library resources are now available through the University Libraries website.

Staying connected after graduation

The WMU Alumni Association exists to serve the University and its graduates by providing alumni with a continuing link to the University and among themselves. The Alumni Association develops and offers a variety of ongoing programs, activities and services, all designed to address the identified needs of its members. The association works to strengthen pride in the University by communicating the progress and accomplishments of the University and its graduates. Through regular communication with the University, the Alumni Association also identifies ways to assist the University in the achievement of its goals.