Online orientation reaches students remotely

Graphic illustrating steps for first-year students.
By Sean Park
Most incoming students at the University of Washington Bothell are introduced to campus life and resources by staff in Orientation & Transition Programs. When the coronavirus pandemic halted in-person advising and orientation sessions this year, however, the OTP team knew it had to rally and re-engineer its programs to deliver this vital information to new students virtually. 

“We want to make sure incoming students are still getting the right information to succeed at UW Bothell,” said Carrie Newman, assistant director of Orientation Programs. “Having live online sessions gives students an opportunity to connect with each other and feel a sense of belonging to the Husky family.” 

Taking puppy steps 

Carrie Newman

Carrie Newman

 All incoming students will now go through a series of checkpoints to finish their orientation process online. Some steps are asynchronous, i.e., students can complete them at their own pace. Others are live, or synchronous, sessions where students can connect, in real time, with campus resources and other new students.

The first checkpoint is UWB 101, an asynchronous information session explaining UW Bothell culture, where things are located on campus, and what services and resources are available to students. 

“Classes are resuming in the fall,” noted Newman, “and safety is a top concern.” 

Once students complete UWB 101, they can sign up for a synchronous virtual Advising and Orientation session during which they can interact with current students as well as other new students. The OTP team is also present to answer questions and provide additional information to ensure students are feeling comfortable and knowledgeable about available services and resources. 

Next, transfer students then meet with their academic advisers in a group setting, while first-year students meet with advisers in one-to-one appointments 

“Our goal with the advising and orientation process remains the same,” said Newman. “We hope students start to feel connected to campus, know the resources and opportunities available to them, and become ready to register for classes.” 

After students register for classes online, the final checkpoint is to attend Welcome Week during the first week of autumn quarter. Welcome Week — which will also be virtual this autumn quarter — features many programs and activities to help students start making connections within the UW Bothell community and building their own Husky experiences.

Unleashing the Dawgs 

Husky plus sign
Concurrently, incoming students can also sign up for Husky+, a new program designed to put students in charge of how they will engage with the campus community. “We like to look at it as orientation ‘unleashed,’” said Newman. 

Husky+ features a variety of virtual sessions on topics ranging from student activities and study abroad to budgeting and job opportunities.

“A big goal of this program is to help incoming students network with each other and learn from those who have gone through the process before them,” said Newman. “And they have an opportunity to win prizes based on their level of participation!” 

Tri Nguyen (STEM ’20) is a project assistant in Student Engagement & Activities who helped organize the Husky+ session Maximize Your Husky Experience with Clubs. “We want students to know about the many clubs we have on campus and that they’re still active despite physical distancing,” he said. “There is a club for almost everyone, but we also want new students to know they can start their own. 

“We’re hoping that this session gives students a feeling of camaraderie with SEA and the campus,” Nguyen said, “and that they’ll want to get involved as soon as they begin their journey here.” 

Each Husky+ workshop is held multiple times throughout the summer so students can attend when it best fits their schedules. “What’s great about Husky+ is that students can choose what they want to learn more about, when it works for them,” said Newman. “Everyone has different interests, and this format enables them to pick and choose what’s important for them. 

“UW Bothell has so many resources that during in-person orientation, we don’t have time to cover everything,” she said. “With Husky+, we have the opportunity to have many more touch points than we regularly can cover in person.”

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