Orientation sets students up for success


By Douglas Esser
Summer may seem quiet on the University of Washington Bothell campus, but it’s busy for incoming students and the office of Orientation and Transition Programs.

In the June-September period there are 23 orientation events: 14 for transfer students, six for first year students and three for parents. They all find out about academic options and campus resources – where things are and how they work.

“It’s an exciting time of the year for our team,” says Director Terry Hill, right. “There’s a lot of energy when students and parents arrive.”

The goal is to “give students a sense of community on the first day of class,” Hill says. One distinctive way UW Bothell forges an early connection is by assigning each first year student an orientation leader in the spring. The leaders contact the new students by phone, Facebook and email to answer questions. They lead color-coded cohorts through a two-day orientation on campus.

It doesn’t end there. The orientation leader maintains the connection through the first quarter, all the way into December. “That’s something that’s really special,” creating a sense of community and a feeling they belong, says Carrie Newman, advising and orientation program manager.

First year student Robin Cuevas of Kent, left, who plans for a career in nursing, was attracted by University of Washington Bothell’s first year entry in the RN to BSN program.

Terry Hill
orientation table

“I like that only Bothell has a program to go into the first year,” she said on a sunny Discovery Hall plaza. “I could get into it right away.”

Even more students arrive at UW Bothell as transfers from two-year colleges. Transfers receive their own shorter orientation because they’ve already managed the transition to college life.

Montana Hawksford of Shoreline, right, arrived at her July 19 orientation having earned an associate degree in biology from Shoreline Community College. She plans to earn a bachelor’s in biology with a long-term goal of going to medical school to become a medical examiner. “I love forensics,” she said. “Absolutely fascinating.”

Hawksford says she heard good things from friends about small class sizes at UW Bothell. Like many other transfer students, she also has work experience and plans to continue with her job to pay her way. She’s working in admissions in the emergency department at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Orientation isn't just for students. Dozens of parents were welcomed at a July 15 orientation at the North Creek Events Center. They heard about fiscal services, campus safety, housing options, academics and other resources, such as the career center, for their children.

“It’s a big transition for family members as well,” Newman said.

Susan Smith
Montana Hawksford
Robin Cuevas

Among the parents at the orientation was Susan Smith of Stanwood, right, whose daughter Sarah is a fourth-generation Husky. “She has always been passionate about it,” Smith said.

She’s interested in marketing and sales and is aiming for an MBA. “She is very jazzed about the smaller class sizes,” Smith said. “I think that’s a huge plus for Bothell.”

With so many orientation sessions, Newman gives a version of the same introduction speech over and over. For the parents, she says, “You are now all members of our Husky community.” To the students she says, “You have arrived.”

More students, parents and why UW Bothell:

Iqra Sharif
Iqra Sharif

Running Start student from Kent
Intended major: society, ethics and human behavior
Says she likes staying in state, and friends told her about the opportunity for one-on-one relationships with professors.

Ethan Silvas
Ethan Silvas

First year student from Bothell
Intended major: computing and software systems
“I like that it’s new and close by, for sure.”

Miguel Mendoza
Miguel Mendoza

Bothell resident transferred from Cascadia College
Intended major: management information systems
Says he likes the prestige of the University of Washington and feels the smaller campus is better suited to him. "Once I got to Cascadia I was pretty sure I wanted to come to UW Bothell.”

Tad Cornwell and Celine Tangalin

Son Denali Cornwell, first year
Intended major: mechanical engineering or computer science
Attraction: reputation plus Husky band in Seattle.
Tad :“I think it’s going to be a great experience.”

Sharon and John Concha

Son Chris, first year
Intended major: computer engineering
He was accepted at three other schools in western Washington. Sharon Concha said, “When he was here he just had a different air about him. There was something that struck him being on this campus and he was like, ‘This is it.’ What that intangible thing is he didn’t explain, but it was like, ‘This is it.’”

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