Since the early 1970s, the University of Washington has offered orientation for new students. The program was optional and fee-based and always included academic advising and registration for classes. In 2002, the Special Assistant to the Dean, a staff member in the Office of Undergraduate Education, proposed a drastic change to the way new students were welcomed to campus. The staff recognized that all students needed an opportunity to get acclimated, be introduced to resources available and learn how to be successful at the UW.
A proposal to implement an enrollment fee for all new students, both freshman and transfer, was created to fund this new initiative. It came from the idea that orientation should emphasize academic values, stress the importance of intellectual discovery, value diverse learning opportunities and actively pursue academic excellence.
From this idea, Advising & Orientation (A&O) was created. With the implementation of the NSEOF, the former office of New Student Programs was transformed into First Year Programs (FYP) with the purpose of implementing and facilitating programs and services for new students. Campus partnerships were utilized and strengthened to ensure students would have the opportunity to meet their fellow new Huskies, discover the resources campus has to offer and register for classes for the upcoming quarter. With this new orientation process, made possible by the collection of the NSEOF, the class registration playing field was actually leveled, as students were able to sign up for orientation on a first-come first-serve basis and register for classes while on campus for their orientation. In addition, because the NSEOF was required for all students, financial aid could build it into a student’s aid package.
The NSEOF funds the office of First Year Programs, which is responsible for A&O, Dawg Daze, Commuter Commons, and First-year Interest Groups. The NSEOF also funds the wages of the student employees within FYP, including the positions of the Commuter Commons Associates, Student Coordinators, Orientation Leaders, and the First-year Interest Group leaders, who work within the office and dedicate their time and energy to the FYP mission. A portion of the NSEOF also funds Academic Support Programs (ASP). ASP is responsible for facilitating academic achievement courses, tutor/mentorship and the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE).
The NSEOF can only be increased through approval by the regents and has only seen minimal increases in the last thirteen years. First Year Programs does not receive state funding from the University, but does operate other programs and services for students and families, including a comprehensive Parent Orientation program, that have optional fees.