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A New UW Vision for International Student Transition and Onboarding

Recently, the University of Washington made the decision to take a more active and direct role in enhancing the transition and on-boarding experience of undergraduate and graduate international students. As a result of this decision, the University asked CIRCLE to lead in the implementation of the new vision for international student transition and on-boarding moving forward. This new vision expands on the University’s commitment to international students by increasing staff capacity to offer engagement, support, and advocacy to students. It also helps streamline information by leveraging existing UW systems and programs. Finally, this new vision increases students’ ability to connect with the University and with each other by introducing virtual engagement throughout summer and tailored in-person programs once new students arrive on campus.

Below are more details on how CIRCLE plans to execute the University’s new vision for international student on-boarding and transition.


To help streamline information presented to students, two specific channels of communication will be the main point of contact between the UW and new international students. These two channels will curate information and introduce it based on specific benchmarks throughout summer. Immigration related information will be part of this new communication and reinforced as necessary. One channel for international undergraduate students already exists through First Year Programs (FYP) while a second channel for international graduate students will be created and administered by CIRCLE.


Virtual engagement throughout summer will facilitate community building and present information in real-time for students as they prepare to arrive in Seattle. The engagement will look different based on students’ class standing. Undergraduate students will be part of the Regional Connection Groups (RCG), a partnership between FYP and CIRCLE.  Graduate students on the other hand will have the opportunity to join webinars and social gatherings specific to their needs. It is important to note that sessions that cover key information will be recorded and available to students via an online resource in the event they are not able to attend the live session or might need a refresher.


Since most relevant information to student transition will be presented virtually throughout summer, this shift allows for all welcome events to focus on community building, cultural transition and help students adjust to their new lives at the UW and Seattle. This model also allows for students to connect with the peers they met during summer which will allow for a deeper connection once they meet each other in-person. All welcome programs will be in-person events.

Continued Support

A direct benefit of having consistent communication and interaction with international students throughout summer is that there is opportunity for CIRCLE, ISS, and other key UW units to establish a working relationship and trust. A goal will be to continue to strengthen these relationships through a peer advising model and other strategic programming throughout Autumn quarter.

To allow for this vision to come to life, University leadership has committed to maintaining the same level of resources that currently exists. Please note that by leveraging virtual engagement and the current UW infrastructure, this new vision provides a better stewardship of university resources.

Any questions related to this new vision can be directed to Dr. Felipe Martinez, CIRCLE Executive Director at  We look forward to your continued support as we enter a new phase of international student engagement and support at the University of Washington.