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Husky Experience

The Husky Experience encompasses the transformative educational experiences—inside and outside the classroom—that help our students discover their passions in life and work, become independent thinkers and citizens, and gain the skills that lead to meaningful and rewarding lives and careers.

The Husky Experience leads to

  • Lifelong learning
  • Leadership
  • Career strategy
  • Cultural understanding
  • Community engagement & public service
  • Health & wellness

Read the draft Husky Experience visioning document (PDF).

Download a template of What the Husky Experience Means in the Classroom

Students on a trip to Costa RicaA UW education is more than a degree

It encompasses intellectual challenge and deep disciplinary learning, as well as broad skills and knowledge, and the wisdom to chart one’s own future. It takes the whole campus working together to help students gain more.

The ‘more’

By more we mean skills, knowledge and abilities gained through classroom learning as well as high impact experiences such a studying abroad, jobs and internships, research and leadership projects, and participating in clubs and community organizations.

In 2013 UW faculty and staff focused on student success efforts defined key learning outcomes for the Husky Experience. They include:

  • Lifelong learning:
    The ability to think critically, learn, and reinvent oneself over a lifetime. Employers and communities need graduates who can solve problems and work proactively.
  • Leadership:
    Vision and receptiveness in careers and communities. It’s not just about the title. It’s about integrity, respect for others, and teamwork.
  • Career Strategy:
    A sophisticated approach to work and profession, and an understanding of how broad educational experiences translate into employability.
  • Cultural Understanding:
    A global perspective, the ability to navigate and thrive within diverse communities and workplaces, and an appreciation for the value of diversity.
  • Community Engagement and Public Service:
    A sense of responsibility and understanding of how to contribute to the greater good and how to use educational experiences to benefit society.
  • Health and Wellness:
    A responsibility for oneself and a respect for others. Businesses, communities, and families all benefit from a healthy population.

These learning outcomes have since been refined and are best articulated by the criteria for the Husky 100 award—an award given to 100 students that embody the Husky Experience. Students are evaluated on how well they demonstrate the ability to Connect the Dots and possess a Discovery Mindset, Commitment to Inclusive Community, Capacity for Leadership, and are Ready for What’s Next.

The challenge: Support for student success at scale

Lee Gee discusses sustainable production of classical guitars at a poster session
At the 2012 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Gee Lee discusses challenges in sustainable production of classical guitars, which have traditionally been crafted from exotic woods that are now endangered.

At the Undergraduate Research Symposium, Gee Lee discusses challenges in sustainable production of classical guitars, which have traditionally been crafted from exotic woods that are now endangered.

The UW already has great programs helping students gain these abilities in and out of class (see provost reports for examples). The challenge is to do this for all. Some students engage naturally and opt in. Some don’t know what opportunities are available, or are primarily focused on grades and undervalue the importance of out-of-class experiences. Some want to participate in high-impact experiences, but can’t afford to.

To reach all UW students, the Husky Experience Initiative brings together colleagues from across the UW’s three campuses to:

  • Articulate goals for student success
  • Identify areas where the UW could improve, invest, collaborate, remove barriers, develop tools, or learn more from data
  • Prioritizing and addressing needs for programs, policies, structures, and tools to help students succeed
  • Building capacity to scale efforts and improve access

The Academic & Student Affairs Alliance: a collaboration to support student success

To support this effort, in 2013, administrative units that support student success—Undergraduate Affairs, Student Life, the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, and the Graduate School) joined forces with the newly formed Academic & Student Affairs unit to form the ASA Alliance. These five units work together to enhance the student experience and raise funds for scholarships, fellowships, programs and initiatives that help the University achieve the goals of the Husky Experience.

Selected accomplishments

  • Redefined the undergraduate experience with the Husky 100 award
    The Husky 100 award recognizes 100 students each year who exemplify the Husky Experience — and inspires entering students to make the most of their time at UW.
  • Ongoing collaborations to improve retention and graduation—and a significant increase in the 4yr graduation rate.
    The Retention Task Force identifies and addresses barriers to graduation, updating satisfactory progress and emergency aid policies, developing an exit survey, gathering better data to inform interventions. The collaboration works across the UW to support, fund, and re-engage at-risk students and to close gaps in graduation rates. Efforts dovetail with two national consortia of which the UW is a member: the American Talent Initiative and the APLU Powered by Publics Cluster Initiative.
  • Targeted messages direct to mobile.
    The Husky Experience Toolkit sends weekly messages to all students via MyUW with helpful tips, advice and links to resources to help navigate and succeed at the UW.
  • Increased access to internships and study abroad.
    New scholarships were created to support students who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in unpaid internships or study abroad, administered through the Career Center and Office of Global Affairs.
  • Online video modules ‘flipped’ first year orientation.
    Since 2016, all new students engage in online orientation modules before attending in-person orientation on the UW’s Seattle campus—especially helpful for first generation and international students. First Year Programs also offers a public MOOC version to demystify life at a large, American research university.
  • Increased support for transfer student success.
    UW offers transfer students early access to planning tools that count equivalencies as well as new transfer-specific courses, orientation modules, and mobile messages. UW advising liaisons work with counterparts at Community & Technical Colleges and a task force on transfer student success systematically addresses issues.
  • Seed funding by students for students.
    The Husky Experience Student Advisory Council oversees the Husky Seed Fund, a student-to-student grant program to catalyze projects that impact the student experience.
  • Online tools to help students chart their course.
    UW Graduates posing for a photoUW-IT has developed new tools and improved existing tools to support student success:

    • MyPlan, a web-based tool to help students plan their path to degree, featured in an article on successful online aids to face-to-face advising.
    • MyUW Mobile, a platform that makes it easy to track registration and get information about classes, textbooks and other critical topics on any mobile device
    • Notify.UW, a service that notifies students about course availability, sending messages when a course closes, or when seats become available in a course that had been closed.
    • Pivot, an advising tool to support students in finding alternatives to capacity-constrained majors.
  • Support for faculty interested in linking college to careers.
    For example, departments in the College of Arts & Sciences raised student awareness of employable skills gained in class and how to talk about them. Learn more about the student success templates and the Career Center developed resources for faculty to include in syllabi and on course websites.
  • Integrated Husky Experience goals into all corners of campus life.
    Leaders across the UW’s three campuses have found ways to integrate the goals of the initiative into their work, and to help students understand how to make the most of their Husky Experience. For example, Housing and Food Services launched a First Year Husky Experience residential living/learning community to help new Huskies transition to the UW, navigate their options, and plan for their future. And Athletics helped student workers connect the dots between campus employment, classwork, and personal goals.

Current Focus

UW interns at Microsoft
UW interns at Microsoft

Partners across the ASA Alliance and the UW’s three campuses continue work to enhance the student experience. Currently, groups are working to:

  • Leverage data analysis to identify and support students most at risk of dropping out.
  • Target key groups for interventions and support to reduce achievement gaps and/or improve the student experience: low-middle income students, transfer students, first generation and students from historically underrepresented groups.
  • Develop new tools and data science to inform targeted interventions with the ultimate goal of moving from descriptive analytics towards more predictive analytics.
  • Support increased collaboration across first year learning communities, advising groups, with data and information technology colleagues, and with peer institutions through relevant consortia.


On Campus:

External Partnerships:


Steering Committee and Working Groups