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CLASS: Coordinated and Linked Approaches to Student Success

CLASS Initiative III

ONBOARDING

The concept of onboarding originates in the corporate realm, where it refers to the assimilation of new employees to the local corporate culture. It is a broad concept which includes both introduction to policies, processes, responsibilities, and benefits. Thus “onboarding” includes purposes traditionally served by the orientation process, but is more expansive. A version of this notion of the more comprehensive welcoming experience, one which involves adjustment to academic culture, as well as basic campus life issues, is being widely adopted by academic institutions. As UTSA explores the implementation of an onboarding process thus defined, the distinction between onboarding and orientation is important to recognize, because UTSA already has an orientation regimen, one which has been adjusted in recent years, and it will be important to marry the best of current practice with a fresh vision for the new student experience. 

UTSA currently has a large number of activities that may be classified as onboarding. Generally these activities are successful, but they typically reach small numbers of students, often focus on disciplinary preparation, and few are scalable. To accelerate student success rates, a larger, more general, and scalable program is desirable. The Summer Academy concept, with a target audience framed to suit UTSA risk and retention patterns, presents the recommended model. Certain existing activities can be realigned to support the UTSA Summer Leadership Academy and minimize new costs. In realigning resources, priority should be given to assisting admitted UTSA students. 

CLASS Strategies for Onboarding