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UW Introduces New Student Onboarding Program

December 22, 2021
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First-time students will take part in the Saddle Up program, which offers an immersive college experience, at both UW and UW-Casper in August 2022. (UW Photo)

First-time students attending the University of Wyoming next fall will “Saddle Up” for an exciting college experience.

In an effort to instill a sense of community and belonging from the very beginning, UW will unveil the Saddle Up program. The weeklong slate will provide incoming students with a realistic preview of college life, with emphasis placed on increasing rates of student success.

What Is It?

From Aug. 14-19, 2022, Saddle Up will offer students a look into the experience of an academic semester, including participation in classes, homework, fitness and wellness time, college connection time, study time and essential skills sessions. This program, which is mandatory for incoming students, will take the place of previous incoming student activities such as orientation or Cowboy Connect.

Participation in this experience will earn students one credit hour of UW credit.

Who Will Participate?

The program is designed for first-year (freshmen or transfer) students at UW. It will begin with the freshman move-in event in the residence halls Sunday, Aug. 14, followed by a welcome dinner and program kickoff. All attendees will be assigned to small groups of eight students, known as “Poke Packs,” each featuring a current student who will serve as a mentor and coach.

Who Will Lead the Event?

Current UW students will provide mentorship and coaching throughout the week. These Poke Pack leaders will equip incoming students with advice about academic preparation, including notetaking, managing time and course loads, exam preparation skills, and exploration of UW’s academic and student support services and experiential learning opportunities.

What About Transfer Students?

The optional transfer program will be hosted Friday and Saturday, Aug. 19-20, and will focus on familiarizing incoming new transfer students with UW resources. Transfer students on the Laramie campus are invited to attend the Friday activities for first-year students, but they will have programming specifically dedicated to their needs. Transfer students on the UW-Casper campus will have a program tailored to their needs, including online programs to access special modules to familiarize themselves with UW’s resources.

What Will This Accomplish?

Results from peer universities with similar programs show that short academic preparation programs, designed to accelerate adjustment to college life, increase retention and academic success by giving students low-stakes opportunities to build their resilience and success skills. Similar programs at peer institutions have resulted in an average 7-10 percent increase in first-to-second year retention rates; significant positive impacts to graduation rates and grade-point averages; higher student confidence and resilience; and reduced achievement gaps.

“This program will be transformative for our incoming students,” says Anne Alexander, vice provost for strategic planning and initiatives. “Through Saddle Up, they will connect with fellow students; get to know faculty and staff in their colleges; have a chance to get used to being in a college classroom and the pace of work at UW; and build their resilience and comfort with this new phase of their lives. We know this program works, and we’re really excited to launch it this fall.”

How Do I Learn More?

Parents, prospective students and incoming students can contact the UW Student Success and Graduation Hub at (307) 766-4858 or A newly developed Saddle Up website also offers more details.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137


Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929


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