Welcome New Families!
New Student and Family Orientation
The New Student and Family Orientation website is open to explore with your student as you continue preparations for their first academic quarter. While many tasks on the New Student Orientation Checklist are for students to complete on their own, we encourage you to explore the resources highlighted on this page. For specific community-building activities and connections, encourage your student to visit the Community page.
In the meantime, we invite you to:
- Use the checklist below to guide your family onboarding experience intended to keep you connected with your student's orientation process and onboarding experience.
- Scroll past the checklist to find shortcuts to department-specific information, recorded webinars, and helpful next steps to follow.
- Review the FAQs for important insight on what you will want to know about your student's new home away from home.
Pro Tip: Bookmark this webpage before you click on the hyperlinks below to more easily navigate your way back!
1. Review the New Student Orientation Checklist
Review the New Student Orientation Checklist, taking note of the required and time-sensitive tasks that your student must complete.
Tip: Once your student sets up their Western Email Account, remind them to check it regularly! This is the primary way the university communicates important information.
2. Review Highlighted Campus Resources and Family FAQs below
Review our Frequently Asked Questions and Highlighted Campus Resources in the blue boxes below to learn more about FERPA, gaining access to a student's account for billing purposes, health and wellness resources, and more.
Tip: Watch the Academic Advising Information for Families video (8.5 minutes), taking note of WWU's academic planning and success resources available to your student along with what to expect from their Advising & Registration session.
3. Review Campus Safety FAQs
Review Campus Safety FAQs to learn about campus police, safety drills, and the services they provide. You can also encourage your student to download LiveSafe, the free campus safety app. Students can use the app to call 911, message campus police through a chat feature, or opt to share their location for assistance. Students also can request a safety escort while they’re walking if they feel unsafe.
Tip: Explore the University Police website to learn about bike registration (bike theft is a problem at most universities and WWU is no exception!) Learn more about campus safety resources.
4. Explore the Viking Resource Hub
Explore the Viking Resource Hub to locate campus resources, services and departments that are curated by function rather than by unfamiliar department names.
Orientation is just the start! Stay connected throughout the year with family outreach office hours (by appointment), monthly family e-newsletters, an annual family weekend each fall, and more. Explore additional ways to stay connected on our Parents and Families page.
On Campus: Visit the University Residences website for important: timelines, move-in information, housing during holiday breaks, how to pay, and how to send mail. Housing Webinars are also available to watch for greater perspective and insight to our on-campus living and learning communities. Still looking for dorm essentials? Check out what items are available for free through the Resident Checkout Program. Learn more about residence hall composting, sustainability education & engagement on the Housing Sustainability page.
Please note: Beginning December 2022, students will receive emails from University Residences about move-in and arrival processes to both their personal and Western email accounts.
Off Campus: Is your student looking for a place off campus to call home? Try these tools for locating available rental properties, finding roommates and understanding tenant rights and responsibilities. Visit Off Campus Living to learn more.
Student Business Office: Understanding how to pay for college
Planning to support your student with financial assistance? Visit the Student Business Office's (SBO) website to find their Checklist 4 Success! This is where you'll find the forms (below) that you'll need to complete in order to access or view your student's financial account:
- Release of Financial Information form allowing SBO staff to speak to you or other payers regarding your student's account.
- Authorization to Apply Financial Aid Funds allowing financial aid funds to pay for more than just tuition and fees, room & board.
- Have your student send you a Payer Invitation to designate a parent or third party to view your student's balance and may payments to their student's account.
- Set up Direct Deposit to prevent delays in financial aid or other refunds.
Watch their How To videos for help with how to complete any of the above tasks!
Learn more about navigating a successful first year by watching the previously recorded webinars on the SBO home page on: financial aid, payments & housing!
Note upcoming tuition & important due dates under Important Dates & Deadlines.
Financial Aid 101
Use the Financial Aid Checklist to help your student navigate through the many steps and important dates to ensure their financial aid notification letter is delivered on time!
Helpful Financial Aid FAQs to note:
- When will my student receive their financial aid offer?
- When will my student receive financial aid funds?
Visit the Financial Aid Services Center for additional resources for new students and their families.
Questions? The Financial Aid Department has one-on-one appointments available for parents and family to schedule online, in person, or on the phone.
Disability Access Center
Learn more about providing support as a family member of a new college student through the Disability Access Center (DAC). Here you'll find a brief overview of the differences between K-12 and Higher Ed and why it’s important that your student begins the dialogue with this office instead of parents and family members.
Visit the DAC FAQs and review those specifically for parents, guardians & family members. You may also find it helpful to read about our new DAC Director, or learn about resources available through the DAC.
Students can contact the DAC to apply for services and learn more about accommodations support and resources at Western. Visit the DAC website to learn more about an Overview of the DAC Process and Documentation Guidelines, or contact the DAC directly by emailing the office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 360-650-3083.
Meal Plans & Dining Services
Residential meal plans are mandatory for students living in the residence halls on campus. Optional meal plans for students living off campus or in Birnam Wood are also available. Study up on your student's meal plan & dining options at WWU by visiting the Meal Plan 101 page. Explore the website to learn more about dining locations & menus, supporting special dietary needs, and more.
We often hear the question, “Can students really get around Bellingham without a car?” The answer is YES! Extremely limited parking combined with the savings from not paying for parking and gas are persuasive reasons to look into alternative transportation options. Watch the Western on the Go! Video and checkout the available tools on the WWU Transportation website to assess your student’s transportation needs.
Counseling & Wellness Center
Learn about Counseling & Wellness Center Services available to support your student's personal and academic goals and to enhance their personal growth and wellbeing here at Western and beyond. Check out their many wonderful programs, some of which include:
See Transition Tips for parents/family for a few pointers on maintaining communication with your new student.
Student Health Center
Students have unlimited access to the Student Health Center, without charge, for nearly all office visits. Learn more about:
- what health services are covered through mandatory quarterly Health Services Fee
- student eligibility
Open Enrollment for 2022-23 Student Health Insurance Plan
WWU provides an optional, affordable, quality health insurance plan to actively enrolled Western students and their dependents. See open enrollment deadlines or plan information for more details.
Learn more about why your student might want to consider a student health insurance plan.
Encourage your student to explore the Western Involvement Network (WIN) to connect with AS Clubs and Organizations, learn about campus events, and explore new interests.
More resources to help your student find connection and support are available by visiting:
- Find your Community in the Viking Resource Hub
- Forming Support Networks in the First-Gen Family Toolkit
Coffee, Tea and Family
Family Outreach Office Hours are available to parents/families of new and current students.
Is your student new to Western this quarter? Do you have questions about how to navigate the New Student and Family Orientation website? Need a crash course in accessing resources and services available to students? Want to be ready with helpful information and advice to support your student’s success at Western?
If your answer is yes to any one or maybe all of these questions, then grab a cup of coffee or tea and meet with our Family Outreach Manager!
Frequently Asked Questions
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to student educational records.
What this means to parents and families is that WWU staff and faculty cannot discuss some aspects of your student's education with you without permission from your student. While FERPA is in place to protect your student, we understand that this is a big change and may take some time to get used to. Offices and departments on campus are happy to talk with you about policies and procedures, even if they cannot discuss your student's specific situation.
For information about how FERPA impacts your access to your student's educational records, please see "How can I access my student’s account to pay tuition or check their balance?" and "Can I gain access to my student's grades?" below.
Your student’s Western Account is part of their educational records, which is protected under FERPA (See "What is FERPA, and how does it impact parent and family access to student records?"). As a result, your student will need to grant you access to their Western Account Online for tuition and billing purposes.
Students must complete the Release of Financial Information e–sign form to allow the Student Business Office (SBO) to speak with family about their Western Account.
Students must send a Payer Invitation through their Western Account Portal to allow parents or other payers to view their balance and make payments. Watch the Send a Payer Invitation video and review Step-by-Step instructions on the SBO's How To page to learn more.
Your student’s grades are part of their educational record, which is protected under FERPA (see "What is FERPA, and how does it impact parent and family access to student records?"). Students have access to their own educational records such as grades and class schedules via Web4U. There is no portal for parent or family access to student grades. We encourage you to discuss a strategy with your student for how and when they will share their grades with you.
Visit the WWU Coronavirus page for the latest updates and campus responses.
The Academic Advising Center has recorded an overview video (8.5 minutes) to help parents and families understand how academic advising is structured, how students can prepare for their Advising & Registration session, ways to explore majors, graduation requirements, and more.
Providing students and employees the opportunity to indicate their pronouns and gender identity is part of fostering a respectful and inclusive university community. Learn more about personal pronouns and gender identity through Western LGBTQ+ and Diversity services and programs.
Western students can checkout laptop computers as well as other technology and digital equipment at no cost using their Western student ID card through the Student Technology Center (STC). The STC also loans out digital still cameras, video cameras, tripods, microphones, lighting kits, digital audio recorders, projectors/screens, public address equipment and much more! Explore the full list of computers and technical equipment that the STC has available to loan to students!
Visit the Technology and Support page of the Viking Resource Hub to learn about available laptops, computer labs, printers, cameras and digital recording equipment as well as available support and training. From the tech & support list, expand the Residence Hall Technology section for specifics about available technology and support in the res halls (dorms). You may also find it helpful to see the Academic Technology and User Services (ATUS) checklist for new students.
Nothing! Eligible students who have paid the mandatory, quarterly Counseling, Health and Wellness fee have unlimited access to the Student Health Center, without charge for nearly all office visits. Visit the Student Health Center website for more information about what SHC services are charged, health insurance plans, hours of operation, and more. See WWU Student Health Insurance Plan for enrollment deadlines, benefits, and eligibility.
In the event of a crisis at Western, the university will use every communication tool at its disposal to share information with the campus community as quickly as possible: Western Home Page, The Western Safety and Emergency Information Page and if you sign up for Western Alerts, you will receive an email or text message notification.
Encourage your student to update their Emergency Contacts via Web4U. The University will only reach out to the individuals on the list in the event of an emergency.
The Student Business Office maintains a current list of banks and ATMs on and off campus from refunding area of their website.