New student orientations are an important way to welcome students to a program, begin to set expectations and help students get started feeling part of a unit. Orientations can occur as one-time events or activities that continue into the semester.
Geography: One activity that has been successful is the faculty panel on succeeding in graduate school which is held during the orientation for incoming students. Faculty panelists talk informally about keys to success, barriers they faced during graduate school, strategies for having a good graduate experience. The panel is fun and relaxed, and both students and faculty enjoy it. It’s also a great way for new students to meet the faculty in an informal setting. We also invite continuing students to attend, and their participation significantly enhances and expands the conversation.
Materials Science and Engineering: Our unit provides the students with a clear set of expectations for the PhD program and when they are expected. The DGS communicates these expectations to the students during the fall orientation and during the PhD program information session in the spring semester annually to the first year graduate students.
View more information about Graduate Orientation Sessions from the Graduate Contacts Monthly Meeting, August 2011.
Agricultural and Consumer Economics: One practice that we have found very valuable is close interaction with and empowerment of our graduate student organization (GSO). The GSO organizes and provides “Buddies” for incoming students, a system which has assisted a great deal prior to their arrival and in orientation throughout the first year.
Agricultural and Biological Engineering: Our three-course series ABE 501, 502 and 594 work well: 501 teaches how to be a good graduate students; 502 teaches how to conduct and excel in research, and 594 opens eyes to all related areas (the I4 seminar series).
Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences: The practice that stands out as particularly strong in our department is the professional orientation course. It is a linchpin in the department’s efforts to provide excellent professional development training and improve student retention in the program.
Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology: Our orientation course addresses many of the skills students will need in their careers, including proposal writing and evaluation, pedagogy and time management.