August 26, 2009
Summer has really flown by, friends, but I feel like we've been through a lot. We've picked out classes together, found housing and jobs, put together our pre-school shopping lists. And as we wrap things up and get ready to head into the next school year, it's time for new SI student to get themselves oriented! Let me present to you, the final SI Summer Series post: MSI Orientation!
This one will be brief, since I'm working on my experiences of 2 years ago and my impressions of last year. Still, I've been hearing some chatter about what to expect during orientation, and how much of it to attend (re: optional events). Let me present to you my impressions of what I feel are the most useful parts, and the benefits to attending optional sessions.
Monday and Tuesday: Optional Sessions
Introduction to SI Research - Useful if you are strongly interested in exploring other specializations or working with faculty on research.
Math Skills Refresher Workshop - Resources from this were made available after the fact. Probably not that important for those not pursuing Social Computing, Incentive-Centered Design, or another programming- or math-heavy specialization.
International Student Meeting - As a Michigan native, I have nothing to offer here. I hear it's "strongly recommended," though.
U-M Library Resources and Services Session and SI Computing Session - Monday and Tuesday allow multiple opportunities to attend these session, the latter of which is (I believe) mandatory, but also offered later in the week. The former is a library orientation, especially useful for LIS students, but not absolutely necessary.
"Making Your Way in Graduate School" panel and Informal Outings - Since I think a huge part of orientation is meeting your new colleagues and learning from current students, I thought these sessions were very important. The first is a student panel, beginning with introductions then opening to questions. It is followed by an opportunity to go out into Ann Arbor with some current SI students, see the town and get to know some people (Visiting Days attendees, this may be familiar to you). A great way to identify people with similar interests and know a few faces and names before everything gets started.
Wednesday and Thursday: Mandatory Sessions
Wednesday will probably begin with a breakfast (they feed you a lot during this time-and these are good times to get to know people) and then a few sessions that are basically introductions to faculty and staff, to different specializations and general events/policies. I won't really comment on them because I'm sure they change a bit every year, and are useful any way you slice it.
Specialization Meetings - These will be one of many specialization-centered meetings. They allow for two so that you can explore a second specialization of interest. Tailored students should sit in on one with which their work will closely identify. The first sessions are mostly a chance to chat with a faculty member and current student about the specialization.
Chat Sessions with Faculty and Current Students - These are similar, but less about specializations and more about YOU. This is a good chance to get more general (or super specific) questions answered. If I remember correctly, the first session was a bit more of a presentation on the specialization, the second takes place around town-a professor takes you out to coffee in a small group, basically.
Course Registration and Peer Advising - If you still have questions about registering for classes, the DIAD will be open and current students will be there so you can get this sorted out.
Working in Groups - This is basically a chance to meet your 501 group (IMPORTANT!-you'll be working closely with these people all semester) and do some problem-solving activities to get used to working together. It was a little long, but fun overall and really got you into SI groupwork.
Academic Integrity and Professional Ethics and SI Academic Services and Support These sessions are mostly just a walkthrough of student services and policies you have to know about before you start school. We all know this isn't the most entertaining part of orientation, and last year they followed it with an ice cream social to end everything on a happy note.
A note on the Rackham Graduate School orientation
As someone who had lived in Ann Arbor for many years and was already familiar with the University from her undergraduate experience, I didn't think it necessary that I attend the Friday orientation sessions through Rackham Graduate School. Still, here are my impressions:
I've heard it through the grapevine that the Rackham orientation is a bit more general, talks more about getting settled in Ann Arbor and RSG or University-wide resources that may or may not be useful to you. Also, it's an opportunity to meet graduate students from outside of SI. I think it's a great idea for international students concerned about adjusting to life in Ann Arbor or students eager to know as much as possible about the University's resources. As for meeting other RSG students, there will be other opportunities. Rackham will find you and invite you to many events throughout these next two years. Still, if you have Friday free and want to learn a little more, it can't hurt.
Posted by messelti at August 26, 2009 06:26 PM