Getting You up to Speed

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a couple of guys who got off to fast starts in the college, landed great jobs before they graduated and were backpacking through Europe for a few weeks before starting their professional lives with GE Healthcare and Citibank. The blog post was entitled The Value of a Fast Start and I used their stories at Welcome to the Majors as great examples of how students could thoughtfully execute a plan to “get to the one.” I then went on to shake hands and briefly chat with about 300 of our new students about their plans for the future.

Those conversations and that blog post got me thinking about how we on-board students, especially our transfer students who made up the bulk of attendees at Welcome to the Majors this summer. On-boarding involves helping newcomers acquire the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective members of an organization. It is designed to remove some of the frustration and anxiety around being new and get people up to speed quickly so they can become productive contributors sooner and more smoothly.

Our college orientation focuses largely on course planning and the rules of academic standing and graduation requirements. Welcome to the Majors introduces students to the culture of the college, a few key people and our student organizations. But neither of these events focuses on the transition to the College and the “street smarts” necessary to succeed with us. So, I’m taking some time this summer to think through that process and put some resources toward a better on-boarding program.

What I could use from all of you, especially those students who just joined us, are examples of the difficulties you have had in adjusting to your new college and suggestions on what we could do about it in the first few weeks you are here. Just leave your thought as comments to this post. I’m not sure we will be able to address all of them, but the process starts with me listening.

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6 thoughts on “Getting You up to Speed

  1. I think maybe to ease transition is possibly to assign student mentors. They could help incoming students with getting situated with the campus, as well as people in key areas like financial aid, student services and career counseling. This program may already be implemented in some form or another but I am not aware of one on the regional campuses. These student mentors could help assist the new students with direction and guidance in the absence faculty or staff.

  2. Hello Dean Jarley,

    I relate to this and am also spending my summer working toward finding a solution. As a first generation/non-traditional/transfer student, I found the transition to be very difficult. It is as if you just learned the in’s and out’s of your local college and now you have to go through that all over again while increasing your work load. You hear everyone talking about all the opportunities available, people throwing all kinds of information at you, and signing all kinds of sheets for things that you have forgetten about as soon as your head is done spinning.
    As the Activities Coordinator for Tau Sigma National Honors Society, Zeta Chapter, I am hoping to design a buddy program for our members to connect with first semester transfer students. As I am sure you know, Tau Sigma stands for transfer student, and our mission is “to recognize the academic achievement of students transferring to the University of Central Florida from another academic institution,” and “It is our goal to encourage and promote involvement at UCF, especially in activities and programs that assist other transfer students in making a successful transition.” Our mission and goal is what the buddy program would be designed around. The idea is that a Tau Sigma member would be paired with a first semester transfer student, giving advice and providing information about things it usually takes a semester or two to find. This would include things as simple as knowing the best place to park to more in depth information like which UCF offices are best to connect with for what they need.
    Having a buddy there to help you in those moments where you feel like things are worse than they truly are, to provide the comfort of knowing, and to cause the students’ transition to be as smooth as possible, would give the student a better chance of achieving the higher grades they are truly capable of. I believe the hardest part of transitioning is feeling alone, like everyone else knows what is going on while you are lost. It makes you feel like you are not connected, as if you are a turtle peeking your head out of your shell, unsure if it is okay to go or if you should stay hidden. I would love to provide future students with the ability to come out of their shells- in their first semester.
    If I were able to make this possible, I believe it would connect our school in a way that helps our students not only transition smoother, but would also provide a path for other students to become better leaders.
    I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts. I find your constant search for improving student life to be respectable and refreshing. Thank you Dean Jarley!

  3. I just recently attended the “welcome to the majors” event on May 22. It was overwhelming being in such a large atmosphere just leaving Valencia college. If there is a way to introduce students in a smaller setting. For instance, taking the career self assessment first, and then meeting with the career coaches in a smaller group setting. The meetings with our career coaches are more oriented towards our particular areas of study. This will help us build our networking skills in a smaller group setting because our interests and needs our closely related. Then have the “welcome to the majors event” mid semester. Students would then be able to extend their networks even further!

    • I was not able to attend this summer’s “Welcome to the Majors,” however your perspective is very interesting. I also am transferring from Valencia College – East, and am curious as to how we may work together to forefront upcoming student transfers from Valencia College, as part of this effort to betterment of the “on-boarding program.”

  4. I believe this effort is a great way to introduce new coming students, whether freshman or transfers, about the offers and resources available to UCF students. Another great idea for a high turnout may consider higher marketing for the summer “Welcome to the Majors”, that will target transfers and upperclassmen to fulfill the “getting up to speed,” process.

  5. I just joined UCF coming from Seminole State College and although I consider myself to be quite efficient learning computer systems, I must admit that wasn’t the case with Canvas. Maybe a mandatory 15-30min overview of Canvas to include its mobile app (of which I stumbled across by accident) so the student understands its functionalities. In doing so, it would also assist with properly applying the course syllabus and better understanding what the class expectations are as far as Canvas is concerned. If there is already a tutorial available, then most definitely including the mention of it during any of the orientational functions, the website and/or the class syllabus’. Now that I’am familiar, it is not difficult to use at all, in fact I love it! However, considering that there is so much information coming our direction at the beginning of the semester, it does help to have arrow pointing the right way!

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