Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Kid Gets Orientated

We took the kid up to Fayetteville for her orientation session yesterday. Dropped her off at 8:00 a.m., picked her up at 3:00 p.m.

We saw lots of parents who were participating in orientation -- going through the sessions with their kids, in other words. Some kids had both parents with them. I was a little surprised. I don't think the kids at my university take their parents with them.

Also, why would you want to do orientation with your kid? First, your child is now (nominally, at least) an adult. Get your mitts off and let them do this (very simple) thing for themselves.

#2, holy hell, orientation is boring. Why submit yourself seven hours of mind-numbing lectures about technological opportunities on campus and how to find the library if you're not going to need the information? You're not the student! Why do this?

Maybe I'm missing something.

The kid did fine -- she didn't precisely enjoy the experience (because it was boring) but she said it went okay, and she met some other artists when they got divided up to be advised. Also, turns out her ACT score was high enough that she's exempted from having to take Comp I and Comp II. Which is excellent, because boy would she hate those classes.

So she's taking nine hours of studio arts, an honors-level anthropology class, and US History I. No classes on Friday, which she's very happy about.

Meanwhile, Dr. Skull and I talked to the treasurer about the tuition discount I get, and then hung out with Charger, Dr. Skull's BFF who lives in Fayetteville. I worked on my novel edits while they watched a movie. We also drove around visiting bookstores and looking at houses. I'd love to rent a house in FV. Oh, well, one day maybe.


D Shannon said...

My first thought: Just what level are Comp I and Comp II on if a high test score can permit someone to skip them?

I tend to overestimate people's reasoning skills, but reading the local newspaper's letters to the editor or hearing my mother's attempted explanation of politics tend to shock me with how bad they are. ("One person's per capita may not be another person's per capita" and "I can make a budget, so I know what economics is" are two classics from my mother.)

Bardiac said...

It sounds like you did orientation right!

At my campus, they tend to separate the parents and give them different sessions, mostly. I think. But they're all there!

delagar said...

Bardiac: Ha! They should have done that with these parents, IMO. That sounds much more sensible.

D Shannon: she scored pretty high! I sort of wish we had this option at our university (letting students skip basic classes if they qualify). There's also a separate math test they can take to skip the math req, but she doesn't think she could score highly enough on that.

Nicoleandmaggie said...

My parents put me on a plane (multiple tickets were too costly and my mom had to work). I think I was the only kid who showed up without parents. Here we give the students something like a full week of orientation (and brainwashing). I don't know what we do for parents, though we have had parents show up with their kids for graduate school interviews which is weird.

Hope she has a great year!

delagar said...

But what do you do with students for an entire week?

Literally the only two things that happened during my kid's orientation were that that she got advised, and that she had her school ID made.

delagar said...

And parents showing up with their kids for graduate school?! Holy hell. Put that helicopter in storage, people.

nicoleandmaggie said...

Mostly brainwashing, I believe. My R1, as with most football playing schools in the South, is really big on school spirit. I do know there's a part of the week where they get implicit bias training. But most of them don't remember it because it's squished in the middle of a full day of academic stuff.

Come to think of it, mine (way back before this crop of freshmen was born) was a few days long and we learned about things like enthusiastic consent (because I went to college at a really great undergrad!) and we made up songs for our dorm ("We've got our own rooms with walls that are peach, you've got something something, baby we've got a beach. something something a big screen tv, something something... but north always beats south, just ask Robert E. Lee, you've got the not [name of dorm] not [name of dorm] blues") and played stupid getting to know each other activities just like at summer camps! There was also a financial aid portion that I completely did not pay attention to other than yeah, this money will have to be paid back in the future, but I signed the forms anyway. Oh, and placement exams for writing and Spanish.

I think that orientation was a few days for the undergrads at my grad school too, but a lot of that was students choosing which dorm they wanted to live in. Wow it has been a long time... I don't remember that as well even though as RAs we were in charge of part of it. We also made them do roommate bonding exercises (like they had to discuss *in advance* whether or not it was ok to have sex in the room with the other person there, because what seems ridiculous at the beginning of the year is a whole lot more likely to seem reasonable for the roommate who is really attracted to a new significant other later on).


Anonymous said...

When I did orientation about 15 years ago at a state flagship, it was compulsory to have an adult attend, although they mostly did separate stuff.

delagar said...

How odd. Maybe it's so that the parents can learn what they can (and need) to do? Like, here's how you pay, and here's why you can't access your kid's grades, and so on?

I mean, I know all those things, because I work in a university, but other people might not.

Harry East said...

When I was a new student (2014) orientation worked a little differently at the University of Auckland (in NZ) to how it works now... different degree programmes/faculties did pretty much entirely their own things (there are more than half a dozen of them). The following year was the first of a more coherent, centrally administered approach which continues to this day. However, the faculties still choose who speaks and what goes on in their "faculty sessions". At the start of this year (i.e. March) I was at uni and ducked into one such session. One of the dudes they had talking was hilarious so I wouldn't preclude the possibility that the orientations are actually even remotely enjoyable. Despite the structural change, the content was not dissimilar to what I remember from my orientation.

That being said, these orientations are also much shorter, as you can tell from this handy dandy guide for the coming semester https://cdn.auckland.ac.nz/assets/auckland/students/Information-for-new-students/Orientation-Programme-S2-2017-FINAL-WEB.pdf It is also the case that Auckland doesn't specifically need to worry about dorms etc. on account of their non-existence, with the, I assume similar, halls of residences being able to get things done on their own end for the subset of students who use them.

delagar said...

Harry East: Thanks for sending the .pdf -- that's very cool. Your orientation sessions look much more useful than ours. It looks like the faculty are there, and talk to the students?

Anonymous said...

My take is that uni's no longer trust students or parents to read the written (or on-line) material they're given about how everything works on campus. So orientation is sort of damage control. And protection from litigation.

delagar said...

Hah. You're probably right.

Harry East said...

I think it depends. The one I popped in on had a mix of older students, at least one faculty guy and the Arts Dean, but there are thousands of people on campus during orientation days (in semester one) and they use up quite a lot of lecture theatres so it's possible not all faculties get lecturers to come along. The campus tours are conducted by existing students, though.

A little mucking around with the Inside Word (a blog the university hosts where first years write about their experiences) yielded this Google Doc of orientation stuff covered in the Science faculty day: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UVhnAur_Qmx_mawbn99KDcUU1X9-4Z7t0jbk6qTbtZo/edit Looking at the powerpoint that may have been specifically for the biomed people (many of which want to do the MbChB after their first year, most which don't get in).

Oh, and just in case you see the 29% + = pass thing for NCEA, that's not really how it works at all... in NCEA external exams, a question is ranked out of eight, but the marks one gets from a question are tied to a set of criteria such that 23/24 (a three question paper) doesn't mean one has met 96% of the criteria. In fact, I would suggest that the equivalent of excellence at Auckland, in terms of the qualitative experience of obtaining such consistently, is equivalent to A and A+, even though their visual comparing GSM boundaries to the uni's standard mark ranges would have it more like A-.* I have wandered away from the point here but I can't help myself. I've written an entire blog post on this paragraph: http://toorightweare.blogspot.co.nz/2016/12/assessment-philosophy-ncea-vs-university.html

*NCEA is very insular such that one's performance in summative Assessment X has no bearing on how well one has to do on Assessment Y.

delagar said...

That orientation day looks useful!

What's NCEA? Your university system looks much more complex than ours -- though that may be just because I'm not familiar with it. :D

Harry East said...

NCEA is the assessment system used in most NZ secondary schools. It was referenced in the orientation powerpoint to help ease students into how assessment at university works, but the way they did this misrepresented what NCEA is... which is a criterion based assessment structure with three levels. Every assessment is essentially a single standard, which describes the criteria, and passing a standard gives one credits (eg 4) at one of three levels (A, M or E). Most candidates will have just enough credits (i.e. 80 in level one, and 60 in the other two) available prior to end of year exams to have passed without them, if they pass all standards. If one gets to 50 M or E credits, one gets the Level 1/2/3 certificate awarded with M or E.

For example, in a maths exam, there will be 3 questions which can all reach excellence, but Q1(a) likely just demonstrates the skills associated with criteria for Achieved, Q1(d) might be extend the candidate a bit more so Merit criteria are met and Q1(g) demonstrates E criteria... such that harder questions aren't just harder, they're actually doing different things. This does generalise so that "written subjects" like English or vocational subjects like hard materials all work within the same framework. Not all subjects are approved, though, which means only a subset of subjects count towards University Entrance.

The university system is I guess a bit complex due to all the different degrees. Entrance is determined based on whole-year performance in NCEA, CIE or IB... there are no analogues of the SAT/ACT nor application essays (except in specific cases, e.g. planning has an essay and architecture a portfolio). At the application stage, one selects a degree programme (of which there a lot, e.g. BA, BSc, BEng, BUrbPlan, BCom, BProp... and it goes on) and usually a major.

If you're then accepted* you just enrol in whatever papers you need to pass... which generally means either directly starting your major (a la BAs and BScs at Auckland) with some side papers, or a core first year programme (e.g. for Auckland there's the BCom... or the more rigid version used as "pre med" or the first year engineering papers). After this, you basically keep taking papers (about four a semester) until you graduate (typically in three years)... although some degrees are more structured than others. Generally eight or nine papers will constitute a major if enough are at stage III. There is no research project or anything at the end of the degree... unless you do honours, which, in NZ, is a intro-level postgrad option.

It gets a bit more complex if we then talk about conjoints which is concurrent study of two different degrees (e.g. BA/BCom or BCom/BSc) which takes "length of longest individual degree + 1" years to do, normally. It's not quite the same as a double degree because you don't need quite so many points altogether, which is why a BA/BCom takes 4 years not 6. However, to graduate in four years one needs to take at least 9 papers a year (vs 8) so Auckland makes the entry requirements a bit higher.

It's quite possible other universities do things a bit differently (I know Victoria talks about trimesters) but their websites confuse me. I know they basically use all the same grade boundaries though.

*This is not hard. Auckland uses a rank scores, which assigns numeric values to A, M and E credits and weights the best 80 credits. Basically if you have 80 credits and something stupidly low like 10 of those at merit, you meet the rank score for a BA & a few more again to do a BSc. You don't even have to worry about too many other people doing as well as you because they guarantee places if you meet a score. Certain majors and degree have higher scores, though.

delagar said...

That's very different from US universities -- and pretty cool!