This summer, I have had the great pleasure to be picked to give a short orientation to incoming undergraduate students at the University of Michigan. My role, in their two day orientation session, is to give a 10 minute spiel on GSIs, graduate student instructors: who they are, what they do, what they’re good for, etc. What fun!
First, a digression: I love new students. Love them. In my family, the first day of school was more momentous than most major holidays. We always baked chocolate chip cookies and talked about the day on the first day of school. In fact, my husband is entering his 3rd year of medical school tomorrow and the fresh batch of cookies have just been pulled from the oven. It smells delightful in here. So, the first day of school is so very magical to me (oh gosh, do I wax poetic about that or what?!). When I taught Introduction to Global Change, every fall, I tried to always sign up for the very first sections of the week (Monday or Tuesday sections) so that when first year students took my course, I would be their FIRST introduction to college discussion sections. I could set that tone! Set their expectations high! Ah. I love that. So, when the Office of New Student Programs at UM emailed me about giving an orientation to incoming undergraduates, I was thrilled.
My little talk is preceded by an undergraduate and followed by a professor giving their thoughts on what it’s like to be a student, and the role of the professor. All three of our bits thematically cluster around advice for how to transition to college, become an adult, take charge and make the most of their short four years at this amazing institution. It’s a nice orientation session, and I think we emphasize well enough to the students that they’re adults and can make their own choices from now on. They are the ones deciding how to manage their time and what courses to take and what extracurricular activities to be involved in… They will have support in the form of RAs, academic advisors, professors, GSIs, and their peers, but ultimately they’re on their way to becoming independent adults! How exciting!