Orientation – Often More Than a Small Step
Orientation is often more than just a small step – it is often a giant leap if the truth be known. For undergraduate students, it is often a huge jump from school days. There is considerably more freedom and a degree of self-responsibility. For postgraduate students the jump is usually not as demanding – in that they have already completed an undergraduate degree – but they still have to familiarise themselves with a new (and often different) environment.
The secret element is to participate from the outset, follow up on the reading associated, and action the suggestions as much as possible – this usually leads to a good start.
Most orientation sessions are divided into two distinct elements – a general session followed by a course-specific session. My own institution is no different.
General Orientation Sessions
Most sessions – especially if the organisation has multiple locations – are geographic specific such as Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide for example. My own institution has three States to cover and this is reflected in the content and approach.
Content usually includes –
- Some form of welcome message from the senior level;
- An introduction to the institution;
- Information on living in Australia (highly pertinent for international students);
- Campus specific information;
- Facilities and Resources available;
- Support services available – including learning support;
- Skills development opportunities;
- Procedures that need to be adhered to – including health and safety;
- Compliance matters;
- Policies – explanation and access;
- Social Media opportunities.
Though not exhaustive this does give a flavour of what is usually covered in these more general orientation-type sessions.
Course Specific Sessions
These sessions tend to zero in on the actual course details – whether undergraduate or postgraduate – providing some detail on the course shape, content and requirements.
Topics often include –
- Why study a specific award;
- About the institution;
- Course overview;
- Duration of study;
- Subject outlines;
- Majors (if any) available;
- Support services;
- Student Statistics and Student Satisfaction data (including testimonials);
- Course Credit;
- Course Brochures.
Again, the list is not exhaustive, but typical of what is usually included.
Orientation serves as an excellent way of getting an early understanding of the course chosen and what are the essential elements and demands of that course. The better informed a student is from the start - the more likely they are to succeed.
Other useful readings in and around orientation and getting started include –
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (UBSS) and Chief Executive Officer (GCA)