Graduate students sample the frosh life

First-ever orientation fair catered to grad students’ needs

Graduate students explore the information booths at the first-ever graduate student orientation on Sept. 2.
Graduate students explore the information booths at the first-ever graduate student orientation on Sept. 2.

Graduate students got their own taste of Frosh Week when the School of Graduate Studies and Research (SGSR) held its first ever graduate student orientation session on Sept. 2.

Jeff Welsh, PhD ’09 and president of the Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), said the open event was held to provide non-academic support to graduate students.

“It wasn’t mandatory. It was an open resource fair,” he said. “There were a number of tables. People could take literature and ask questions and there were campus tours. Campus tours were definitely very popular.” The 22 booths at the fair included information from SGPS, SGSR, Student Affairs, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Information Technology Services, libraries, the Human Rights Office, the International Centre, Health Counseling and Disability Services, the Ban Righ Centre and Athletics and Recreation.

Welsh said the idea to hold a graduate orientation event came when the SGPS, SGSR and Student Affairs formed two working groups in April 2008 to look at graduate student life.

“The working group on graduate student life looks purely at non-academic issues. The initial meetings were late in the winter term and, in the first couple of meetings, we looked at survey results from the SGPS and Student Affairs,” he said. “After looking at the survey results, we realized there was an informational gap. One idea put forward was having a general orientation which would include a resource fair.” Welsh said the second working group concentrated on providing academic support for graduate students and has linked together departmental programs for graduate students.

“The working group on academic support for graduate students essentially tied together services or course offerings tailored to students by departments,” he said. “We worked out a communication strategy to make sure all the different departments know what the others are doing.”

Welsh said incoming graduate students receive a departmental orientation, but get little to no information about on-campus resources.

“All new grad students have a session where they meet generally with a graduate co-ordinator in their department,” he said. “They provide information they need to know within the department … deciding things like what courses to pick. This doesn’t provide general information on campus life and student life.”

Shelley Aylesworth-Spink, director of the School of Graduate Studies said a three-question survey was distributed to students who attended the event to provide feedback.

“We asked why students attended the event,” she said. “About 30 per cent said it was to meet other graduate students, about 20 per cent said it was to see services on-campus and 16 per cent said it was for the campus tour.”

When asked whether the event met their expectations, Aylesworth-Spink said more than 88 per cent of graduate students said it met or exceeded their expectations.

The last question on the survey was what other type of social events graduate students would like to see, Aylesworth-Spink said.

“Thirty-six per cent said they wanted more opportunities to have recreational sports and 28 per cent said they wanted more events in Kingston.”

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