Students beginning graduate studies for the first time are facing a number of significant transitions in their lives. Students are often moving to a new location — stepping away from their home or immediate family support networks, given a new level of financial independence and responsibility, and often navigating a very different cultural surrounding. Helping them manage this transition can be critical to success for many students. Facilitating this by asking students to arrive a few weeks or months before the beginning of the semester provides time to find optimal housing, receive an introduction to the local physics community, gain a first understanding of the graduate culture, and undergo assessment to help place them in appropriate courses.
- Anticipate student difficulties in practical aspects of moving, locating housing, establishing a bank account, and navigating transportation issues.
- Review expectations, time management, goal setting, outline course sequence and challenges.
- If possible, have incoming students take at least one course together.
- Hold an orientation program that includes ice-breakers, informational sessions, group picture, building tour, and introduction of research areas. Incorporate students into the departmental graduate student orientation.
- Host social activities such as a welcome dinner, ice cream social, or monthly lunches.
- If graduate students are only allowed to a take a certain number of undergraduate courses, create special topics sections that are cross-listed with the undergraduate course needed. (e.g. at University of South Florida, Bridge to Quantum Mechanics is a grad course that is cross-listed with undergrad Quantum Mechanics.)