50 UCD faculty members, including 16 in the CAES, ran a 3-day seminar series from September 25-27 as part of Aggie Orientation, welcoming new first-year and transfer students and providing them with critical information and skills for “Aggie Success” particularly in a COVID era. Each seminar was supported by two UCD undergraduate Aggie Success Assistants who offered their perspectives on life as an undergraduate while providing technical assistance to the faculty presenters.
”This is not the way our students ever imagined going off to college,” said Ed Taylor, a Distinguished Professor in Agricultural and Resource Economics, who led a seminar series for around 250 entering first-year students. “The excitement of coming to campus, meeting people, interacting on so many levels—that’s what people dream of. NOT having an online orientation."
Though some first-year and transfer students are living on campus in residence halls (with COVID measures), most are living off-campus, around the state, U.S., or globe. This means that with a few exceptions, the students’ first courses and interactions with our faculty and students are going to be online.
Taylor continued saying, “To me, the most important thing about the 3-day seminar was showing our incoming class that they are NOT isolated and alone. Everyone in the Aggie family is connected, concerned, and there for them, with great technologies that can make this possible until campus opens up. Above all, if something is on their mind, they are worried, stressed, not sure what to do, other people are almost certainly dealing with those things, too. I urged my students to share their concerns, talk to each other and to us, and get help when they need it—and told them how to do that."
A committee of 13 trained faculty in strategies to conduct the seminars and even provided them with a Google slide deck they could tailor to their needs.
“I absolutely could not have done this without them,” Taylor said.
Day 1 of the seminars provided students with insights about how to transition to UC Davis, how to decipher course syllabi, and tips on time management. Day 2 covered study approaches, learning and testing, and academic integrity. Day 3’s topics were how to communicate effectively with professors and TAs, the importance of maintaining a “growth mindset,” and information about where to get help.