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Opening and New TA Orientation Notes (+onboarding new students)



Official folder where orientation + onboarding materials have been saved:

G:\AS\phy\#private\#Graduate Program (easchiff, msoderbe, pawhitmo, smcatter)\Opening & TA Orientation




                                                      NOTES FOR ONBOARDING INCOMING STUDENTS

New International graduate students will start arriving in early August. They have been advised to visit Slutzker Center asap, and then their home department. When they visit, I usually go over key facts to make sure they have the info they need. Then I give them a quick building tour: their 4th floor office, the main office, clinic, main teaching classrooms/stolkin, grad lounge, and mailboxes (etc.). I attached a first draft of what I would use for notes on check-in process here as a guide, edited from prior years with the new student info (many arrival dates and plans to take quals have not been confirmed this early so it is only a starting point to work from – see electronic file: .


**Students are advised to use as a guides and this site has already been updated for this year and set the incoming class. See email for details on what students were already told.





  • Add all incoming students to PHY-GRAD listserv in early Aug, and PHY-TA as needed (and remove graduates and update PHY-TA with all fall TAs)
  • Make sure all incoming students have PHY building access entered in through BOSS in early Aug
  • Need to meet with Yudaisy to discuss office and desk assignments, get keys, and make packet with Grad key + Mailbox key + desk key for each incoming student (plan to do this 1st or 2nd week in august to give Yudy time to make other desk rearrangements as needed to free up 4th floor desks)
  • Enter in new academic advisors + Mitch Soderberg advising access within MySlice, once Mitch has assigned them (probably 2nd-3rd week in Aug). Also enter in physics grad internal database if still being used.
  • Set TA Assignments with Prof. Catterall --- see class scheduling notes for more details. Important to get the TA assignment schedule out early so students have time to prepare --- esp. incoming students will be anxious to have the info before TA training + microteaching.
  • Incoming graduate students have already been entered into Patty W’s graduate records database. Many fields will need to be updated after new students arrive and more info is learned, if database will continue to be used.





**best resource if there are questions:

  • Prof. Soderberg (academic-related)
  • Prof. Souder (qual exam-specific)


  • EVERY incoming student must take comps, regardless of whether or not they are taking the quals.
  • Incoming students have the OPTION to also sign up to attempt quals, but it is not required. See email for notes sent to the students, to this end:
  • Faculty discuss scores in the Weds faculty meeting, a couple days after the exam to determine pass/fail. Letters are produced by dept staff to inform students of results.
    • FOR THOSE WHO PASS QUALS ONLY --- IF a student passes, copies of letters must be sent to graduate school (304 lyman, Kristina Ashley) to record the milestone in their student record.
    • If a student does not pass, just keep copies of letters in their department academic files.
    • Record score results for both exams in grad student database, potentially alumni database if the department still plans to collect that data all in one master sheet.
    • Keep copies of all comp, qual result exam letters in students’ academic folders. There is a hanging file in my office (left side of chair, top drawer) where recent qual/comp exams and scores have been stored if you want to add to it.
    • Sample past exams to share with student, mail-merge templates for pass/fail letters, etc. can be found here: G:\AS\phy\#private\#Graduate Program (easchiff, msoderbe, pawhitmo, smcatter)\Opening & TA Orientation\Qual,Comp Exams







**best resource if there are questions: Profs. Catterall & Soderberg


Current status of Orientation schedule for Fall 2018—see document in notes folder:          


  • Notes in red are planning notes and should be deleted before printing and sharing official schedule.
    • Once all events are set, this schedule is to be shared with whole dept so everyone knows their roles and everyone is invited to breakfast.


  • Need to get faculty and/or student volunteers to help with parts highlighted in yellow still (probably best to solicit only 2-3 weeks before when people know their schedules, etc.)
    • Current names listed/highlight were last years’ participants and volunteers
    • Don’t forget to get student and faculty volunteers for adventure course (everyone who attends needs to sign waivers)
      • We have reserved spots for 18 students (we have 11 incoming, so 7 returning students can be invited to join) and 6 faculty/staff. Roster needs to be confirmed to adventure course week before, and waivers need to be collected by morning of event
      • Plan food for orientation activities each day with Yudaisy (plan to do this ~ 2nd week in august)
      • Make sure faculty and/or students from each research area will be present for poster session
        • Solicit faculty to remind them (or work with associate chair if he prefers ask faculty) approx. 2nd week in Aug
        • Make sure poster board, alligator clips, and easels are available for faculty use the day before the poster session. We have small dept set, IGERT lets us borrow 8-10 large ones as well usually. SBI has also allowed us to borrow some in past as needed.
        • NEED to adjust the “Patty Whitmore” portion of events on 8/21/18. I’ve generally use this time to quickly go over the following -- Remove or adjust as needed to accommodate new dept plan.
          • TA policies – go over important points for TA’ing from dept rules packet in general, tell them to carefully read through it in more detail on their own time and come back to me with questions (Prof. Catterall may be able to take the lead?)
          • Same for clinic rules – briefly point out important points of official dept rules and tell them to read through thoroughly on own time (Prof. Vidali may be able to take lead?)
          • I included an electronic copy of a page I always distribute to new TAs, summarizing important pointers from both official documents and giving them info on what to do/who to contact if they need to miss a class or clinic hour. Will need to be adjusted**
          • I always have previously given them a brief rundown of notes on how to register for classes (how to do it in Myslice – ask if they have questions and help as needed),  which classes they should generally register for (PHY 581, 621, 661) and how to adjust their schedules per their academic advisor’s request after results of comprehensive exam are known
          • Give notes on what to wear to adventure course, collect signed waivers from everyone who still hasn’t turned them in, and make sure everyone has rides to/from the event as needed (or knows where to find bus schedule)
          • Give them packets with keys to desk, mailbox, and grad student key (which opens classrooms & 4th floor office space, and copy room). Then brief tour of building to show them their office space and mailbox locations so they can test out keys. Make sure keys work --- ask them to report any problems and address with Yudy and/or Lou buda as needed.


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