In coming to this university, I was astounded at how little care was given to preparing incoming transfer students for life as a Ram.
Now, as my first semester here at the University of Rhode Island comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on my start here and the difficulties I faced as a transfer student. Unlike incoming freshman, who are required to attend an overnight orientation, new transfers like myself are treated with far less care.
The short orientation that the school puts together for those entering the college above the freshman level isn’t exactly a fountain of information. After a short speech about how important on-campus activities are based on graduation rates, incoming transfers were split into two basic groups.
One group was brought to speak with advisors, while the other killed time waiting their turn with a quick tour of campus. I use the term “tour” loosely, as it mainly consisted of a walk from the Fine Arts Center to the Memorial Union. Once both groups had finished speaking to our assigned advisors, we were cut loose to grab a free lunch.
Of course, finding a place to eat that lunch wasn’t as easy as it should have been. It quickly became apparent to me that if I was going to have any chance of finding my way around campus, then Google Maps would provide a more useful tool than the confusing map the college had provided.
However, a shoddy tour would quickly proved the least of my worries when it came to preparing myself for my time here. As I sat in class one fine morning, I was shocked to hear my professor asking us to hand in our assignment for the week. I had yet to miss a class, how could I not know that something had been assigned?
My professor, in an exasperated tone, informed me that if I wanted to know about the work I should have checked Sakai. All I could think at that moment was, “What the heck is Sakai?”
Not once before this had anyone mentioned any such thing to me. I was shocked. Don’t get me wrong, CCRI (where I had transferred from) had a similar web-based system known as Blackboard, but while the concept was familiar I was still at a loss and now already behind in my classes.
As soon as class was over, I jumped on my computer to log into Sakai. This quickly led me to more questions. For example, what was my password?
If not for a particularly helpful freshman in one of my classes, who had actually been told about the system at his orientation, I would have spent far longer than I care to admit seeking this seemingly basic information.
While I’ve come to enjoy my time here, there is little doubt in my mind that URI needs to take another look at just how they are preparing transfer students. The college may not be making as much money off of us as they do with four-year students, but that’s not a justification for leaving us so unprepared for our time here.