Many of our new students coming to us from around the country often have the same questions as anyone starting a graduate program. Being nervous, even harboring a bit skepticism, is completely natural especially when embarking on something as life-changing as a graduate degree.
At Saybrook, we certainly recognize that because our institution is largely virtual in nature, there are other layers of questions, including “what exactly is this Residential Orientation and Conference? What happens during these events?”
Given this is one of our signature events for new and continuing students, I thought a short overview might be helpful. Let me know your thoughts and for faculty/staff and current students, if I missed anything, let me know in the comments section. Make sure to follow us using the hashtag #SaybrookRC whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIN.
The RO/RC is a kick-off event for our academic programs and much more. You might have heard the term “hybrid”. This refers to the way your curriculum may be delivered. In most of our programs, the RO/RC is designed to accomplish a few goals: Build community (activities including meals, social events, and community-wide symposiums); begin classes (many program faculty will kick-off coursework during the RC); and explore areas of interest that complement or are even outside one’s program (yoga, drumming, the dream table, open sessions by program).
The Residential Orientation (specifically the College of Social Sciences) is about getting to know your faculty, your fellow learners, and learn more deeply about Saybrook University. Day 1 (usually a Thursday) kicks off with introductions to your program faculty. Generally, we begin the morning with introductions of faculty and staff members followed by meeting each of you. We like to learn where you’re from, how you found us, and what your hopes are for the program you’re entering. The rest of the morning we cover key university concepts such as the ideas informing humanistic philosophy. We break for lunch (which we encourage you to join so as to network with each other). The remainder of the day is spent with your program colleagues and faculty, learning about the expectations for graduate study, more get-to-know you exercises, and the like.
Day two includes orientations to various services, including student affairs, online support, etc. We encourage to also work with our on-site staff such as student advising, financial aid and the registrar who can assist you.
Saturday is “the” day when the official conference begins. On Friday, many of our faculty and current students start settling in for the conference which begins officially on Saturday morning. Some key things to remember beginning Saturday and throughout the rest of the conference:
Review your program and highlight key sessions that interest you.
Take time to experience the evening events. Highlights include a university-wide documentary screening on Monday night; community town halls, yoga (each morning), and much more! We encourage you to take part in as much as your schedule and program allows.
The front desk is your friend. Located in the Conference Center, our team along with partners from Management Resource Group, are there to offer support to students, faculty, and staff. If you’re lost or confused, they’re here to help. We’ll get you where you need to go!
Coffee and tea. Every meal has coffee and tea available. We encourage you to fuel up during these meals. If you require additional coffee, please make sure to use what’s in your room or there is a coffee shop located in the main lobby.
What happens after the RC? Once we wrap up on Wednesday/Thursday, it’s time to head home. The learning continues online for students who have attended. Our goal with the RC is to create that bond to sustain you through the semester, creating the opportunity to both engage and carry the learning forward into your studies.
Virtual communities are like RCs only online. A couple of our programs have engaged in innovative delivery of the curriculum. For these programs, students are part of a virtual community or hub in which they take part in community-building and learning across the semester. For these students, we like to hear about your experiences and hope to hear more about the benefits of this model in your graduate journey.