One substantial benefit to being a student in The Honors College is participating in our comprehensive orientation program. Through this program, honors students learn many of the skills that will make them successful students and developing scholars at UAlbany. It also provides the initial opportunity for honors students to begin forming a community with their roommates, suitemates, and hallmates in honors housing.
Our comprehensive orientation program is made up of six components, each of which is designed to teach specific skills while providing honors students the opportunity to get to know each other. None are required, but all are offered to all honors students - including commuter honors students.
Summer Planning Conferences
Special programs for honors students and their parents are held at four of the two-day Summer Planning Conferences that are held each summer at UAlbany for incoming freshmen and their parents. Incoming honors freshmen are housed together during these Summer Planning Conferences, giving them the opportunity to start making friends with other honors students. At the end of the first day of each conference, Professor Haugaard hosts a reception for the parents of the honors students and holds a question-and-answer session. This gives parents a chance to get to know each other and helps to relieve their anxiety - all questions will be answered!
Incoming honors students move into their residence halls two days before other first-year students arrive on campus. Students are assigned to orientation groups, with each group led by a third-year honors student (a Person of Extraordinary Talent (POET)). POETs help the new honors students learn about UAlbany and The Honors College, and many POETs have ongoing contact with the honors students in their group throughout the academic year.
After students move into their residence halls the first day, and parents and students attend the inaugural honors lecture, delivered by the Professor Haugaard, in the afternoon. The orientation groups gather for the first time after the lecture and each has the opportunity to earn “bonus points” by correctly answering a question about the person for whom their group has been named (all groups are named after US citizens who are Nobel Peace Prize recipients). (Bonus points are handed out willy-nilly throughout the first two days of orientation.) Students and parents have dinner together and parents leave at 8:00PM. Each orientation group meets with their POET for “ice breaker” activities during the evening.
The second day involves a series of activities designed to introduce the new honors students to each other, to the UAlbany campus, and the the city of Albany. During a scavenger hunt in the morning, groups are given pictures of locations around campus and a hint to help them identify each place. They then wander around campus looking for these places. POETs are stationed at each location and each has a question about the UAlbany campus (more bonus points) and some have snacks. After lunch, groups rotate through three activities: a low-ropes course, a session on using technology at UAlbany, and a session with Professor Haugaard. Students eat dinner with their suitemates and are on their own after dinner.
The third day involves two activities, led by the POETs, that students can join on their own or in small groups: a bus tour of Albany and a walking tour of the Academic Podium (where the classrooms are located).
At the encouragement of the POETs in 2012, we added a fourth day of optional activities. They included a walk around campus and a shopping center near campus, with coffee at Uncommon Grounds, and some contest involving nerf guns and zombies and lots of running around campus.
Organizing Your Life - Working Hard
During the first few weeks of the fall semester, Professor Haugaard meets with the honors students on each floor of the honors residence halls to describe the value of using of semester and weekly calendars to keep organized and the value of using flash cards (his own patented system) to excel in courses.
A One-credit Course During the Fall Semester: Introduction to University Life
Professor Haugaard teaches a one-credit honors course for all incoming honors students during the first half of the fall semester. The goals of the course are to help students understand more clearly the university environment and to help them begin to develop the library and writing skills they will use to excel in their courses.
Each class session involves a short lecture Professor Haugaard or Jean McLaughlin, the Honors Librarian. The topics of these lectures include (a) an introduction to the library, (b) the structure of the university, (c) appreciating individual differences, (d) academic integrity, and (e) writing college papers. Students work individually with Ms. McLaughlin to create a paper outline on a topic of their choice and identify and evaluate several sources for writing the paper.
A One-credit Course During the Spring Semester: Introduction to Honors Research
Professor Haugaard teaches a one-credit honors course for all first-year honors student during the second half of the spring semester that focuses on honors research. Many first-year honors students are anxious about participating in research and writing a senior thesis. Most have not participated in research and many have inaccurate beliefs about the honors thesis (e.g., it has to be at least 150 pages long). The goals of this course are to help students understand the types of research and scholarly work done by scholars in various disciplines and how a thesis is conceptualized and written. Each session involves a short lecture on a topic related to honors research (e.g., using human subjects). After the lecture, three graduating honors seniors present their theses (about 20 minutes each). Each student spends some time talking about the process he or she went through - from identifying a topic to writing their thesis - and then presents the results of his or her thesis.
A One-credit Course for Sophomores
Professor Haugaard teaches a one-credit course for sophomores during the fall semester that focuses on careers and families. Ten speakers come to the class to describe their lives and careers, and the, sometimes unusual, experiences that have helped to create who they are today. Speakers have come from the fields of medicine, social welfare, business, politics, and religion. Students write a brief life plan at the beginning of the course and a revised life plan after listening to the speakers.