Freshman Orientation: Good, But Is It Enough?
Freshman Orientation: Good, But Is It Enough?
  • Reporter Kim Eun-ji
  • 승인 2010.03.03 23:40
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Not too long after their acceptance into POSTECH and celebration of high school graduation for some, newcomers from all around Korea flocked to their future living spaces in Pohang. The Freshmen Orientation which was held late February before the semester starts in March included immersion activities to help students escape the perils of undergraduate life from the beginning. All universities have orientations in their respective style and format but are the programs prepared for the new Postechians good enough for them to adapt to a chaotic campus life compared to other universities?

A mix of freshmen in groups

Matriculating students in other Korean universities usually participate in orientation according to their majors or colleges. POSTECH, which admits roughly 300 students per year, has a unique class system in order to provide opportunities to socialize with fellow students outside one’s own major. Based on the newcomer’s profile, 15 classes are created with a balanced number based on sex, major, residential district and the type of high school they are from. Throughout the activity-filled orientation, freshmen move around and complete programs in these groups, which facilitates students coming closer by the end of the orientation.

But the start of campus life is not only new to Korean newcomers. An additional type of introductory program that exists in Caltech and SNU is the international student orientation organized by the international student office. This aims to introduce the school’s academic programs and allows cultural assimilation of foreign students overwhelmed with their new environment. In MIT, there is even a parent orientation to give a glimpse of what their child will experience.

More than a week long of mosaic of events

The incoming students pass through consecutive days of introductions of various subjects, forming a rudimentary understanding of the campus. They tour around the campus, student clubs and associations, learn about POSTECH’s computer environment, the library, fire drills and dormitory policies and are given information about student support services. All go through the English placement test judging their writing and speaking capabilities. This is now an inevitable process after the declaration of a bilingual campus from 2010.

Fortunately, the overload of information does not go on all day. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality tests are provided free-of-charge to investigate one’s aptitude and nurture it in the future. Newcomers also have social get-togethers with upperclassmen and they themselves become bonded. The last two days cover volunteer work at local community centers, which are the rewarding moments of the POSTECH undergraduate orientation.

The pre-orientation programs

Unlike other universities, interesting courses are available at MIT named the Freshmen Pre-Orientation Programs (FPOPs) and Interphase. FPOPs are offered right before the orientation, with over 20 programs with different focuses, such as science and technology, history, literature, arts, outward activities and many more. Participation is optional but the programs of lab tours, special lectures from professors, group activities and discussions allow students to become familiar with the school and their area of interest. Interphase is a seven-week academic course on calculus, chemistry, physics, study skills, and writing. This is prepared particularly to promote successful settlement of underrepresented and underserved students pursuing science and engineering careers.

In POSTECH, future-freshmen can take chemistry and math remedial courses for several weeks if they feel that they need stronger foundation before the first year starts. These started in 2009 for the chemistry and only this year for the math course and require firm establishment for the benefit of incoming students who have contrasting knowledge bases.