Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Orientation Speech

This summer, I'll present a 5-7 minute orientation speech for incoming first-year students to SJSU. I'll deliver the speech at ten separate orientation events, so I want to get it right.

Here's a draft:

[Slide 1: splash slide]

On the road toward graduation

[Slide 2: Congratulations]

First let me say a few words to the parents out there, preparing to send your daughter or son off to college. Congratulations.

No doubt, it's been a long road just to get here.

And now these college students prepare to get behind the wheel.

That's the easy part.

[Slide 3: Cloverleaf]

But if you believe that life is a highway -- filled with strange twists and distant horizons, glittering cities and greasy spoons -- you want to know: how can this trip be a success?

To you new Spartans: Imagine your college years as one awesome road trip. To get where you want to go, I offer these three tips: Prepare for your journey, get a navigator, and always take the high road.

[Slide 4: Plan your journey - car on road]

Prepare for your journey

That starts with a trip to the gas station. Fuel up and grab some maps.

For maps, start with the university catalog. It's got information you'll need to get around and graduate on time. You can learn about the various departments and degree paths, and double-check that you understand the rules of the road.

[Slide 5: Plan your journey - map]

And it even includes a handy map of the campus. It won't fit in your glove compartment, but it's good to have along in case you get lost.

And here's a travel tip: Read the syllabi you get in the beginning of each class. They'll tell you how to succeed. And they should include a calendar to help you plan your itinerary.

[Slide 6: Plan your journey - Water for Elephants]

As for the treat, I recommend a book called Water for Elephants. Read it, and you'll visit a world you've probably never seen before. It's part of our Campus Reading Program - and you're getting a copy as part this orientation.

So now that you're prepared for the journey…

[Slide 7: Get a Navigator - MUSE class bullet points]

Get a navigator

It's a fact: even the most experienced travelers can get lost.

For expert navigation help I recommend that you start with a MUSE class.

MUSE stands for Metropolitan University Scholar's Experience, and these classes are really cool. They're small -- no more than 18 students. They're designed to help you make sense of university life. And each has a unique topic, such as:

"The Simpsons as Social Science: Exploring Faith, Philosophy, and Ethics with American's Favorite Cartoon Family." [topic can be switched]

[Slide 8: Get a Navigator - Peer Mentors]

Best of all: many MUSE classes include Peer Mentors.

Peer Mentors are experienced navigators, expert in time management, study skills, and university resources. Like I said, they can be found in MUSE classes. But they're also waiting to offer roadside assistance in the Academic Success Center, every day and Tuesday nights. Just drop in. No appointment needed.

Other ways to navigate your way through SJSU include:

[Slide 9: Get a Navigator - Honors Humanities bullet points]

The Honor's Humanities Program:

This is a four-semester sequence of courses that offer a rigorous and thought-provoking intersection of art, literature, philosophy and social institutions.

There are 100 students in the lecture and twenty-five in each seminar. The seminar groups rotate from teacher to teacher at each semester, allowing you to stay with the same group of students for both years.

[Slide 10: Get a Navigator - American Studies bullet points]

The American Studies Program:

Similar to Humanities Honors, but only a 1-year sequence, each semester you take a lecture and a seminar, for a total of six units.

The course looks at American culture and combines approaches and insights from several disciplines.

[Slide 11: Get a Navigator - Science 2 bullet points]

Science 2:

This program meets Area E GE requirement with a large lecture and small activity groups. You'll work with a peer advisor every week, and are part of a four-person Success Team. This class is ideal for Science and Engineering majors, but everyone is welcome.

[Slide 12: Get a Navigator - Students with faculty in regalia]

Oh yeah, here's one more navigation tip: talk to your teachers.

We'll always be there to help you navigate your way to academic success.

Now that you're cruisin'…

[Slide 13: Take the High Road - Hopper's Western Motel painting]

Take the high road

That means maintaining the highest personal standards.

Come to each class -- even those you'd rather not take -- and work to get the most out of them. While you're at it: give your best efforts toward them.

Taking the high road also refers to our university's culture of academic integrity.

Let's face it: Sometimes on this long journey you might be tempted to cut corners. You might even presume that the fastest way from point A to point B is simply a matter of copying and pasting from some Wikipedia site. But plagiarism is really a fast way from point A to point F. I'm a professor - I know.

[Slide 14: Take the High Road - Cadillac Ranch]

This being California, I should emphasize what I do *not* mean when I say, "take the high road." After all, I'm talking about *road* tripping - not road *tripping*. Avoid substances that impair your ability to get where you want to go.

[Slide 15: Sunset over highway]

A final thought from one road-tripper to another.

Once in a while, your car will break down. But even if you're stranded in some desert somewhere, that's no reason to believe you'll fail to reach your destination.

So prepare for your journey, get a navigator, and always take the high road.

After all…*You're* in the driver's seat now.

[Slide 16: splash slide]

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