August 02, 2017

By Elizabeth Abrams, Merrill College Provost and Chair of the Council of Provosts 

Every summer, incoming frosh and transfer students meet with college and departmental advising staff to plan their schedules, learn about different majors, plan out General Education requirements, and more.

Meanwhile, parents and families huddle with residential life staff and college provosts to learn how they can support their new UCSC students through the transition to college and independent life. While Res Life staff focus on issues like planning for move-in, FERPA regulations governing student privacy, the importance of the first six weeks in setting students’ study and college immersion patterns, and how to establish and maintain harmonious roommate relationships, provosts focus on students’ academic lives.

Topics provosts commonly cover in sessions with parents and families:

  • What is a provost? What is a college? What is the academic mission of the college?
  • What is Core? Critical thinking, reading, and writing within the context of the college ethos
  • College curricula: how the colleges contribute to a liberal arts education
  • College-based advising: how students can make use of advising expertise
  • Student success: encouraging students’ flexibility in enrolling in classes (“Did you know that 8 AM is a time of day?”) and creating paths to several possible majors
  • Tips on cultivating a useful communication strategy: asking questions that unlock useful information (“Do you have regular study hours?” vs. “Are you studying?” “Are you writing drafts of your papers?”); warning signs to watch out for

Some colleges also provide “back-to-school” receptions that, for instance, bring college alumni and incoming students together.

While summer orientation just skims the top off of what students and their families will learn in the months to come, the chance for advisors and provosts to meet with students and families smooths the transition to university for sometimes anxious, and always excited students and families.

August 2017 Newsletter