By Kathleen J. Sullivan
New graduate students who recently completed a two-hour workshop, “American Football 101,” will be able to put their newfound knowledge to good use on Saturday when the Cardinal football team takes on the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium.
The workshop – covering included exercises – is one of more than two dozen events scheduled during this week’s New Graduate Student Orientation (NGSO), which introduces incoming graduate students to the vast network of academic resources , professional, health, sports, social and recreational. available at the Farm.
Ken Hsu, director of the Graduate Life Office, said the football workshop, which Stanford Athletics videotaped in 2016, is a popular event, especially among international students.
Library tours also appeal to students who are about to begin master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs at the Farm. This week librarians will discuss the collections of the Terman Engineering Library, Bowes Art & Architecture Library, Music Library and Green Library and the wonderful technology of the David Rumsey Map Center.
This year, 2,675 new graduate students are joining the Stanford community. Nearly 40% of them are international students, with China taking the lion’s share, followed by India, South Korea and Canada. The Bechtel International Center at Stanford is offering a two-week orientation—September 11-25—for international students, focused on their specialized needs, such as maintaining their legal status in the United States.
Nearly half of new Stanford graduate students — about 47% — are enrolled in master’s degree programs. Twenty-seven percent are enrolled in doctoral programs and 27% are pursuing professional studies in business, law and medicine.
In addition to NGSO, which is open to graduate students from across the university, new graduate students are warmly welcomed into their degree programs.
“These seven days of NGSO are designed to help graduate students get excited about campus life and to help them make connections – with people, places and resources – across campus,” said Hsu. “This week, they will begin to discover and explore within their academic programs, as well as the rich array of personal, social and professional development opportunities and programs offered on campus.”
Hsu pointed out that the most important orientations for new graduate students are the events organized by their programs, where they will meet their cohorts and learn everything they need to know about meeting their degree requirements.
“Someone who gets a doctorate in linguistics will have a very different program orientation than someone who gets a doctorate in public policy,” he said, noting that Stanford offers about 200 degree programs in the seven schools.
One of the annual highlights of the NGSO program is the President’s Reception hosted by Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and his wife, Mary Hynes, Associate Professor (Research) of Biology, in the gardens of Hoover House.
During the week, new graduating students will pass by White Plaza to check in their bikes. They will visit the Stanford Recycling Center on the east side of campus for a behind-the-scenes look at how Stanford recycles and composts 64% of campus waste – a new event this year.
They will eat free lunches and stroll through an activity fair showcasing helpful student organizations and administrative and student affairs offices. They will be encouraged to look beyond their department, their school, their culture to make friends during another new event, “Breaking Bubbles and Shaking Misconceptions”.
They will get “insider” information about campus life from a panel of current graduate students. They will learn to use the Graduate Professional Development Framework, an interactive tool designed to help graduate students connect their interests and goals to Stanford’s abundant resources and learning opportunities. They will discover the many resources and experiences offered by the Office of the Vice-Rector, Graduate Studies.
“Over the past decade, Stanford has been recognized nationally for developing innovative educational resources and community-building experiences that complement specialized knowledge and training in their curriculum,” said Patricia J. Gumport, vice provost for higher education and professor of education. .
“Our mindset is to expand what is possible in higher education, which aligns with and further strengthens Stanford’s interdisciplinary culture by encouraging graduate students to pursue ideas and develop connections between departments and schools.
The Graduate Life Office relied on three doctoral students – Doreen Chan, chemistry; Shabnam Semnani, structural engineering and geomechanics; and Karthik Rajkumar, Economics – to bring this year’s NGSO program to life. Together they brainstormed ideas, chose a theme – “Discover and Explore” – contacted campus partners, scheduled more than two dozen events, designed a brochure and ordered t-shirts.
“The most fun part was chatting and planning events with people on campus, hearing their ideas and contributing my own – and knowing that I would be able to make a difference by welcoming new graduate students,” Chan said.
Semnani is particularly excited about the Saturday brunch for couples and families – another new event this year.
“Most NGSO events are for new graduate students only,” Semnani said. “We created this welcome event for couples and families to meet and gain information about some of the campus resources available to partners, spouses and families of graduate students.”
Rajkumar, who started doing research full-time this summer after two years of classes, enjoyed taking a break from his research to help plan NGSO.
“The two things really complement each other,” Rajkumar said. “The more welcoming Stanford is as a new home and community for students, the more productive we will be.”