Tales from induction week

Posted by September Blue Friday, 19 September 2008

From the assortment of administrators, librarians, technicians and minions who made up the welcome wagon. For the first five days of semester, we ran a general information desk that served as first point of call for all inquiries.

- An eighteen-year-old boy, looking perpetually lost, came wandering over at least once a day. The last thing he asked was "Where can I get something to make my bed look nice?"

- Parents: "Is there any way we can find out how [son] is doing in his exams and so on if he won't tell us himself?"

- At least four new students came to ask why they hadn't been told about the introductory sessions for their classes, only to find out that the system had them down as 'No current course of study'. Ah. Well. That's a problem. But Registry once entirely forgot about one department's entire year group of incoming PhD students, so I'm not jumping to student-blaming conclusions on this one.

- Parent: "Does she have to buy the books for all her essays?"
Minion: "Er, she can. The department will give her a list of required reading and recommended reading for whatever course she's -"
Parent: "And the recommended ones, will she have to buy those?"
Minion: "She'll have to read them. She can buy them if she wants. Some copies will be in the library."
Parent: "And will she be told which ones are in the library?"
Minion: "She'll get her reading list on Thursday. She can check it against the library catalogue if she wants to know which books are in there. It depends on what course she's doing."
Parent: "English."
Minion: "...right. She should buy the core books. And the recommended reading, that'll be stuff that might be useful for her work, so she can read it if -"
Parent: "When will she know if it's useful?"
Minion looks at Student. Student looks at feet.

- It's a lot easier to answer 'When do I get my personalised timetable?' when you have a large stack of completely blank timetables next to you. Personalise away! You can even doodle in the margins.

- Parents: "Are we allowed to go to the Residences talks as well, or is that just for them?" I don't know. Do you plan to be living there?

- One woman asked whether she had to go to 'all those lectures' for her classes, complained that the university had not yet made lectures available via podcast, and then asked if there was a limit to how many of her course credits she could 'use up' on learning strategies and writing skills half-credit modules as replacements for the core modules for her degree.

- One set of parents came boiling over with fury about The State Of His Room, meaning their son's perfectly average room in the university residences. "It's tiny!" and "There's hardly any furniture, just a bed and a desk with a chair and some shelves and things!" and "It's not clear which cupboard in the kitchen is his!", and on. The student didn't seem that bothered.

- About three hundred newly arrived students couldn't get their personal computers hooked up to the university network (complaints logged under 'The Internet doesn't work'). About two hundred and eighty of these turned out to need an ethernet cable. My answer to "But, isn't it wireless?" went from an explanation of the effects of multiple breezeblock walls on wireless signals (day 1) to pointing out that with the size of their rooms, there wasn't anywhere an ethernet cable wouldn't reach anyway (day 5).

- Parents, third day of semester: "So she's in this talk now. What are we supposed to be doing?" Getting a coffee? Going home?

- Student with handwritten timetable, concerned that he had a lecture clash. Checking his against the central teaching timetable revealed that one of his 'lectures' was a lab practical with several different timeslots. "See, when you got that one off the timetable -" "No, my dad did my timetable for me."


  1. undine Says:
  2. If you were giving a prize for the most annoying of these, it might just be that woman wanting to avoid "all those lectures" and "use up" credits. Translation: "How can I completely avoid anything having to do with learning anything or the life of the mind? You mean I can't?"

  3. Laz Says:
  4. Am I alone in being truly terrified that these blathering idiots are the future leaders of our country...?

  5. Undine - indeed. It wasn't even as if there was a particular class she was dreading and hoping to get out of, either; she just thought the half-credit modules would be, in her words, 'less hassle'. I wish the staff in that department luck.

    Laz - it's sooner than you think! David Cameron got his first job after his uncle phoned up the interviewers and persuaded them to give him a chance.

  6. Autumn Song Says:
  7. AAaaaaaahhh! to both the lecture and class dodging student and to the David Cameron story.