An orientation course for freshmen in engineering
To realize our mission as Academic Student Coordinators for engineering freshmen at Bilkent University, we offer an orientation course. This one credit required course can be seen as a tool to meet all students regularly and in a natural way, to get to know each other, to create an atmosphere which makes it easy for the students to contact us when they are confronted with serious problems. Along with these underlying objectives, the course aims to facilitate a smooth transition from high school to university by giving attention to general skills, study skills and communication skills. Workshops are offered on such issues as engineering in general, goal setting, time management, learning styles, test taking, stress management, critical thinking, strategies for effective and creative problem solving, and ethics. Attention is also given to practical issues such as various centers for academic and social support at Bilkent University and to campus and academic issues such as exam regulations and students' rights and responsibilities. The course has four graded elements: orientation days, seminars, class participation and the final exam. The orientation days cover a general orientation program at the very beginning of the semester. The seminars during the semester are offered by inspiring professionals, people successful in business, industry, the academic world or elsewhere. Class participation, the main element of the course, aims at having the students actively involved in in-class assignments working in groups of about 15 students. For the final exam the students write two essays: one about some campus oriented events in which they have participated; and another essay in which they write, in a clear given format, a reflection about themselves, evaluating their first semester at the Faculty of Engineering of Bilkent University. Throughout the semester the students are stimulated to be assertive, to be critical about themselves and about their environment, to think in terms of projects and problem based learning, to work both in small groups and alone. As the students write many different things, they have a personal portfolio at the end of the semester. All things considered, the course turns out to be an effective tool for our mission of coaching freshmen in engineering.