Fall 2016 Connections Info
Connections is an academic course specifically designed to ease your transition to Utah State and to prepare you for your college experience. Higher education is a huge investment. This unique course focuses on helping you go about your USU education intentionally--using resources, taking advantage of opportunities to develop socially, and selecting courses that will help build character as well as employability. Connections allows you to develop a support network of classmates, faculty, and staff to help ensure a successful beginning to your academic experience. It will teach you everything you need to know about becoming an Aggie!
Each instructor is able to customize the class, but each Connections section includes the following:
- Purpose of a College Education: Why are you here in the first place? You will discuss why college is structured the way it is, and how can you get the most out of that structure.
- Common Literature: Over the summer, you'll read the same book as all the other Connections students, and listen to the author at a convocation. This is a great example of a learning community.
- College Writing Expectations: You simply need to learn how to write well in college and in life. Even the best writers can use additional skills to fine-tune their abilities. You'll discuss the expectations of college professors, and learn about resources to help you become a better writer.
- Overcoming Challenges: You are going to encounter challenges in college. It's very normal, but it can be discouraging. You'll discuss anticipated challenges with your classmates, and learn how to assess your resources and overcome those challenges when they arise.
- Communication and Conflict Resolution: You'll learn how to resolve conflicts in a variety of relationships, and learn how to access additional resources to help you effectively communicate.
- Academic Strategies: You'll test your note-taking and textbook-reading skills and see how they stack up with college-level work. You'll also learn some helpful tips and resources for studying smarter in college.
- Academic and Career Planning: You'll learn how to explore the many degrees offered at USU, and how to track your progress toward a degree once you have declared a major. You'll also discuss with your classmates the importance of focusing on broad learning rather than a narrow set of job skills.
- Student Resources: You'll test your knowledge of the many resources funded by your student fees that you should be using to make the most of your time at USU.
- Campus Technology: Canvas, Portal, Banner, Access--you will need to know how to use all of these computer programs. You'll learn to use the on-campus computer labs, as well as the many pieces of software used at USU.
- Using the Library: You'll learn about the USU Library system, which you will need to use throughout your college career.
- Connecting to Campus: You've heard that you need to get involved, and hopefully you see the importance of building in-person social contacts. You will research clubs and organizations at USU, and discuss the role these events and activities can play in helping you become a better citizen.
- Building a Learning Community: USU is one large learning community, with several micro-versions of learning communities happening within. You will discuss ways you can be an active participant. You'll learn how to address your professors, what constitutes academic dishonesty, how to best prepare for class, and how to evaluate your courses and professors after a class.
- Bystander Intervention: You'll learn how you can create a safe learning environment at USU. You'll learn five tips for overcoming the bystander effect, and discuss pro-social behavior with your class and peer mentor.
- Time Management: Time management is a huge challenge for most people, and it can be particularly difficult while making the transition to college. You'll discuss the challenges of time management with your class, and learn some effective methods for managing your time.
Connections classes have about 32 participants per class. A portion of class time will be spent listening to formal lectures, and a large portion will be spent involving class members in sharing, reflecting, asking questions, and developing learning strategies for the semester ahead. In addition, classes and workshops will be held in many different areas of campus, so you will learn to navigate the campus easily.
Pre-Semester Version of the Course
Pre-semester sessions are held the week before the start of the semester, and three follow-up sessions will be held after the semester begins. The follow-up sessions are designed to provide additional support during your transition to the university environment. They provide a good chance to ask more questions, seek resources, and re-evaluate your study strategies for the semester. The pre-semester section times are as follows:
- Wednesday, August 24, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Thursday, August 25, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Friday, August 26, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
- Follow-up sessions as scheduled in Banner for each section
7-week, Regional Campus, Online, and Athlete Versions of the Course
In addition to the pre-semester course format, there are some 7-week sections offered for students who are not able to come the week before school starts. In addition to a traditional 7-week session, there are classes designed specifically for non-traditional students, veterans, regional campus students, and all-online students. There is also a full-semester course for varsity student athletes.
Registering for Connections
Register for USU 1010 like any other course through the Access system. Make sure you are able to attend the entire time because attendance is part of your grade. More information will be given at Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR.)
To complete the course with an acceptable grade, you will be required to fulfill certain assignments. Some assignments require writing, following personal observation and research of topics. Other assignments require you to create checklists of the facts and concepts discussed in class or workshops. All assignments are graded and designed to help you apply information during the semester. Students should be aware that Connections is an academic course and carries the same GPA weight as two credits in a university math or science course. Be prepared to give the Connections assignments your best effort.
Preparing for Connections
Plan on Checking In on August 23
Check-in for the pre-semester Connections courses takes place Tuesday, August 23 from 10-3 on the second floor of the Taggart Student Center. It only takes about 15 minutes to check in, and you can come anytime between 10 and 3. After you check-in, take time to visit the "Welcome to USU Fair" in the Sunburst Lounge. There you will receive information about campus and service organizations, employment opportunities, faith communities, local banks and credit unions, and computer set-up assistance.
If you are taking a 10-week or athlete section, you do not need to check in for Connections on August 23. You can simply go to your first class the first week of classes.
Submit your Waiver by August 24 (Required of Students in All Pre-Semester Sections)
If you are attending a pre-semester section that starts August 24, you are required to submit your signed waiver as a "quiz" in your Connections Canvas course. Canvas courses will open on August 17, and you will be able to access that quiz at that time. Waivers are due to be submitted by 9 am on August 24, the first day of class. If you will be under 18 years of age on August 24, you are required to have your parents or guardians sign in ink and upload a scan of a signed waiver to that quiz during the August 17-24 time window.
Complete your Common Literature Assignment
Connections students join in a common literature experience and submit a literature assignment prior to the start of the course. The 2016 selection is How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson. You are required to the read the book and upload the completed assignment to Canvas before your first class on Wednesday, August 24. If you are in the 7-week session, plan on submitting your assignment the first day of your class, unless you hear otherwise from your instructor.
Make Sure you Can Attend All of Class
Part of your grade for the class depends on your attendance. Much of the learning that occurs in Connections is a result of participation in class discussions and activities. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recreate a missed class session or workshop. Class for the two credit option begins Wednesday, August 24 at 9 am and continues through Friday night. Make sure to attend your follow-up sessions during the first weeks of the semester.
Bring the Following to Class:
- Student Handbook/Planner (given out at SOAR, remember to bring it back to Connections)
- Becoming a Learner book (given out at SOAR, remember to bring it back to Connections)
- Common Literature Book: (How We Got to Now)
Check into Housing
If you are living on campus you may check-in to your apartment starting Saturday, August 20 from 10a.m.-10p.m. If you are living off campus, please check with your landlord to see when you are eligible to move in. Check-in for on-campus housing will be available August 20-28 from 10a.m.-10p.m. at the area office where you are living. We strongly encourage you to check in on a Saturday or Sunday because the housing staff is limited during the weekdays due to training. There will be signs to help you find your check-in location once you get close to your residence hall.
Get your Parking Pass
You can buy your parking permits online starting mid-July at http://www.usu.edu/parking. During the Connections class, the Aggie Shuttle will be running. No special parking is provided for Connections students, so buy your parking permit prior to August 24 so you don't have to worry about that on the first day of Connections.
Plan your Meals
Connections students are responsible for all meals during the class. Connections instructors will provide lunch one day Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday during the week. Students with meal plans can use them in the dining halls, and dining locations on campus will be open for students wanting to purchase meals.
Plan on Attending Evening Activities
After classes during Connections week, students are invited and encouraged to participate in various evening activities. Whether you are from Boston or Smithfield, you will benefit from meeting other students and making Connections with your peers. Evening activities are optional, but highly recommended (class on Friday night is not optional).
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