Programs : Doctoral : Student Handbook : Section Four
Okay, I've Arrived at the Department. What do I do?
You’re in trouble now, but Patti will help get you straightened out! The first thing to do when you arrive on campus is to go to the Department of Geography which is located on the third floor of Storm Hall on the west side of campus. There, you should find your way to Patti’s office (GA 129). For most of our Ph.D. students, Patti O’Leary, the Department Coordinator and Lilia Ortiz, Geography Graduate Coordinator, are the most important people on campus. They are extremely knowledgeable and a gold mine of information. Besides, Patti makes sure you get paid on time!
There's quite a bit of paperwork involved in “signing in” to the University. First, Patti will give each of you a packet with several forms and a letter designating “sign-in” times. Once you complete these forms, you should go to the University's Human Resources Office on the 4th Floor of the Extended Studies Building during the designated times to do so. You have to present Human Resources with a Social Security card and a government-issued picture identification (driver's license, passport, etc.). If you don't have a SS card, you'll have to get one. The closest Social Security office is at 7373 University Ave, Suite 101 (about 5 miles from campus). You can take your SS card application receipt to Personnel to get the process started, but you will not get paid until you submit the social security card. When your SS card arrives, you'll need to take it to Personnel immediately. If you don't do these things, the University won’t pay you. The University no longer uses Social Security numbers as the official ID number. This has been replaced by a “Red ID” number that will be listed on your student ID card (see below).
You’ll also have to fill out W-4 forms and other neat stuff (like signing a loyalty oath). While at Personnel you can pick up information about the various insurance programs for which you qualify. You will need to decide which programs you want and sign up for them with Personnel. Assuming you properly sign-in in a timely manner, your first paycheck will arrive on October 1 per CSU policy. You will continue to be paid through September 1 of the following year. Also, your health insurance is not effective until October 1, so try not to get sick until then. Payday is generally the last day of the month (you will receive a payday schedule) and Lilia normally has the checks ready for dispersal by about 4:00 PM. The University provides direct deposit of payroll checks if you wish it.
Without a Red ID Card, you can't get much done on campus. As a Teaching Associate, you’ll be given a “human resources memo” when you sign in. You need to take this and skedaddle over to the Photo ID Center, which is currently located in West Commons across from Starbucks (during construction of the new Aztec Center, so this is subject to change). They will issue you a shiny, new plastic photo ID with your Red ID number. This ID also is used as a swipe card for entrance to our labs and a library card which allows you faculty borrowing privileges. Don't throw away your “memo,” as you will need it for keys and a faculty parking permit.
If you are an international student, you should check in with the International Student Office. It is located in the International Student Center on the far west side of campus (across the parking lot from Storm Hall at the corner of 55th and Aztec Circle Drive). They can help you with immigration questions and registration procedures. For visa information contact Heather Shapazian. You will need to provide them with proof of your acceptance into the Ph.D. program, along with evidence that your fees and health care are covered. Also, you may have to purchase a rider for your health insurance (currently about $15).
Offices and E-mail
You will be assigned an office when you meet with Patti. We usually kick departing grad students out of their offices by August 15, so if you arrive after that date you should be able to move right into your new digs. There will be a computer and telephone in your office, which you will share will your office mate(s). There are two types of e-mail accounts. The Rohan e-mail account which you get via Web Portal (see the department computer policy guide for specific instructions) and the employee “mail” account. You can obtain an e-mail account by going to the TNS help desk in Love Library. The entrance is in the back of Love Library between the Library and the Open Air Theater. If you have any questions, you can contact Dave McKinsey (Ext. 48042 or firstname.lastname@example.org) who is the Technical Manager of the Center for Earth Systems Analysis Research (CESAR), the Department’s image processing/GIS facility. He will give you a one-page set of instructions for establishing an e-mail account.
After getting an office, you'll need keys. Lilia will give you a key issue form which you will need to take to Public Safety’s Key Issue Office located next to Peterson Gym (across from the ARC) along with your HR memo and Red ID. Try not to lose your keys too often because Public Safety attempts to charge a ridiculous replacement fine ($25/key) if you do.
Those of you who plan on driving to campus are entitled to faculty parking privileges. You'll need to take your Red ID card (see above), a temporary ID and copy of contract (both provided by Patti) to the Cashier’s Office in Rm 2620 of the Student Services Building and pay for a semester’s parking permit.
If you don't know it already, you should check with Patti to determine your work assignment. You’ll either have a mentor if you're teaching or one or more faculty whom you'll be assisting. Be sure to see these folks as soon as possible. All Ph.D. students should plan on taking “Teaching College Geography” as it is required by the department. You are advised to take this informal and valuable course during or prior to teaching your first course at SDSU. It starts the week before classes and meets once a week for six to seven weeks. For questions about this course, please speak with Dr. John O'Leary (x45511). It is imperative that you attend the beginning of year Doctoral Program Orientation Meeting held the week before classes start in the fall semester. The Doctoral Adviser and Coordinators will give you an orientation to the Department and answer any burning questions you might want to ask.
You should make a real effort to introduce yourself to all of faculty in the Department. The week before classes is a good time to do this because almost everyone is around and there are a lot of unfamiliar faces lurking the hallways. All of the faculty have an open-door policy most of the time, so you can just wander from open office door to open office door letting people know who you are. If a door is closed, just knock to see if someone is hiding inside. This will allow you and the faculty to attach faces to names and helps to create good feelings on all sides. You'll probably be surprised at how interested most faculty will be to meet you!
Because of the high cost of non-resident tuition, we require that our Ph.D. students who are U.S. citizens but not California residents become California residents during their first year here. You must do this immediately (deadline is mid-September of your first year) by: (1) getting a California driver’s license; (2) registering to vote at your California address, (3) opening a bank account in California, (4) registering your vehicle in California, (5) signing a lease in California and (6) paying state taxes (and using your California address for tax reporting purposes). You are encouraged to complete 1 through 5 above before the semester begins. Also, if you have an automobile you are required by law to register it within 30 days. If you fail to become a Californian, you get to pay your own tuition from Year 2 on!
How did I get Admitted?
What does the Financial Offer I Accepted Mean?
What Happens Between the Time I'm Accepted and When I Enroll?
Okay, I've Arrived at the Department. What do I do?
My First Semester's Started: Now What?
When Should I Plan on Spending My Year at UCSB?
Any Information that might Help Me for My UCSB Residency?
What are the Major Mileposts in My Program?