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Programs : Doctoral : Student Handbook : Section Four

Okay, I've Arrived at the Department. What do I do?

You’re in trouble now, but Allison and 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 in the Geography Annex on the east side of campus. There, you should find your way to Allison's office (GA 125). For most of our Ph.D. students, Allison and Patti are the most important people on campus. They are extremely knowledgeable and a gold mine of information. Besides, they also make sure you get paid on time!

There's quite a bit of paperwork involved in "signing in" to the University. First, Allison or 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. There are only two social security offices in San Diego County that process applications for new and replacement social security cards. They are located in El Cajon at 810 Arnele Ave in El Cajon (close to the trolley stop) and in Downtown San Diego at 109 West Ash Street (also close to the trolley.) They will give you a receipt and you can take your SS card application receipt to Human Resources to get the process started. When your SS card arrives, you'll need to take it to Human Resources immediately. You must complete all necessary payroll forms within three days of your contracted start date in order to ensure that the first pay warrant will not be delayed. And, you must have supplied Human Resources with your social security card prior to your pay warrant being issued to you. The University uses a "Red ID" number as your official ID number and that will be listed on your student ID card (see below).

While at HR, you will receive a benefits packet containing information on 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 by the listed deadlines, your first paycheck will arrive on October 1 per CSU policy. You will continue to be paid once a month through September 1 of the following year. Also, your health insurance should be effective on October 1, if you signed up for benefits by mid-September. If you are an international student, and you do not have other health insurance, you will be required to purchase two months of the student health insurance through International Student Center. Payday is generally the last day of the month (you will receive a payday schedule) and Allison 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 118 (during construction of the new Aztec Center, so this is subject to change). They will issue you a 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 "HR memo" as you will need it for keys and a faculty parking permit for Fall and Spring semesters.

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, you can email the center at 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 two months of healthcare (currently about $272 for a single student with no dependents).

You will be assigned an office when you meet with Allison. 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. For the employee mail account, you must go to the ETS office (LL-200) with your Red ID.

After getting an office, you'll need keys. Allison will give you a key authorization form. You should take this form, a copy of your contract and your HR memo to Public Safety's Key Issue Office located next to Peterson Gym (across from the Aztec Recreation Center) along with your HR memo and Red ID. If you lose your key or do not return it by the deadline, there will be a charge of at least $25 per key. Pay close attention to emails that you receive regarding key return. If you do not return keys or renew keys by the deadlines, you will be fined.

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), HR memo and copy of your contract (both provided by Allison or Patti) to the Cashier's Office in Rm 2620 of the Student Services Building and pay the fee for a parking permit.

If you don't know it already, you should check with Allison or Patti to determine your work assignment. You'll be assigned a peer mentor and one or more faculty whom you'll be assisting. Be sure to see these folks as soon as possible. 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 introduction to the Department and answer any burning questions you might want to ask.

You should make a real effort to introduce yourself to the 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 in 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). Although the Office of the Registrar looks at each petition individually, some steps that you should take to establish residency would be:

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. You must also not be listed as a dependent on a tax return of any other state other than California. If you are listed as a dependent on an out-of-state tax return of a parent or family member, you will not be considered a resident, even if you follow the above steps. If you fail to become a California resident, you will be required to pay the non-resident fees starting from Year 2.

Handbook Topics

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?
Beyond My First Semester
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?

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.