Freshmen Arrival Weekend and Back to School 2014

Emory students helping freshmen move into their dorms

Emory students helping freshmen move into their dorms.

The 2014 Freshmen Arrival Weekend and Back to School (FAW/BTS) weekend and the week to follow were challenging, busy and successful.

By the numbers: the Emory College Class of 2018 numbers 1389 and Oxford College’s 1st year class totals 461. There are students from 45 countries and 48 states are represented; we’ll look for Montana and North Dakota next year. Enrollment increases every year, as does the academic standings and test scores, though that’s only part of what gives an applicant Emory potential. Our new students are bright, but they are also service, sports and community-oriented and are as quick to lend a hand as they are to enjoy serious conversation on the latest world news.

For us, the known ‘new’ factor would be the Network Access Control (NAC). The NAC is a gateway for laptop network registration. It checks to make sure you have Emory’s McAfee Anti-Virus and that your equipment’s operating system is up to date. Piloting had been successful at 1762, NDB and the Woodruff Library and NAC was rolled out to ResNet in May. All was well until the Academic pilot in July was rolled back; a controller had not fared well and another was showing signs of distress. While unsuccessful for the Academic network, the experience showed us what we might expect come August and the arrival of 5000 students living on campus.

The Network Architects and the NAC Project team immediately went to work assessing the ResNet wireless infrastructure by taking steps to augment controllers, realigning access points for load balancing and reconfiguring the Bradford component by adding pods, all in two weeks’ time. For us, the good news was that we made a point of emphasizing the need for McAfee and current OS to our new students – starting with an email in June, a New Student Seminar in July (via the Office of Undergraduate Education) and then a reminder in August. Our signage reiterated the message and we increased our publicity effort to include the DUC and Woodruff Library, as well as all the Residence Halls.

Everything we did contributed to a smooth weekend and while it feels like 0 to 5000 in a weekend’s time, it’s really more like 300 to 14,500 in 2 weeks’ time. Over that weekend, we have new and returning students, as well as parents, siblings, extended family, U-Hauls, giant storage containers, one way traffic, high humidity and lines everywhere…except in the Residence Halls. For the first time, our Back to School staff worked entirely out of the Computing Center at Cox Hall. Residence Life loved having their lobbies dedicated to their check in process and we were glad to consolidate in one location. In keeping with technology improvements over the years, we have reduced the number of staff significantly. This year we were 20 strong and 11 of this count were our intrepid students of Student Technology Support (STS).

Our numbers tell a great story: we saw more students over the weekend so they knew where to go (2013: 375,  2014: 396) but overall, we saw fewer students requiring technical assistance over the following week, so our instructions and signage were effective (2013: 1739,  2014: 1580). By Sunday afternoon, we had 1345 unique NetIDs on ResNet with 3868 devices, about 3 per user.

Here’s the rate of arrival matched to number of devices:

Chart 1

(Note:  the first day of class was Wednesday August 27)

The following represents Wireless Usage for Saturday 8/24

Chart 2

What was new for 2014?

  • The Bradford NAC handling network registration on ResNet
  • Emory’s McAfee Anti-Virus required on all laptops (Macs are new to this policy and 60% of our returning students were impacted.)
  • A live webinar – LITS collaborative effort with Erin Mooney as 1st year Librarian, Student Services’ Tara McCurley and Michael Buchmann, and several students who did a great job
  • Redesign of space in the Learning Commons, Level 2 of Woodruff Library
  • Enhanced storage and collaboration opportunities for students on Box and O365’s OneDrive along with MS Office apps, while also promoting the Emory Mobile application and the EmoryBubble

It was a great weekend and we gave our New Students a genuine “Welcome to Emory.”

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