Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blog 3: Defining objectives- collge biology programs

After reviewing a few different universities’ websites, I decided to look up my old home state’s university- the University of Iowa. I have to admit—I was pretty impressed! Since the topic of this assignment was to answer questions incoming freshmen would have about attending a school, I focused on the welcoming, easy to follow aspect of the university’s web page. The University of Iowa has a very informative website. Although it is a bit plain, all my attention was directed toward the appropriate links because there were no distractions. The home page was not too overwhelming , as say, USM’s homepage. The links are very straight forward. The page is laid out into different categories with easy to follow links under these categories. For instance under admissions for applying students, they have links broken down to first year, transfer, graduates and professional, international, and distance.
First things first- I decided to look into the difficulty level of the university’s application process, after looking at their biology program, because I remember how difficult applying to college was for me. Under the applications page they break down the tedious process of applying to college in a very clear, step- wise manner. With links on the first year admissions page such as application, application check- list, possible errors are eliminated, and a list of dead line dates ensures that you turn everything needed for the application process in on time. They have managed to make such a hard task seem easy and eliminates that anxious feeling of ‘am I doing this right?’, ‘have I missed anything?’. One you apply THEY set up and send you a Hawk ID and password so you can easily check the status of your application online. There are also instructions on how to get credit for college credits that were taken in high school right on the admissions page.
One of the most impressive things about the website is the effort that was put into making you feel welcomed. Under the link ‘Why Iowa’, which is on every academic program’s page, there are links to allow you to meet your professors/ faculty. They have actual videos welcoming you from their very own faculty. Iowa’s website has put a lot of effort into making you feel like you belong there! It’s a great advertisement strategy. There are even videos of students with their professors. Since I am a biology major, I was especially interested in the video of a biology student in the lab with her professor, and if I were an incoming freshman I was definitely be interested in getting to see what lab was like in college vs high school. In that video it also displayed the level of involvement the university has in helping students successfully plan their future career, because the video followed that same student at the local hospital shadowing doctors- as was what she planned to do with her degree- become a doctor. The university set her up with her shadowing sessions and is a great tool for any student who is not 100% sure of what career they want. This allows students to actually experience what it’s like to be in the line of work they THINK they want to be in and see if it’s really what they want to do the rest of their life. This eliminates what happens to so many graduates- get a job they have invested years of study into and hate it once they get the job because they really never knew what that profession consisted of. If USM has this ability to set students up with ‘a day in the life’ of a certain profession they definitely do not advertise it very well or make it so easy to access as to put in on their home page- especially in a VIDEO demonstration!!
The biology web page at the University of Iowa has a guideline of how to line up your schedule every semester to ensure the most successful degree plan for you under ‘Undergraduate Personal Academic Scheduler’ link. Southern has application too, but it’s confusing and hard to follow. Also on the University of Iowa’s biology page, under the ‘Introduction and Program Information’ link, there is an introduction to biology, a discussion of the range of biological topics, and describes information on areas of research. There is a link for ‘undergraduate student resources’ where there are biology class notes and syllabi on the website for your convenience. Class notes- right there at your fingertips that are uploaded to the website for you! The biology classes I have had at Southern where the professor posted his/ her notes online, had to create their own webpage to be able to post their notes. The issue with this is if you are away from your syllabus then it may be hard to remember their web address, but with Iowa having most biology class notes in one place makes it easy to access them. Once again- Iowa has accomplished making something simpler for the student.
The one thing I hope to take from this website and hopefully apply it to my own website is to be straight forward- no distractions. Simplicity is very appreciated to people that just need answers. My degree will be in biology and when I first started out in this degree plan the only thing I knew that this degree would qualify me for was to get into some sort of graduate school- whether it be medical school or getting a graduate degree in biology. It wasn’t until later I discovered all the interesting lines of work that one can be qualified for with a biology degree. That’s what I plan to highlight on my website- and do it as simple as possible.

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