24 September 2019

Allocation of freshers to peer guides

This is such a riveting topic! I am sure all my readers will consider this post a veritable page-turner (or down-scroller, I suppose). But let me explain why I dedicate a whole post to this.

In the olden days, when Welcome Week would approaching, the Schools would be given a spreadsheet with all their freshers and one with the peer guides, and then either the peer guides of the peer guide coordinator just assigns the students to the peer guides. And then the peer guides and the freshers get each other's contact details and it all starts rolling. But now it had all gone digital! All freshers and peer guides appear on a site and I have to assign them. And the good thing is that you can select the freshers on the basis on various useful things such as age or which student halls they live in. Or whether they speak Welsh. Suchlike! So the allocation is not too much of a faff. But then the list of freshers is gone. You can then only access them via their peer guide. So if you get a request from a certain fresher to be assigned a peer guide with some specific attribute or something like that, you have to check the lists of all individual peer guides until you find the fresher. And then sort it out! I had 22 peer guides and the site was slow. On my office computer it took some 40 to 45 seconds to get back from the freshers list of one peer guide to the list of peer guides. So if you find the fresher in the last peer guide's list you've been at it for almost half an hour! Not good. 

But that was not the worst. The freshers fill out their personal profile, with things such as contact details, and then they indicate in a drop-down menu who they want to disclose that information to. And very many had only released their university email address to their peer guides! They probably had been a bit absent-minded when doing that, because traditionally, the freshers only start accessing their university email once they get here. But the peer guides need to get in touch before that! And that clearly didn't go so well. As I have access to all the data (and our admissions team does too) I decided after the meeting to send a bulk email to all the freshers pointing out that some might have indeed only have released their university address while not actually reading that yet. I sent that to their personal addresses. I could only hope it would help! But I think the website needs to warn against that. There is clearly still room for improvement.

It didn't help I had to do some of this in Laugharne. Things kept changing! New freshers coming in, for example. So I needed to keep tweaking the allocations. In a holiday chalet with shaky wifi. It wasn't pleasant. But hopefully this is the last time I have to sort this!

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