A Fresh Perspective from New Members


Many of our 61 newcomers provided their opinions about their introduction to LLI and their courses in the Council’s recent new member survey. The good news is that most of the comments were positive. The negative feedback is valuable, however, since the survey was undertaken with a genuine desire to learn how our organization can improve. Here are some of the new member reactions.

The Mentor Program

Most of the respondents (84%) were contacted by a mentor. Some new members said they didn’t need one, but those who needed one received help.

Those who worked with their mentor generally rated their experience very good or excellent, saying:

  • Mentoring is a wonderful concept.
  • It was helpful to have somebody to answer simple questions, without having to look around the website for the appropriate person, etc. …It made things simpler.

On the other hand, others responded:

  • My mentor didn’t do much.
  • Mine had errors in the first email.

Bard Campus Tours

Most respondents (88%) took one of the campus tours. About two thirds (68.2%) said it gave them all the information needed to find their way around campus.

  • The tour was extremely helpful. I would have been completely lost without it.
  • I don’t think it could be improved upon. I learned a lot about the history of Bard, the resources available to us when we were on campus and it was useful for finding my way around campus once classes started.

Although 27% found the tour was helpful, they thought it could have been improved.

  • Campus layout is confusing at first. Would like better campus maps to help w/navigation.
  • It would be helpful to have a map for dummies, to show the path between buildings clearly identifying buildings where the classes would be taking place.
  • It took me awhile to figure out the best entrance in, and the best way to get there from parking lots, and other buildings.
  • Wish I had been walked to the library and had gone inside the buildings during the tour.
  • The tour was very strenuous. I was exhausted after trotting all over campus.

New Member Orientation

The majority (88%) of respondents attended the orientation for new members. More than 90% said it prepared them well for their first semester at LLI.

On the plus side, the respondents said:

  • Presenters were welcoming and enthusiastic. 
  • It was focused on the needs and interests of the members.
  • I appreciate the continued use of name tags.
  • Everyone who presented received a high grade for preparedness, good sense of humor and impressive breadth of information.
  • The orientation was complete and well organized and I felt fully supported.
  • The presentation during lunch was also interesting
  • I liked hearing all the speakers talk about the classes, socialization opportunities and special events that we could participate in.
  • Stickers on new member name tags are a real benefit as older members reach out to introduce and give welcome.

Most negative comments concerned the setup at the luncheon and the volume of information presented at orientation.

  • With no tables but food, it made it difficult to talk to people.
  • Luncheon was a bit of a zoo, with too many people for the room and inconvenient to eat with plates on laps.
  • Informative but almost TMI (too much information).

Member Folders

Most (96%) subsequently referred to the information about LLI and Bard College provided in the new member folder.

  • It was great.
  • I think it was very comprehensive as is. I can’t think of anything that would improve it.

Others had specific requests:

  • Better, more specific maps.
  • Parking information & information about discounts.

Welcome Table at Olin

This was the first year a welcome table was set up at Olin as a place where members could ask for information and directions the first two weeks of classes. More than half of respondents (52%) stopped by the table and found it useful, and everyone thought it was a great idea.

  • Everyone at Bard is extremely welcoming and friendly.
  • The volunteers were incredibly helpful and kind. Their graciousness was welcoming and appreciated.

Because of these responses, LLI will have a welcome table set up in the Olin lobby on the first Friday of spring classes. Look for more information in the March newsletter.

Course Schedules and Quality

One intrepid newcomer took six courses, but most contented themselves with between one and three. In general, the comments about the quality was strongly positive:

  • The courses were all outstanding, better than I anticipated.
  • I found them very informative and taught by well informed people.
  • One course was very well presented and it brought out a creative side of myself previously undiscovered.
  • The surprise was the brilliant, competent & energetic presenter w/a sense of humor.
  • Generally well organized with knowledgeable instructors and engaging student interaction.
  • One course (Reading Out Loud) was superb as were the teacher and managers of this class.

But some were less enthusiastic:

  • Wasn’t overwhelmed by the selection.
  • The visiting lecturers … had very pre-prepared lectures with no time to focus on questions about what they were saying. Almost as if they didn’t really want to engage.
Members working

Thank You

Your feedback is important to let the Council know what we are doing right and where we need to improve. The comments from new members are especially valuable as we prepare for the future. Thank you to all who took the time to share their insights into our organization.