Aloha and Welcome to IfA, this page aims to roughly guide you through the process you need to take to get prepared for your new PhD life upon your date of arrival, which is recommended to be at least one week (two weeks for international students) before the semester officially starts (around August 2X). Should you have any question in any case, contact your Admission Rep or Grad Rep
Housing is probably the first thing you need to deal with even before you hop on your flight, there are several ways to find housing, check Housing Section for more information. It is also easier and potentially cheaper to find your fellow classmates to share a place.
Report and Paper Work
You should report to IfA admins (either Personnel Officer Debra Hew-Harano or Fiscal Accounting Specialist Gerald Hamadon) at first floor B building as soon as possible upon your arrival. International students are strongly recommended to do so as well as to the International Students Services. You will be given a stack of forms you need to fill out regarding your payment, health insurance and tax forms etc. If you are a TA then you also need to meet admins in the Physics department at main campus. Campus Map for UH Manoa.
You will also be assigned an personal office space. Check with Bill in B-126D for the location and keys.
Class registration should be done through UH registration system MyUH. Usually in mid of August, MyUH would open for registration for a week specifically for incoming new students, and after that there is a 3-4 days period for all students. You should be cautious that there will be a late registration fee if you miss the official registration dates.
Almost all the information you need can be found at : http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/gradprog/registration.shtml.
Astronomy courses offered in fall 2011 are at http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/gradprog/schedf2011.shtml The 6XX courses are 3 credit core courses for the graduate program, and 7XX level courses are seminars. The 699 course is special. You will need CRNs to register, they are at http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/gradprog/crn_f11.pdf
You need to register for 2 credits of Directed reading (699) credit/no credit, and you must register for astrophysical techniques (633). The 699 course will be a series of lectures from professors about their research, the goal being to help you find a good professor to do your first directed research (699) project with (even if you already have one it's nice to hear what else is going on at the IfA). Dave will explain more of how this works in the first meeting of this class. Astrophysical techniques covers the basics of what you need to know to do observational astronomy, and thus is mandatory.
Other than these, you should just take the courses/seminars that sound interesting. You are allowed to take any classes on campus you want as well. Several of grads are taking Japanese, and another student took a very interesting Glass Blowing class a few years ago, as examples. There are some other requirements to keep in mind for completing your PhD: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/gradprog/phd_progress.shtml. You all should find these pretty easy to meet over the next 2 years.
Fees and Tuition
After you register for classes, and you fill out all the annoying forms from admin, it will take a week or so for the IfA to get your tuition waived. If after a very long time, you still see they have not taken care of your tuition on you MyUH page, something is wrong and you should talk to the people in admin to see what the holdup is. Although your tuition is covered, 'student fees' are not. For 2011Fall semester, there are about $400 in fees you have to pay to cover using the UH athletic facilities, busses, etc. This is done through MyUH. After these are paid, you can go down to the student center and get your student ID.
With your ID you can ride the public busses for free (it's normally $2.50 per ride), gain access to the UH gym, and a bunch of other things that you might never use but worth checking out. You will have to re-validate your ID each semester after paying your fees and after the IfA gets your tuition waived.