March 2nd, 2017
Guest blog post
By Sam F., G2G Peer Advisor (Conflict Resolution Centre for Grad Students)
The mid-term point can be stressful for many graduate students – assignments need to be handed in; assignments need to be marked; and graduation may be fast approaching…all while the weather keeps getting better! I know firsthand how hard it can be to receive tough feedback from your supervisor when the sun is shining through the lab windows.
Here are 5 strategies the Grad2Grad Peer Advisors and I brainstormed to keep developing your confidence in grad school and stay motivated until the end of the term:
- Get more information. If you are working with a supervisor, check out the SGS Graduate Supervision Guidelines! Read up on best practices and think about what your professional relationship with your supervisor should (and could!) look like. These guidelines were updated in 2016 and outline key responsibilities of students, supervisors and committees, in addition to useful checklists and vignettes (based on real graduate student situations). Many departments have additional guidelines for their non-supervised students as well!
- Recognize your strengths. At times you might feel like everyone is better than you/smarter than you/faster than you, but remind yourself that you deserve to be in grad school just as much as anyone else. Learn to recognize the signs of “imposter phenomenon” and reassure yourself that you belong here for many reasons! Check out the American Psychology Association’s explanation of the imposter phenomenon for extra information on how to manage these negative emotions
- Deal with people mindfully. When communicating with faculty, peers or employers avoid the temptation to always challenge or respond by recognizing when you might be becoming defensive (or offensive!). Try to listen to others with understanding and compassion, and when people feel like their views are being heard they may be more open to new ideas, which could save you emotional energy in the long run!
- Take care of yourself. It is hard to feel confident if you are exhausted all of the time. Consider putting some energy into self-care, not just academics! Take a walk and discover the more remote corners of campus, explore High Park or take a stroll by the lake, window shop on Queen West, or take an hour (or more!) to do whatever makes you feel relaxed and happy – it’s worth it to feel recharged. But, if you’re finding yourself taking on too much work, GradLife has a post about mitigating grad burnout.
- Ask for help. Many grads have already reached out to the CRC to talk to a G2G Peer Advisor. G2G are grad students who provide a confidential (free!) listening ear to fellow grad students. Consider making an appointment with the Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre (CRC) for any problem big or small, and the G2G can help you to feel more confident as you make your way through your graduate life experiences.
If you have any other strategies that you use to boost your confidence in graduate school, we’d love to hear from you! Drop by and talk to me (or one of the other G2G) during one of my drop-in times on UTSG campus: we post all G2G appointment times and drop-in hours on CLN: https://cln.utoronto.ca/ and Twitter @G2GUofT.
Sam is a first year master’s student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with an interest in developing community-based supports for mental health and suicide prevention. Outside of UofT, he is a craft beer and home-brewing enthusiast, where his B.Sc. in biochemistry from UBC found an applicable outlet.