Monday, October 1st, 2018...5:57 pm

10 Things Every U of T Grad Student Needs to Know (VIDEO + Transcript)

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In this Facebook LIVE video, grad students Sarah and Amika share their top 10 things that U of T grad students should know. Check out the video below as well as a transcript of the key points & links from the video!

10 Things Every U of T Grad Student Needs to Know

And we’re #LIVE with Sarah and Amika talking about 10 Things Every University of Toronto Grad Student Should Know. Happy to answer your Qs! #uoftPlease NOTE: We'll be sharing the full transcript of today's LIVE in the comments below after the broadcast.

Posted by U of T Gradlife on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

KEY POINTS

Tip 1: Being a Grad Student Is a Profession, Not an Identity
  • Think of yourself as an apprentice – critiques and failures are an important part of the learning process! Approach roadblocks or conflict with curiosity.
Tip 2: Figure out and Honour Your Working Style
  • Experiment with different days and times to get work done. Be flexible, but also honour your boundaries.
Tip 3: Determine Your Methods of Organization
  • Consider a digital planner (great to set in reminders) or a physical one (screen-free, get creative). Build in self-care activities.
Tip 4: Know Where to Get Cheap Groceries
  • Metro student discount days are on Tues/Wed; Loblaws discount days are on Tues/Wed/Thurs. Buying produce at smaller markets (e.g., Kensington) and meal prepping are great ways to save.
Tip 5: Look into TTC Student Pass
Tip 6: Remember That You Have More Skills Than You Think
  • Consider your transferable skills and look into ways to use the skills you’ve learned in grad school outside of grad school.
Tip 7: Find a Balance Between Too Much and Too Little
  • Usually when we think we’re doing too much, we’re doing too much – and often when we think we’re doing too little, we’re doing enough. It’s OK to say no, even after we’ve already said yes.
Tip 8: Prioritize Mental Health
Tip 9: Recognize That Impostor Syndrome Is Incredibly Common
  • So many of us feel like we’re inadequate, that we don’t belong in grad school. Remember that you are here because you deserve to be, and that you’re not alone in feeling this way!
Tip 10: Reach Out When You Need Support
  • If you don’t know where to go, the Grad CRC can help you. We can help you figure out which resources will best support you.

Click the “read more” below for the full script with links!

TRANSCRIPT

Introductions

  • Sarah – Program Intern at Gradlife & student in MEd in Higher Education, Student Development and Student Services program
  • Amika – Peer Advisor at Grad Conflict Resolution Centre (Grad CRC) & grad student at Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation in Health Informatics program
  • At Gradlife, we create programs to help graduate students get connected, find community, build skills, and take a break from the stresses of grad school.
  • At the Grad CRC we provide free, confidential services for grad students, by grad students. These services include one-on-one appointments, drop-in sessions, and workshops.
  • We will be going over the top 10 things grad students wish they had known when starting out
    • From our own experience (ourselves and working with students), received input from grad student peers
  • Links to anything mentioned will be posted in the comments as we go
  • Taking questions at the end – comment below to get your questions in

Top 10 Tips

Tip 1: Being a Grad Student Is a Profession, Not an Identity

  • Think of yourself as an apprentice: Just as you would seek out more training and development at a job, grad school is a time for you to learn and grow. You don’t need to know it all right from the start! In fact, no one does.
  • Critiques and failures are part of the learning process — but you’ll need to separate yourself from the work you’re producing. (I know, it’s hard!)
  • When you hit roadblocks or conflict, approach with curiosity
    • Try to get as much information as possible
    • Ask questions: what information do I need to know in this moment, what support am I missing? What could make me feel more confident in this situation?

Tip 2: Figure out and Honour Your Working Style

  • When do you work best? What will set you up for success?
    • Pay attention to how you feel during different parts of the day
      • When is it easiest to focus on tasks requiring deep thought/ writing/ etc.
      • When is it easiest to focus on tasks requiring less thought?
    • Identify practices or characteristics of times where you were performing at your best. What did your life look like at that time?
      • How much sleep, social interaction, relax/fun, etc.
  • Experiment and be flexible
    • Test out different approaches and reflect on how they worked for you
    • Study yourself and what works for you
    • If you set up tasks for your day and they’re just not happening, reflect on what’s going on with you and then allow yourself to change your focus.
  • Set boundaries
    • E.g., if you decide you’re going to take weekends off, or plan a break into your schedule, follow through! Honouring boundaries isn’t always possible, especially when that stack of grading has come in. But make sure that you’ve scheduled in even just 30 minutes for you!

Tip 3: Determine Your Methods of Organization

  • Day planner vs. digital planner
    • Google Calendar
      • Pros: good if you are bad with paper, can access on multiple devices, can easily schedule recurring events with reminders, don’t need to carry a separate planner
      • Cons: can be overwhelming to get notifications, bugs can happen, sometimes writing out your priorities can help you feel more incontrol of your time (this is missing in this method)
      • Amika’s approach
        • Enter all your classes, deadlines, milestones and important personal days
        • Schedule work and fun
        • Use colour to help identify balance (I use yellow of self-care vs. purple for work)
        • Change reminder settings and sync with your phone so that you can get reminders of when to leave for class, meeting, etc.
    • Day planner
      • Pros: Less screen time, more of an ability to get creative, low stakes way to start your day
      • Cons: An additional thing to carry in your already heavy bag, costs money, requires YOU (i.e. isn’t automated)
      • Can incorporate self-care activities – reflection, setting intention, writing out gratitude lists, etc.

Tip 4: Know Where to Get Cheap Groceries

Tip 5: Look into TTC Student Pass

  • The TTC offers students a discounted rate for monthly passes (unlimited travel for a month) for full-time U of T students.
  • They are currently transitioning between the Metropass and the Presto card for monthly passes – so for October, you would need to buy a Metropass, and starting November you can buy a pass on a Presto card.
  • I’ll do my best to explain the processes for both – summary will be in transcript and links to more info below!
  • Monthly passes are sold starting the 24th of the month prior to the month they are valid.
  • Step 1 for both passes: Get your TTC post-secondary photo ID. It costs $7 and you can buy it either at Sherbourne Station OR at the Hart House Reading Room on Tuesday, October 23 from 10am-4pm. You’ll need to bring a proof of enrollment and a photo ID.
  • For the Metropass, Step 2: Buy your metropass from TTC collectors in subway stations or at Pass Vending Machines at select stations.
  • For the monthly pass on the presto card *starting November*, you will also need to get your photo ID, but instead the next step is to go to a Shoppers Drug Mart service location OR Davisville station – there, you can buy your card, get the card set to “student” fare type, and load your pass!
  • You will also be able to add the pass online at prestocard.ca or at fare vending machines at most subway station entrances.
  • More info here: https://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Fare_information/Seniors_students_and_children/Post_Secondary_Students/index.jsp
  • Presto pass FAQ here: https://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/PRESTO/Monthly_Pass_FAQ.jsp
  • If you are using a presto card but won’t need a pass, one thing to note is the new 2 hour transfer period! Now you can go do your quick errands and not worry about having to pay for both ways.

Tip 6: Remember That You Have More Skills Than You Think

  • Consider your transferable skills
  • Use the skills you’ve learned in grad school outside of grad school
    • Example: Community-engaged learning – give back to the community
  • Find win-win situations – expand horizons, build connections
    • Find situations or opportunities that can offer short-term and long-term significance (i.e. more income in short-term and practical skills related to field for long-term)
      • Think about multiple career directions in your field and skills that could improve your suitability for different directions. Seek out opportunities that could fill those gaps
  • Chat with career exploration & education – they do one-on-one appointments and also have workshops on identifying transferable skills!

Tip 7: Find a Balance Between Too Much and Too Little

  • Usually when we think we’re doing too much, we’re doing too much – and often when we think we’re doing too little, we’re doing enough
  • There’s always going to be ANOTHER thing you could add to your plate, ANOTHER round of revisions you could do on that article. Sometimes you have to stop when it’s “good enough” and know that your “good enough” is, for most, quite amazing.
  • Pay attention to your body and mental state: have you eaten three meals today? What were you eating? Is your body starting to cramp up? How long have you been sitting at your desk for? Can you do a little stretch?
  • It’s OK to say no & it’s OK to change your mind after saying yes. This one is one of the hardest things for most grad students.
    • If we say no to an opportunity, we feel like we’ve closed that door forever. But when you close one door, you’re making space for a different (and perhaps even better) opportunity to appear.
    • Remember: stretching yourself too thin doesn’t serve you or your work.
    • Also: LIFE CHANGES! You might have said yes to something at a time when it felt manageable, and now it doesn’t. That’s okay. No one is going to benefit from you over-extending yourself.
  • Self-reflection – what are my priorities?
    • These should be a mix of professional, academic, and personal. This leads up to our next point:

Tip 8: Prioritize Mental Health

  • Usually when we come up with our list of priorities, our mental health falls to the bottom.
  • There are lots of opportunities on campus to take a mental health break:
  • Given that we’re doing something with our brains, it’s kind of funny that we can forget that our brains need rest and time to replenish. This might mean giving yourself a screen-free hour where you take your lunch outside and go for a walk. Remember, if this is a job — which it is — you’d have 30 minutes to an hour for a lunch break.
  • You want to be proactive, rather than reactive. Don’t wait until the meltdown happens (and it will happen). Put the pieces in place now so that your mental health is taken care of when things start to get really busy.

Tip 9: Recognize That Impostor Syndrome Is Incredibly Common

  • Impostor syndrome comes up those times when we feel we’re inadequate, that we don’t belong in graduate school, that everyone else has it all together while we have no idea what we’re doing. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!
  • We this come up again and again in our meetings with students. Everyone is feeling it.
  • Building networks with grad students within and outside of your department is very helpful for this
    • Meeting with grad students in different departments not only helps expand your thinking but also helps you see similarities in the grad school experience despite differences in field of study

Tip 10: Reach Out When You Need Support

  • If you don’t know where to go, the CRC can help you. We can help you figure out which resources will best support you.
  • Again: it’s coming back to being PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE. It can be so easy to put off dealing with something when it hasn’t reached full on problem mode yet.
  • Maybe you don’t need solutions, you just need someone to listen as you vomit out all of your feelings. We (the peer advisors at the CRC) love being that human!

Conclusion 

  • Thank you so much for joining us on this Facebook Live! We hope the tips we’ve shared will help you with your transition into graduate school, or be useful reminders as you continue on in your grad career.
  • The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone – there are so many resources on campus here to help you, including the Grad CRC and Gradlife.

 



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