October 30th, 2018

Surviving the Midterm Slump!

Photo Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-computer-laptop-near-white-notebook-and-ceramic-mug-on-table-169573/

By: Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador

It is one of the most dreaded periods on the calendar of a university student –midterms! Whether we welcome it or not, midterm season is upon us at the University of Toronto.

It is the time of year when we are tasked with working through an onslaught of assignments. Would it be presumptuous for me to assume that, if you are a Teaching Assistant, you find yourself spending your Friday nights, curled up on your couch, with endless assignments to mark? Is it safe to wonder if any of us have been operating on a sufficient amount of sleep, over the past few weeks? How are you managing the pressure and demands of midterms?

If I am honest, then I must admit that midterm season has been challenging for me. I have been feeling stressed and overwhelmed with assignments. I feel guilty when I am not able to spend time with friends, or fulfill all of my commitments because of school. I feel ashamed when I struggle to manage my time efficiently. I also hate to admit this, but I struggle with trying to release myself from my inclination to measure my success, as a graduate student, by my grades.

If you are struggling during this period –you are not alone. I don’t have solutions, as I am still trying to figure out how to navigate this process myself. I would like to share some points to keep in mind, as I am finding them helpful.

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my classmates that really inspired me. She said that when she is feeling discouraged in grad school, she thinks back to that moment when she received her UofT acceptance letter. She remembers the hard work that brought her to this point, and her hopes for how she will use her education to make a difference in the future. Listening to her really lifted my spirits! It encouraged me to shift my focus from ruminating on my perceived shortcomings, to reflecting upon my strengths and the blessing of being a student!

Midterms are tough! We all have unique challenges. If you are experiencing the struggle of your own midterm slump, I encourage you to show yourself some compassion and grace. You will make it through!

Until next time,


October 19th, 2018

Imposter Syndrome -You are not alone!

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-sitting-next-to-table-and-right-hand-on-ear-1326946/

By: Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador

Do you frequently dismiss your achievements? Find yourself feeling extremely uncomfortable when you are recognized for your work? Do you have an underlying belief that you are not as intelligent or capable as people think that you are? Fear that you will be exposed as a fraud, who does not really belong in graduate school?

The statements that I listed all describe imposter syndrome. If you are experiencing it –you are not alone. This way of thinking is actually quite common among graduate students.

If you are struggling with imposter syndrome, I strongly encourage you to come out to our upcoming Grad Connection event, Feeling like an Imposter. Grad Connections are a great way for students to share experiences and support each other. We have a staff member from the Academic Success Centre who will be facilitating the event.

Some other helpful resources on campus are:

I would like to leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson, as it often comes to mind when I think about imposter syndrome.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

One thing that I know for sure is that we all have something of value to offer. As a dear friend gently reminded me once, we do not come into our academic programs, or anything in life, as perfect, all-knowing, experts who should never make mistakes. We come into our respective programs as ourselves -curious, imperfect, and worthy of this opportunity that we have to learn.

October 9th, 2018

Balance and Self-Care in Graduate School

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/group-of-people-sitting-on-white-mat-on-grass-field-745045/

By Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador

When you feel the pressure of school demands, what are the first things that you give up? Sleep? Meals? Gym time? Breaks? Hobbies? Social engagements? Religious meetings or practices? Time to sit with your thoughts and reflect?

For the past couple of years, I have made self-care a priority. I figured out a care routine that worked for me and committed to it. I was confident that I would be able to continue my self-care practices in this new phase of my life as a grad student.

Now that I am almost one month into my masters program, I realize that maintaining balance in grad school is more challenging than I thought it would be. I am embarrassed to admit that I have skipped meals to read. I have cut sleep to meet a deadline. I have substituted cooking nutritious meals, for quick and convenient fast food. I have also focused so intensely on my studies, that I have neglected quiet time to be still, meaningfully reflect, and pray.

If you are struggling with balance, like I am, there is encouraging news! Every day brings with it a new opportunity to make adjustments in our lives. Recognizing that we are having difficulty with self-care is the first step forward.

As I work on a routine to better achieve balance in this stage of my life, I would like to share some tips that I am learning along the way. My hope is that they will be helpful to you, as you develop your own self-care routine.

Listen to your body

  • Pay attention to how you are feeling in your body. If your body is telling you that you are tired and need to rest -listen. Be cautious about pushing yourself to work through exhaustion.

Nurture your body

  • There is truth to the saying, “we are what we eat.” I find that I am more energized and alert when I eat nutrient rich food. Eating healthy has been difficult for me lately, but I am hoping that planning ahead and packing healthy snacks will help me to better nurture my body in this season.
  • I would like to acknowledge that there are real challenges to accessing healthy food. Eating healthy can be expensive. I have included links to accessible food sources on campus below. Also, there are still spots available for our upcoming Grad Escape, Cooking on a Student Budget.

Move your body

  • Staying active is central to our health and well-being! Check out Hart House fitness programs and MoveU, an initiative on campus that helps student maintain an active lifestyle.

Be in community

  • There are a number of clubs and ways to stay connected to other students on campus. Come out to one our Grad Escapes or Grad Connections events. I recently attended these events and appreciate the opportunity that they gave me to connect with other grad students. I also encourage you to spend some time at the Grad Room, a drop-in space for grad students and the host site of our Grad Talks.

Connect with nature/ spend time outside

  • The University of Toronto is a beautiful campus! Sometimes when I need a break or want to clear my head, I go for a stroll through philosophers walk or sit out on the lawn in front of Convocation Hall. There are many beautiful places to explore on campus and throughout the city.

If faith and spirituality are important to you, nurture your spiritual life

Make time for what you love

  • Being a student is only one facet of who we are. Make some time to explore something that you are passionate about! For me, that may look like going on a photography walk or attending a guitar group at my church. For you, it may look like signing up for intramural sports, getting involved with Hart House Theatre, joining an advocacy or social justice group on campus, or something entirely different. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, try to make time for it.

Be kind to yourself

  • One of the things that was emphasized early on in my social work program, is the importance of self-compassion. Our graduate school journey will have it’s ups and downs. As human beings, we will inevitably make mistakes. Despite errors and disappointments, always remember to be kind to yourself. Show yourself grace. Research shows that self-compassionate people are actually better able to practice self-care (Terry & Leary, 2011).

I wish you well on your journey to achieve better balance!

Until next time,



Work Cited

Terry, M. L., & Leary, M. R. (2011). Self-compassion, self-regulation, and health. Self and Identity, 10(3), 352-362. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2011.

October 1st, 2018

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

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


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!

Keep reading →

September 26th, 2018

New Gradlife Ambassador!



By Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador

Do you want to make genuine connections in grad school? Are you struggling to figure out how to balance school, work and your personal life? Do you want to get involved and take advantage of the resources on campus, but don’t know where to start? Are you feeling overwhelmed by looming deadlines? I can relate and I’m here to help!

My name is Samara and I am thrilled to be your new Gradlife Ambassador! I am a first-year Master’s student at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. I am also a foodie, photography fanatic, and love a good adventure –CN Tower edge walk anyone?

At Gradlife, we are here to support you through your journey at UofT! We want you to get the most out of your grad school experience! I encourage you to come out to the programs and events that we organize throughout the year.

  • Pull yourself away from your readings for an evening and come out to one of our GradEscapes.
  • Want to build your confidence and improve your communication skills? Hope to share your research with a supportive audience? Participate in one of our GradTalks.
  • Are you looking to build supportive networks with other grad students on campus? Want to connect with peers who have similar interests? Come out to our bi-weekly Grad Connection Forum.

Stay in touch with us on social media! We run contests, post about upcoming events, and share graduate specific information on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Visit our website for information on everything from academic and conflict support, to career and leadership development. Find out about resources for international grads and students with family responsibilities.

Grad school can be electrifying and nerve-wracking, challenging and rewarding. Please know that you are not alone -we are in this together!

If you see me on campus, say hello! I would love to meet you! For those who registered for the Games night, I’ll see you there as I will be facilitating it!

Until next time,



September 12th, 2018

Coming Up in September: Gradlife Welcome Week (Sept 24-28, 2018)

Guest Blogger: Sarah Dolman, Gradlife Program Intern

Hoping to get off to a strong start this Fall term? Whether you’re a new or returning student, Gradlife has plenty of exciting activities planned to kick off the term as part of GRADLIFE WELCOME WEEK!

Check out all the details below:


Twitter Challenge – #UofTNewGradChat: Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation for your chance to win some awesome prizes! Every day from Monday, Sept 24 to Friday, Sept 28, we will be asking questions about your transition to grad life. This is an opportunity to reflect and get to know other students (via twitter!) as you’re getting settled in your new role as a U of T graduate student! Comment on our daily post (posted at 9am and re-tweeted at 3pm), and you’ll be entered into a draw for some fun giveaways. Each comment throughout the week gets you another entry into the draw! (NEW GRADS)


Transitioning to Gradlife – Tips, Strategies & Networking Day: Join a day of programming on September 24 from 9am-3pm to help you make the transition to grad life. Learn effective strategies for academic success and personal wellness, talking to people and making connections, and navigating campus services, as well as tips for success from current students. Lunch will be included! Space is limited, register here: uoft.me/gradtransition (NEW GRADS)


Facebook LIVE – Ten Things U of T Grad Students Should Know: On Wednesday, September 26 at 2pm, check out our Facebook page to catch our LIVE video with your grad peers from Gradlife and the Grad Conflict Resolution Centre. We’ll be taking questions live and sharing tips from current U of T graduate students. Have a question you want answered but don’t want to live post it? No problem! Send Gradlife a Facebook message, or email your question to sarah.dolman@utoronto.ca by Sept. 25th, and we’ll make sure it gets answered in the live video! (NEW & RETURNING GRADS)


Grad Connections – Welcome to Grad School Chat: Every two weeks throughout the term we will be hosting a Grad Connections chat where graduate students can share their experiences and challenges while feeling connected and supported. The first event this term is the Welcome to Grad School Chat on September 28 from 2-3pm! While, unfortunately, registration for this chat is already full, there will be plenty more coming up – check out our website for more details and to find out how to register for upcoming Grad Connections chats. (NEW & RETURNING GRADS)

Grad Escape – Games Night: Looking to take a break from grad studies, connect with other grad students, and have fun while exploring the city? Check out our first Grad Escape of the term at Bampot House of Boardgames on Friday, September 28 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm! This local venue offers specialty tea as well as tons of fun boardgames, and light vegetarian refreshments are included in the $9 registration fee. Register now to get your spot(NEW & RETURNING GRADS)

If you have any questions about any of the upcoming events, send me an email at sarah.dolman@utoronto.ca – hope to see you there!

September 6th, 2018

Virtual U of T Grad Campus Tour: Fall 2018

Guest Blogger: Sarah Dolman, Gradlife Program Intern

U of T St. George is a huge campus – if you’re a new grad student and feeling totally lost (as I was when I first started out!), you’re not alone! Even if you aren’t new to Toronto, you might not know about many of the grad-specific spaces, resources, and services. If you weren’t able to make it out to one of our in-person tours last week, check out the virtual tour below for all of the details!

To find out more about the services and locations, click on the titles to visit the websites for each.

Tour Map – Legend:

  1. RED STAR: School of Graduate Studies (SGS), 63 St. George St.
  2. ORANGE STAR: Centre for International Experience (CIE), 33 St George St.
  3. YELLOW STAR: Koffler Student Services Building, 214 College St.
  4. GREEN STAR: Bancroft Ave – Multi-Faith Centre, Grad Students Union, Bike Chain
  5. WHITE STAR: Athletics Centre, 55 Harbord St.
  6. LIGHT BLUE STAR: Grad Room / Grad House, 66 Harbord St.
  7. DARK BLUE STAR: 21 Sussex, 21 Sussex Ave.
  8. BROWN STAR: Robarts Library, 130 St George St.
  9. PINK STAR: Hart House, 7 Hart House Cir.


STOP 1: School of Graduate Studies (SGS), 63 St. George St.

  • Stop by for registration & enrollment concerns that can’t be solved at your home department; request letters to confirm registration
  • Financial advising
  • SGS runs the Graduate Professional Skills Program (GPS)
    • Learn a wide variety of transferable skills in the areas of communication, personal effectiveness, teaching competency, and research
  • Wellness counsellor dedicated to grad students
  • Student lounge – Feel free to hang out, anytime
  • SGS Orientation – Tuesday, September 4 – stop by the information fair and attend one of the sessions to learn more about all the SGS resources and services


STOP 2: Cumberland House – Centre for International Experience (CIE), 33 St George St.

  • Support for international and exchange students
    • Talk to the graduate student transition advisor Yaseen – he’s great! He does embedded advising in locations such as the Grad Room
    • Immigration and permanent residence advising
  • Find international study opportunities
  • Workshops on intercultural learning and communication

Centre for International Experience (Photo by Ken Rea)

STOP 3: Koffler Student Services Building, 214 College St.

Koffler Student Services Building (Photo by Ken Rea)


Walk by: Indigenous Student Services, Borden Building North, 3rd Floor, 563 Spadina Ave

  • Academic support and financial assistance for Indigenous students, including grads
  • Runs community events (e.g. Indigenous Education Week) and learning opportunities with Elders – open to all students

 (Not along the way) Accessibility Services, 455 Spadina – corner of Spadina & College

  • Talk to a disability advisor and register for accommodations to support your academic success

STOP 4: Bancroft Ave

Multi-Faith Centre & Centre for Community Partnerships, 569 Spadina Ave

  • Home of the Community Partnership Program (CPP), a great organization to join if you want to get involved in the Toronto community while you’re at U of T
  • Location of the Transitioning to Gradlife Orientation run by Gradlife on Sept. 24
  • Third floor is Multi-Faith Centre – space for all spiritual needs, e.g. prayer room, meditation, chaplains that provide spiritual counselling and guidance
  • Has a wide variety of educational and social activities for people of all kinds and levels of spirituality

Multi-Faith Centre (Source: University of Toronto)

GSU (Grad Students Union), 16 Bancroft Ave

  • Home of the Grad Student Union (dental, health insurance)
    • Welcome BBQ with grad-specific info fair on Wednesday, September 5, 4-8pm
  • GSU pub (365 days a year)
  • Number of committees, e.g. Grad Minds (mental health advocacy, talks, annual symposium, weekly yoga)

UTGSU (Photo by Shanna Hunter, The Varsity)

Bike Chain, 563 Spadina Crescent

  • Free bicycle rental for U of T students (you have to go in person to book it)
  • Workshops on bicycle safety and repairs

STOP 5: Athletic Centre, 55 Harbord St

  • The largest recreational gym on campus
  • Has: pool, running track, basketball courts, squash court, weight rooms, group fitness classes, etc.
  • Bring your TCard to enter
  • Other gyms: Hart House & Goldring Centre

Athletic Centre (Source: University of Toronto)

STOP 6: Grad Room & Grad House, 66 Harbord St

  • Grad Room is the study, workshop, and community space FOR GRADS
  • Grad Room has peer advisors called community animators (ask questions about: life as a grad, including events/workshops/jobs/volunteering/writing support, and more)
  • Embedded advisors often come here, e.g. from CIE or Conflict Resolution Centre
    • Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre – book an appointment with G2G (grad 2 grad) peer mentors online OR drop in at a location such as Grad Room to chat about problems with your thesis, your supervisor, etc. – booking and drop in times on CLN (Career Learning Network)
  • Downstairs has a workshop space – GPS classes, Grad Talks, Grad Minds Yoga, other activities
  • Grad House is the graduate student residence on campus

Grad Room (Source: University of Toronto)

Along the way – Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Office, 702 Spadina

  • Referrals for counselling, workshops, connect students with medical care/legal counsel/housing, etc.

STOP 7: 21 Sussex Ave

21 Sussex (Source: University of Toronto)

STOP 8: Robarts Library, 130 St George St

  • Tours for the first few weeks of school so you can learn the ins/outs
    • Each weekday in September (Sept 4-28) starting at 1:10pm – meet at the information desk on the first floor.
  • Awesome librarians who run workshops on how to do research & you can book consultations to get support with your research
  • Can also ask online – “Ask a Librarian” chat open during the day for research support
  • CTSI – Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation, run the Teaching Assistants Training Program

Robarts Library (Source: University of Toronto)


STOP 9: Hart House, 7 Hart House Cir

  • Student activity centre – tons of activities and opportunities to get involved & meet other students
  • Gym & fitness classes
  • Hart House Theatre
  • $5 lunch days once a month
  • “Get Crafty” events & Board Games Café
  • Open-house BBQ, “Explore Hart House” – Thursday, September 13th, 12-2pm (Try out a bunch of their programs and get free BBQ in return)

Hart House (Source: University of Toronto)

Along the way – King’s Circle Walk/En Route Walk

  • Medical Sciences Building – SGS orientation location
  • Convocation Hall
  • Queen’s Park (shortest route from East to West side of campus if you are TAing a class there)
  • Field = intramural sports like Quidditch, Grad Minds will sometimes host free yoga sessions here
  • Alumni Club – Pub and facilities are free to access as a grad student

Convocation Hall (Photo by Jphillips23)


August 23rd, 2018

Your Guide to Grad Orientation: Fall 2018

Guest Blogger: Sarah Dolman, Gradlife Program Intern

Are you an incoming graduate student at U of T this fall? Feeling excited, nervous, overwhelmed, or some combination of the three?

I get you – I’ve been there! I was in the exact same boat when I began my grad program (M.Ed. in Higher Education) a year ago. I was thrilled to be starting my program, but the idea of navigating a new school, a new city, and a new community, while adjusting to a whole new level of academic work, was totally nerve-wracking.

One of the biggest things that helped me adjust to grad school was attending several of the many orientation programs offered to U of T grad students! So, to help you out this year, I’ve put together some of the key orientation events that I definitely recommend you check out.


Grad Tours (Drop-In)

  • When: August 27, 29, 31 / Starting at 12pm, 3pm, 5:30pm
  • Where: School of Graduate Studies, 63 St George St.
  • Join Gradlife for a campus tour highlighting all the key campus services and resources for graduate students! Drop-in, no registration necessary.

Tri-Campus TA Day

School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Orientation

UTGSU Orientation: Gradfest 2018

  • When: Wednesday, September 5, 4-8pm
  • Where: 16 Bancroft Ave
  • Get to know your Grad Student Union! Meet other grad students, grab some FREE BBQ and swag bags, and learn about GSU services and resources.

Transitioning to Grad Life

  • When: Monday, September 24, 9am-3pm
  • Where: Multi-Faith Centre, Main Activity Hall
  • Registration: uoft.me/gradtransition
  • Incoming grad students will learn strategies for academic success and personal wellness, making connections, and navigating campus services. Lunch will be included!

Facebook LIVE: Ten Things U of T Grad Students Should Know

  • When: Wednesday, September 26, 2-3pm
  • Where: https://www.facebook.com/GradlifeUofT/
  • Find out what current grad students wish they would have known when starting out and get your questions answered at this LIVE Facebook event!

2018 Queer Orientation


Robarts Library Tours

  • When: Weekdays from Sept 4-28, starting 1:10pm
  • Where: Robarts, First Floor Information Desk
  • More info: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/tours
  • Learn how to navigate the vast array of information and resources found at Robarts Library.

Explore Hart House: Welcome BBQ

  • When: Thursday, September 13th, 12-2pm
  • Where: Hart House
  • More info: http://harthouse.ca/events/explore-hart-house-welcome-bbq/
  • Explore the variety of programs that Hart House offers across recreation, wellness, creative expression and skills development. Meet new people and enjoy a free BBQ!

Orientation for Students with Family Responsibilities

  • When: Saturday, September 15, 10am–2pm
  • Where: OISE – 252 Bloor Street West, Room 5150
  • Registration: http://familycare.utoronto.ca/events/workshops/#1483 
  • Start building your support networks and learn how to be proactive, prepared and successfully navigate your degree while caring for others – child care and lunch provided!

First Nations House Orientation & Open House

  • When: Friday, September 21; Orientation at 11am, Open House from 12-2pm
  • Where: First Nations House, 563 Spadina Cres
  • Registration: RSVP to fnh.info@utoronto.ca
  • Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2095051080759783/
  • Learn about the supports offered to Indigenous students and the FNH programming for the year, meet new people, and find out how to get involved on campus.

August 15th, 2018

Staying healthy during Grad School: My Story

Guest post: Raymond Wong, Ph.D. candidate (Life Sciences)

Often times, we take our good health for granted.

As grad students, our determination to meet deadlines and appease supervisors generally results in some combination of the following: cutting sleep, skipping meals, and/or reducing exercise. Over a prolonged period (aka your graduate program), this imbalanced lifestyle alongside chronic stress can jeopardize our well-being. What is most frightening is that, despite how good our perceived fitness is or how healthy we eat, there is no real safeguard to absolutely prevent unwellness.

Over this summer, I had the most alarming experience in my life. What started out to be seemingly innocent symptoms turned out to be something that is life-threatening. Even more startling is that this was essentially a medical fluke, as I had none of the usual associated risk factors. This experience made me reflect in numerous ways, especially on how I conduct my life in regards to healthy living.

Prior, I was the typical stressed-out grad student doing grad student things (in my case, I was a culprit of all three of the bad habits listed above, usually against my better judgment). Being an avid distance runner as well as a competitive athlete in various sports, I assumed my body had impunity from serious illness, and thus expected it to endure my poor lifestyle choices. Evidently, this was not the case.

Moving forwards, I aim to achieve a healthy balance between work and life. This, I believe, is something that many grad students struggle with. All of us will have our own personalized version of this balance, and it might take time and experimenting to establish it. But putting in the effort is definitely worth it for your well-being. If you ever need consulting, the Graduate Student Wellness Portal is here to help!


August 7th, 2018

Getting Involved as a Graduate Student: 3 Things I’ve Learned


Guest Blogger: Sarah Dolman

When I started out as a grad student at U of T, I was eager to find opportunities to get involved. Now, one year into my program, I’ve learned quite a few things about what it means to be involved as a graduate student! In this blog post, I’ll share some of the highlights of my experiences getting involved.

But first, let me introduce myself! My name is Sarah and I am the current Gradlife Intern. I am also a Master of Education student, studying Higher Education Student Development and Student Services. I did my first year full-time, and now I’m in my second year studying part-time while working full-time with Student Life!

Now, without further ado, here are the top 3 lessons I’ve learned about getting involved as a grad student:

  1. Make connections

I didn’t know anyone coming into my program at U of T—so, when I heard about the student association for my program, the Student Affairs Society (SAS), I decided to stop by the first open meeting! I’m so glad I did, because joining SAS meant that I would make some amazing connections with like-minded peers both in my program and working in my field. Not only have my fellow SAS members become great friends (below is a photo of some of us!)—they have also been immensely valuable as supports while I navigate being a new professional.

  1. Grow your skills

Are there any particular skills you want to develop as a grad student? For me, I wanted to get more experience planning events and managing social media. So, I looked for on-campus roles that would allow me to grow these skills: I applied to, and ended up becoming, the event coordinator for SAS and the social media coordinator for Grad Minds! Both of these were great opportunities to not only get more confident in some key skills, but also to add as experience on my resume.

  1. Know your limits

If you’re eager like me, it’s easy to want to say “yes” to all the amazing opportunities that come up. That said, we’re busy grad students and we often have a myriad of responsibilities (academic and otherwise!) that take up much of our time. So, this is my permission to you: If something comes up that you might want to do, but you feel would be too much, it’s OK to say no! Many organizations are flexible and have room for people who can only contribute a little bit, too—ask and find out!

Overall, when thinking about getting involved, my biggest piece of advice would be this: Make it intentional! Whether the purpose is to make connections, build some skills, or just have fun, think about why you want to get involved—this will help you both choose what to do, and it will help you make the most of your experience.

Looking to get involved but not sure where to go? Gradlife has a number of opportunities—check out our website here!

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