The First Few Months of Grad School: What You Need to Know (Part II)

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

I’m sure you are anticipating the second part to my blog post–so, here it is!

#7  Balance your time to “hit the books” and to “hit the gym” 

Living a healthy lifestyle is important—and it’s not just your overall physical health that I’m talking about, it’s also your emotional and mental health! Exercising and meditating are excellent strategies to relieve the stresses of assignments and readings. As a UofT student you also have access to the numerous gym facilities around campus—there are also mindfulness workshops that you can participate in if you feel like meditating! Take part in an intramural, dance with our Zumba instructors, or maybe workout at one of the many gym facilities you have access to with a swipe of your T-Card. There are so many things to do on campus to get you active and to help you to de-stress from all those readings, assignments, and lectures. The best part of it is that all our facilities and so are our fitness classes are all part of your tuition!!

#8 Don’t be afraid to approach your professors 

Sometimes, talking to professors can get intimidating and it is as if though approaching them may not seem to be the best idea at first. In my personal experience with OISE professors, they are very open to talking over assignments and readings with you one-on-one. Remember, the last thing they want to see you to do is not do well in your assignments. Establish a rapport with all your professors—ask them questions about things discussed in class, their take on a current event related to your class, or even just by saying hello to them in the hallways. They are also easily accessible by email. Professors also play an important role if you want to further your education in doctoral studies, especially as references or possibly as mentors for your specific field of research. Again, networking is super important when you are in grad school—so take a hold on all those opportunities in front of you.

#9 Get Out of Your Comfort Zone 

From the first time I stepped into a university to becoming a grad student, I feel like I’ve grown and accomplished so much, but it’s all thanks to stepping outside of my comfort zone. There’s this saying going around that “life happens outside of your comfort zone”. And I think that this is completely relevant, especially in grad school, where your limits are really pushed! You definitely have to step outside of your comfort zone in class discussions, presentations, or even when you are at one of OISE’s many events and workshops. It’s really important to recognize that this is all part of your learning. When I first started at OISE, I was a little apprehensive, because I didn’t know anyone in my program and I didn’t know what to expect when I got here. But as the first few weeks progressed, I met so many new people and I’ve become attuned to my surroundings! Just remember, you might feel a little nervous at first, but once you get started, all your worries will disappear—it all takes time getting used to.

#10 Get Support When You Need It 

Whether you are stressing out about a paper or stressing about what to do after school—OISE has got your back! There are so many student support services available to all of our students! For example, if you need help writing a paper, you may find it useful to go to OISE’s Student Success Centre and get help with your paper or perhaps you can go to OISE’s library if you are having trouble with research. You can also head over to various departments or OISE’s Office of the Registrar and Student Services to seek assistance for your particular situation. When you first step into OISE as a student, you already know that there is a huge network of support that you can access!

#11 Say Yes to Everything  

I attended a UTM convocation ceremony where Bob McDonald, the host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, was the guest speaker. I always remember his convocation speech , because it was not only enlightening, but it also rang true to me! He said that when an opportunity presents itself to you, you always have to say yes, because you don’t know where it will take you. He went from being a construction worker to a teacher at the Ontario Science Centre and now to a host for one of CBC Radio’s popular programs. He credits all his success to keeping an open mind and saying yes to opportunities that were given to him. So, I took his wisdom and applied it to my own journey and I must say, I have grown so much as an individual and as a learner. At your time at OISE, just say yes to all the opportunities that are available to you, because you really don’t know where it will lead to. So in the words of Bob McDonald, “Just say yes!”

#12 Make the best out of your program

To put this blog post into simple terms—make the best out of your program! You may only be here for a year and a half or possibly more, but something you must keep in mind is that it is important to make sure that you take advantage of all the services and extra-curriculars while you are here. In doing so, you will enhance your university experience and at the same time, meet so many people along the way. I assure you that your time at OISE will fly, but just make sure you enjoy your time and here and be resourceful with all the things available to you.

So, this concludes my extensive list on all things that helped me get through my first few months of grad school. I hope that sharing this will help you to start off in the right track when you get to OISE and to also to get a sense of what to expect when you first get here.

Do you have anything that you want to know about other things about grad school? Comment below!

Questions? Email me oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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