Western Graduate & Postdoctoral  Studies

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Graduate School is often referred to as a “Balancing Act”. On top of studying, researching, and teaching, graduate students have a number of other responsibilities and commitments outside the academe. Managing increasing financial, time, and everyday life challenges—while staying healthy—may often require additional support and resources. The resources listed below can help you stay on track.

Planning

Whether you’re arriving in London for the first time, or if you’re about to enter a different stage in the program, it’s important to keep track of your academic and living expenses.

The below figures are based on 2016 tuition rates. They represent cost of living in a 12-month period for a single adult living in London (in Canadian dollars), and are likely to increase slightly each year based on inflation and extenuating circumstances. It is important to note that costs depend on a number of factors, including a student’s program, familial situation, and personal needs. The figures presented in this table therefore could be considerably higher or lower depending on the individual student.

estimated_costs

*If you already have your own Extended Health Care Plan (not OHIP or UHIP), you can opt-out of the Society of Graduate Student (SOGS) Health & Dental Plan. If you would like to opt-in a spouse or partner in the plan, you can do so via an opt-in form. To find out more information about opting out and opting in, visit the SOGS website.

**As stated above, a student’s tuition is dependent on their particular program. For a detailed list of graduate student program tuition fees, please see the registrar’s website.

Funding

For information on funding support, please see Student Finances.

Presentations and Workshops

Learning Skills
Good time management skills are often crucial to your success as a graduate student. Once per term, Learning Skills offers a Time Management presentation for graduate students on planning and organizational strategies and explores ways to increase motivation and productivity. Register HERE.

MITACS
MITACS Step workshops are offered online throughout the year and at universities around the country. As a graduate student, you are able to take these courses for free. One of these online courses includes Time Management. Register HERE for the next workshop.

The Teaching Support Centre (TSC)
Each year in the Fall, the TSC hosts TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching.  This one-day conference introduces graduate students to teaching at Western University and helps them prepare for their roles as teaching assistants. Join TSC staff and award-winning professors to learn about facilitating discussions in tutorials, helping undergraduate students in laboratory settings, dealing with difficult students, and much more!

Support Services

Learning Skills
Graduate students can book an appointment with a Learning Skills Counsellor to help improve their time management skills. To book an appointment, visit Learning Skills in the Student Development Centre (WSS Room 4100) or by calling 519-661-2183.

Resources

Learning Skills has an online Resource Tip Sheet for managing your time in Graduate School.

Transitioning to Graduate School

SGPS
The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies hosts the official Graduate Fall Orientation for incoming Western graduate students in early September. Orientation is a time for you as a new graduate student to familiarize yourself wth Western and find answers to any questions you might have.  Various Western services are on-hand to jump-start your graduate experience.

Learning Skills
Transitioning to graduate school can be exciting, but also challenging. Learning Skills offers a workshop on this transition every year in late September. The workshop focuses on the expectations and demands of graduate level work, the skills needed for success as a graduate student, and the various strategies and resources that will help you better manage your progress through graduate school. Registration for this workshop usually opens during the first week of classes.  

How to Survive Your First Year of Graduate School
Nanda Dimitrov, the associate director of Western’s Teaching Support Centre, discusses the importance of recognizing the five stages of academic culture shock and offers five tips in Part II of her Academic Culture Shock article on how to survive your transition into graduate school. 

Stress, Anxiety, and Emotions

Psychological Services – 519-661-2031

Individual Counselling – 519-661-3031
Psychological Services offers targeted, brief, change-oriented counselling. Counsellors support students facing various issues such as (but not limited to): anxiety, depression, grief, relationships, and adjustment to university. To book an appointment, call or visit them: Western Student Services Building, Room 4100. They also offer walk-in sessions during the Winter and Spring exam periods.

Managing Anxiety and Stress Group
This is a psycho-educational group designed to facilitate coping with academic and personal stress. Discussion topics will include effective coping, building a coping repertoire, time management, and self-care. This group is open to all students. Registration for this group can be found online.

Mood and Anxiety Management Group
This group is primarily educational, with the focus on learning and practicing management skills for the experience of anxiety and/or depressive moods. Topics will include understanding mood and anxiety, shifting unhelpful thoughts, and behavioural strategies that are helpful in managing mood and anxiety issues. In addition, self-care, goal setting and sleep hygiene will be discussed. Registration for this group can be found online.

Emotion Regulation Group
This group is designed to help employ skills for understanding and managing emotions. Discussion topics will include means of coming to understand emotions, reducing emotional vulnerability as well as means of decreasing emotional suffering. Registration for this group can be found online.

Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness is defined by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn as a process of paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. Participants in the group will develop a non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment to help reduce stress, improve concentration, and gain a clear understanding of emotions. Registration for this group can be found online.

Healthy Communication Group
This group is designed to help maintain healthy relationships. Discussion topics will include effective communication, navigating conflict, negotiating, as well as the essential elements of healthy, functioning relationships. Registration for this group can be found online.

Public Speaking Anxiety Group
This group is designed to assist students for whom anxiety interferes with their ability to give class presentations. The group will have limited registration so that all group members will have ample opportunity to practice their presentation skills in the group setting. Registration for this group can be found online.

Laura Evans Psycho-Educational Lecture Series
Many of the above groups are offered in a 1.5-2-hour lecture/presentation format, which include talks on body satisfaction, procrastination and perfectionism, self-assertion, and introduction to distress tolerance. Registration for this series can be found online. 

Balancing Life and Graduate School

SOGS

Graduate Peer Support (GPS)
Every Wednesday from 10:30am-12:30pm, GPS offers drop-in hours at the Wellness Education Centre for graduate students. Whether you’re looking to grab some refreshments, attend a monthly GRADTalk session, or simply wanting to check-in with someone, GPS is here for you.

The Teaching Support Centre

TA Café
The TA Café is an informal gathering of graduate students to discuss rewards and challenges of teaching in their discipline. The TA Café is your chance to mingle with other TA in your faculty in a friendly and casual setting. Take some time from your hectic schedule to relax and share your ideas and concerns about teaching with other students or your café hosts – graduate student members of the TA training team. Registration is not required. All graduate students are welcome to drop in for free coffee, tea and snacks, but be sure to check online when the sessions are offered throughout the year.

Winter Conference on Teaching
Each year, the TSC hosts a conference for graduate students who are looking to improve their teaching, research, and professional development skills. Sometimes, the conference hosts a panel on Strategies for Success in Graduate School. Registration for this conference usually opens towards the end of Fall term.

The Student Success Centre (SSC)

Effective Self Management
Although this SSC workshop is not specifically designed for graduate students, it focuses on time management, being assertive, recognizing and managing stress, and staying motivated, which are all integral personal development skills for success in graduate school. To register for this workshop, you will need to log in to Western Career Central in order to see when it’s offered.

Psychological Services

Mindful Parents Group
This is a 6-week group specifically designed for students who are also parents. This group focuses on guided instruction in mindfulness meditation and yoga and includes education about mindfulness-based mood-regulation strategies as they pertain to parenting topics. The group aims to teach ways of coping with parenting stress, and in doing so, to support the healthy development of children. The group is also meant to be a setting where student parents can gain support from other student parents. Students do not need any prior experience with meditation to participate. Parents of all ages of children are welcome to participate. Registration for this group can be found online.

Talk: Talk About Life in Canada
The group provides a place to discuss and share with others the experience of being an international student at Western as well as receive information and support. This group is co-facilitated by staff from both the International and Exchange Student Centre (IESC) and the Student Development Centre (SDC). Keep an eye on the IESC’s Events page for upcoming sessions.

Child Care
Western University provides a number of child care services, including the YMCA of Western Ontario, which offers full and part-time care for children 3 months to 5 years old. There are also a number of before and after school programs for your children (kindergarten to 12 years old). Western also provides a listing of parenting resources, prenatal care, babysitting, and public/private school enrollment.

Resources

GRADUpdATE
Twice monthly, Learning Skills distributes an e-newsletter for graduate students. The newsletter contains helpful suggestions and useful information on how to succeed in graduate school. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to gradupdate-request@uwo.ca. Type “subscribe” as the subject. To access archives of past newsletters, click here.

Time and Self-Management Resources
Here are some additional resources for helping you manage your progression through graduate school.