UW Graduate School

September 26, 2019

Welcome All Graduate Students

Welcome all new and returning graduate students across the University of Washington tri-campus! You bring rich and unique experiences to the university, whether you have recently moved to Washington state from another part of the U.S. or the world, have just completed an internship, fieldwork, a fellowship, or are further along in your capstone or research project. And your lives are not just about your studies or putting in lab or teaching hours—many of you also have families and strong connections with your communities, work off and on campus, and enjoy varied hobbies and interests. You are all a vital part of the university ecosystem. As you enter the new quarter, consider the following strategies to help you get started on the right foot.

What you’re feeling is normal. Graduate school can bring up feelings of excitement, anxiety, fear, or homesickness. You are definitely not alone in this, as many of your peers have experienced similar feelings. Academia can also make you feel like you are not smart enough or capable enough (aka imposter syndrome). This is simply not true. Whenever you’re in doubt, remember that you do belong at the University of Washington. You are in graduate school to enhance or change your career, provide for your family, or make important contributions to your discipline or industry. 

Find your people. Graduate school can open up positive opportunities for your intellectual, professional, and interpersonal growth, yet it can also be challenging, stressful and isolating at times. With this in mind, we encourage you to seek out ways to connect with peers in a variety of settings. Network with peers at departmental and campus events. Join or start a local meetup group based on shared interests and connect with peers on the UW Graduate Students facebook page. Consider co-organizing a potluck with members of your cohort—you end up saving money and food always brings people together.

Take it one step at a time. For the past few weeks, you have participated in orientations, received lots of information about student resources and program requirements—and if you’re new to the Puget Sound region—navigated finding a place to live, while managing any number of daily living errands. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, pause for a moment to take a few deep breaths. Get in the habit of reminding yourself that it’s neither sustainable nor realistic to do it all right now. To organize your days and weeks, use a time management tool such as a paper planner, app, or online calendar. Break down big projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. And remember to reward yourself when you finish a task.

We hope you find these tips useful, and let us know what has worked for you!

Best Regards,

Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs

The Graduate School