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Been There, Done That

Group of five female grad students from diverse ethnic backgrounds network over coffee

Acclimation is a process in which an individual learns about - and adjusts - to a new environment.

For those new to Mizzou, learning the nuances of graduate student life can be daunting: disciplinary norms, research ethics, required forms, teaching, work-life integration, and finding professional development opportunities. 

In an effort to help kick-start the acclimation process, the Office of Graduate Studies will be hosting New Grad Student Orientation and a Networking Event on Monday August 17, 2015 Jesse Hall (the building with the dome.) 

Advanced graduate students (who are in the best position to offer advice on graduate student life) will be on hand to answer Mizzou newcomers' questions.

Hallie J. Thompson, president of the Graduate Professional Council, provides insight: "Mizzou is a big campus, and many students never experience the whole campus. When you first arrive on campus, explore your surroundings and figure out where your academic buildings are located. Speaking as someone who has been on campus for 7 years, it is very easy to get turned around!"

Kenneth Bryant, Jr., president of the Graduate Student Association, encourages new students to take advantage of all available resources. "Embrace this new journey! Be as outgoing as your schedule permits. Join organizations, network, and make friends."

"Find out where spaces of support like MU Counseling, RSVP, Gaines Oldman Black Culture, LGBTQ Resource, Women's, MU International, and the Disability Centers exist on campus," he added. 

Beginning at 8:30 am, the Orientation session will introduce new students to University administrators, the Office of Graduate Studies' staff, and advanced graduate students.  

A Networking event immediately follows Orientation session. Student leaders and degree program representatives answer questions about navigating a the terrain of a large, public research University. 

Bryant, who is also vice president of the Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students, noted, "Being a graduate student - especially if you work in a lab or belong to a historically marginalized group - can be a very isolating experience. Left to our own devices, when we are invariably met with challenges in the forthcoming months, having a support system of colleagues is of utmost importance." 

Thompson echoed his comments. "As a new student, it is important to get involved in a graduate student group because it is easy to remain isolated in your office or lab. Getting involved allows you the opportunity to make friends and connections that you would not otherwise have made."  

Graduate Students as Peer Mentors

Bryant also pointed out that "...graduate students ARE a part of a larger community - with interests and concerns that exist in concert - across departments, disciplines, and campuses. We can, do, and must support each other. Those of us who are established will meet half-way, we just need our incoming brothers and sisters to do the same." 

Following orientation, new grad students who wish to connect with a peer mentor should contact the MU Graduate Peer Mentors program. The application deadline to request a mentor is August 31, 2015.

A final piece of advice for new grad students came from Bryant: "While your academic life is about to get rather complicated, you're now taking the first few steps to a brighter future. Accept that you are here because you belong here. It wasn't by accident or coincidence that you've been chosen to attend Mizzou."