7 Keys to Success in Graduate School

1. Be proactive – taking responsibility for your grad school experience

  • Be your own “project manager” – take initiative to get what you need from your program/supervisor/committee
  • Look for (or create) opportunities to help you get what you want from graduate school
  • Continue the mental transition from waiting for direction to charting your own course

2. Establish positive relationships with your supervisor + others

  • Seek regular contact with your supervisor. Make your time together productive.
  • Follow up on items discussed in meetings – keep your supervisor(s) informed of your progress and challenges
  • Act as a “junior colleague” – ask questions, advance ideas, show interest and support for shared goals
  • Deal with problems sooner rather than later

3. Embrace the wider academic community

  • Don’t isolate – reach out within and beyond your program to find collaborators and community. Most research is global!
  • Get out there! Look into research mobility grants; present at conferences ($500 available to every grad student to present at a conference via Graduate Student Travel Fund)
  • Become involved with University activities beyond your own work – seminars, committees, events

4. Develop effective project management strategies

  • Know your program requirements, and set a “Master Plan” for achieving milestones – revisit as needed. Set deadlines
  • Structure your time and efforts – develop a regular work schedule that works for you
  • Schedule regular meetings with your supervisor and committee to keep things moving along
  • Stay focused on your goals. Reduce distractions wherever possible

5. Plan for various career paths

  • There are (usually) many options…explore, then hone in on what seems most interesting to you
  • Build both specific and diverse skills for possible careers. Watch for offerings through the Graduate Pathways to Success program, your department, and elsewhere
  • Develop a network of positive contacts
  • Engage with the wider UBC + Vancouver communities

6. Prevent + Deal with problems




Supervision Clarify expectations early; develop shared goals Good communications; seek help from Graduate Advisor or G+PS
Academic Progress Clarify expectations early; set and stick to plan Reflect on goals, seek help early from supervisor or Graduate Advisor
Financial Plan ahead; make a budget Seek help from program of ESP advisor in Brock Hall
Personal Good self-care; connect with others; watch for early trouble signs Reach out to those who care; Counselling Services
Academic Misconduct Learn about plagiarism & research ethics, get support when feeling pressured ???

7. Seek balance + support in your life

  • Stay connected to friends and family outside school
  • Eat well, sleep consistently, exercise regularly
  • Reach out to those around you – staff, faculty members, and especially students who can help you through the tough times
  • Keep grad school in perspective – be a finisher!