April 22, 2010
by Meredith Dault
Being a graduate student can be stressful at the best of times. Besides attending lectures, writing papers and giving presentations, there's important reading and thinking to be done. And don't forget the socializing! Keeping all those balls in the air at once takes a variety of different skills - as well as a deft understanding of time management!
The Expanding Horizons workshops are designed to help graduate students navigate the ins and outs of life beyond the classroom. The workshops, which are offered through the Queen's Learning Commons teach everything from strategies for effective reading and writing, to library research skills, stress management, overcoming procrastination, and tips for giving great presentations, as well as valuable skills like revising and editing at the graduate level.
The workshops, which are offered through the Centre for Teaching and Learning, The Writing Centre, Learning Strategies Development and the Libraries are taught by professional learning strategy counsellors, librarians, writing tutors and graduate student co-facilitators, and are designed to improve the graduate school experience.
The workshops offered through Learning Strategies Development, for example, tackle topics like effective reading and time management and self-regulation issues (things like stress and motivation). "The big thing across the board is anxiety," says Barbara Fretz, a learning strategies counselor at Queen's. "Students say they feel stressed, overwhelmed...that they don't have enough time or they can't get started." That's why in the stress management workshop, for example, students practice valuable exercises like calming breath and awareness activities -- to help cope with stress.
The workshops, which are usually free (except for workshops offered through Learning Strategies, which cost $2), are offered on topics graduate students have said they need. "Students have determined that these are areas where they have skill deficits, and these are practical, hands-on strategies that give people concrete skills," says Fretz. "They also normalize what people are going through. They give people a forum where students can share their ideas and also feel like they aren't weird...they aren't feeling like ‘I'm the only one who isn't getting this."
As Fretz points out, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the graduate school experience, but the more coping skills you can gather along the way, the better.
For a complete list of Expanding Horizons workshops, visit http://www.queensu.ca/sgs/academicsupport/expandinghorizons.html
Further articles on Expanding Horizons, will explore Queen's University International Centre, Career Services and other social/health support services.