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“Welcome! You’re now a card-carrying member of Queen’s” and “The argument from analogy: Even if the funding boat has sailed, it’s never too late to get back on the financial horse”

We’ve had a bit of a hiccup with this week’s intended SGPS post about grad Orientation, but we’ll be bringing that to you within the week. Instead, I’m bringing you a few highlights, reminders, and a reader question that could be useful for a lot of you out there.

First off, the highlight reel: the grad student welcome & resource fair happened yesterday! It was a great event and a packed house. There were fewer midway rides than one might have hoped for at a fair, but free coffee is a huge bonus and so is being able to ask a variety of experts a ton of questions (I hung out with the IT Services people for a while and asked all the tech questions I’d ever wondered). Did you go? If so, what did you think? Leave us a comment with your favourite features and your suggestions for next year.

Second, a reminder: don’t forget to pick up your student ID card if you’re an incoming student or to have it validated if you’re a returning student. All of this goes down in Wallace Hall, an oil painting-covered room smelling of rich mahoganies in the JDUC. (When you arrive at Queen’s, you will inevitably start hearing people saying something like “Jayduck.” This may lead you to believe that there’s been some sort of terrible mutant outbreak involving bluejays and waterfowl, but what they really mean is the John Deutsch University Centre, which is a hub of resources including student government offices, a copy centre, a cafeteria, and the Sexual Health Resource Centre [that’s SHRC, not to be confused with SSHRC]).

And third, an excellent reader question: we had a question emailed to us recently about the window of opportunity for funding applications. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be too unusual not to find out about the Tri-Council (SSHRC, CIHR, NSERC) and OGS awards until you’re already beginning the first year of your Master’s. When I was finishing my undergrad, there wasn’t exactly a systematic program for getting the word out about these funding opportunities and I was lucky to have a rather keen friend who mentioned that you’ve got to lasso your referees early. Referees for what, I asked? Anyway, the question, from a student going into a one-year MA, was this: “Is a student eligible to apply for the funding program within the application year to receive funding for that same year…maybe one of you will be able to elaborate on how complicated/strict/non-lenient these funding agencies can be.”

The answer? First off, always defer to the information that the funding agencies themselves give you. Second, consider the following analogy: Funding competitions are to lenience what polar bears are to tropical heat – antithetical and unable to deal. These competitions are so huge, involve so many adjudicators, and require so much time that there simply isn’t a way to accept applications and disburse funding in the same year. So these things are always ahead of time, like stores gearing up for Halloween in July.

What you can do is talk to your department to clarify what your base funding package is and to ask about possible TAships and RAships both inside and outside your program. In my Master’s I ended up working as an RA for someone in English and I held that job (which was a wonderful experience) in addition to my departmental funding package. So remember that there are all kinds of opportunities, but they can be hard to hunt down. If you find that you’ve missed the boat with regard to funding competitions, see how those lines of inquiry go, and also consider talking to the finances/awards people in the Registrar’s Office about other internal awards for which you may be eligible, or for help in navigating external award sites.

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