Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Queen's University Queen's University
    Search Type

    Search form

    Online ‘habitat’ helps graduate students thrive

    A new Queen’s University webspace called SGS Habitat (SGS = School of Graduate Studies) aims to be a “living space” where graduate students can access resources to help navigate the unique challenges and joys of grad school, and grad life.

    [SGS Habitat]
    SGS Habitat provides links and information for graduate students as they join the Queen's and Kingston communities. (Supplied Photo) 

    “Graduate students face different challenges than undergraduates, and we want to address their distinctive needs and concerns at all stages of their graduate careers by providing guidance in a comprehensive and holistic suite of programs and services.  SGS Habitat gathers these in an online space,” says Sandra den Otter, SGS Associate Dean. 

    SGS Habitat contains themes reflecting the many elements that promote living well in grad school:

    • Staying Well provides graduate students with resources for physical and mental health. 
    • Playing features suggestions on finding a social, cultural, and/or active community.
    • Coming from Away, gives tips to ease the transition and help domestic and international students build a life in Queen’s home base of Kingston.
    • Managing includes tailored tips on handling multiple logistical challenges, from finances to housing
    • Navigating Academe introduces a broad spectrum of academic supports and resources
    • Building a Career, focuses on personal career development. 

    SGS Habitat also includes a series of rotating stories on the individual lives and careers of graduate students at Queen’s, providing a peer-to-peer learning space about flourishing in graduate school. 

    Information about upcoming events and activities, including Dissertation on the Lake, Dissertation Boot Camp and Graduate and Post-Doctoral Career Week, are also highlighted.

    “Graduate students are an integral part of our institutional identity, and we want them to know that they have a community backing them,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean, SGS. “SGS Habitat is a ‘place’ where they can go to discover strategies, supports, and useful tips for thriving and flourishing at Queen’s – essentially a go-to place for resources and information to enhance the graduate experience.”

    The site gives information for meeting challenges head-on, such as managing time and working through procrastination, managing supervisor relationships, staying connected (aka combatting loneliness), dealing with the ebbs and flows of graduate life, and transitions to post-degree life. 

    “In creating this online space, we wanted to be transparent about the challenges and stresses graduate students experience. Yes, grad school can, at times, be stressful.  It’s normal as students find themselves outside of their comfort zone and it also can be invigorating in moderation,” says Dr. den Otter. “It pushes us – gives us drive to do the important work of creating new knowledge and making discoveries. Students need to be supported. SGS Habitat gives them a community they can use to grow in the university environment.” 

    Drs. den Otter and Brouwer both emphasize that SGS Habitat is a “living space,” which means it will evolve and grow, with information and resources added in response to the ever-changing needs of Queen’s graduate students. The SGS will be continually fine-tuning to keep it relevant and meaningful for students, and invites comments and suggestions.

    If you have questions or would like to contribute to SGS Habitat, contact Rebecca Hügler, Coordinator, Communications and Post-Doctoral Training, SGS.