Tips & Advice





Are you a grad student who is…

Work harder neon signConcerned about your supervision? Review the SGS Guidelines for Supervision of Graduate Students.  Read G2G Natalie P.’s guest blog: Student-Supervisor Relationships and What to Do in Times of Conflict (March 2016 Gradlife Blog).  Book an appointment to talk to a G2G Peer Advisor; no issue is too small to discuss.

Looking to enhance your professional skills? The Graduate Professional Skills program focuses on a range of topics and skills development to help you communicate better, plan and manage your time, learn entrepreneurial skills, understand and apply ethical practices, and work effectively in teams and as leaders.  Mitacs workshops are free for current graduate students. is another free online resource for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and check out the array of articles and videos in the MaRS Library (on topics such as: communication, negotiating and resolving disputes). Read how grad students can be strategic about developing 5 Professional Skills

Person at bus shelter waitingWorried about careers after graduation?  Book a 1:1 appointment with a Career Educator and or take advantage of the career offerings for grad students  such as Flexible Futures or the online chat tool .  The Graduate Dossier Service (GDS) for PhDs and Post-Docs acts as a depository for confidential letters of reference/ transcripts which can then be forwarded to academic institutions upon request.

MicrophoneStressed out about applying for a grant or speaking at a conference? Register for one of the writing grant proposals workshops offered for ALL grads through the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication (GCAC) [formerly ELWS].  Consider mindfulness training to manage stress – visit for a list of free mindfulness classes on St. George campus.

Hand signing letterAnxious about asking for a reference letter?  This article presents some points on asking for that all important professional reference.  Also read how to develop strategic professional relationships outside your university.

Calculator, pen and financial statementDealing with complicated finances? Talk confidentially to a financial counsellor at the SGS Graduate Awards Office (more than awards!).  If your concerns relate to family events or responsibilities, talk to the Family Care Office or check out their drop-in hours and events.  SGS has support for grads planning on taking parental leave. The Financial Planning Calculator tool can help you to predict how much it will cost to live in Toronto (customizable by program, year of study, residency status and campus.)

ornate roomPreparing an academic appeal?  Check out the academic advocacy services provided by the UTGSU (Graduate Students’ Union) and the information on appeals on the SGS website. Students seeking to overturn a grade decision or a denial of a request to defer exams or late withdrawal from courses for medical/compassionate reasons may be able to get advice from Downtown Legal Services (DLS).

Apartment buildingHaving trouble with a roommate or landlord (on or off campus)?   Housing Services has resources on their website or Downtown Legal Services can assist tenants in raising concerns, negotiating with a landlord and with Landlord & Tenant Board and the Ont. Human Rights Tribunal applications.  Mediation for housing disagreements is a great option: free services from St. Stephen’s Community Mediation and Osgoode Mediation Clinic.

Earth from spaceAn international student or grad student interested in doing research abroad?  Connect with a Transition Advisor for Graduate Students at the Centre for Int’l Experience (CIE).  The Graduate Centre for Academic Communication (GCAC) runs workshops for students whose primary language is not English on topics such as Strategies for Making Requests in Academic Settings .

computer with time displayStruggling with writing or time management? Reserve a Writing Centre consultation (limited space) or talk to a Learning Strategist at the Academic Success Centre (they run grad writing groups too!).   SGS has Thesis & Dissertation Writing Support resources or watch this Time Management video (2016 Western). Connect with Academic Success Centre via online chat  info about services, resources & appointments.

University doorwayFeeling that a university process or decision is unfair?  Contact the U of T Ombudsperson – confidential, independent and impartial services for U of T students, staff and faculty (& they have Skype as well!).

Ask Me Anything about U of T logoLooking for general information about U of T services or about conflict resolution in the university context with emphasis on graduate studies?

ASKme (link to left)
UBC Graduate School Personal & Professional Effectiveness Resources
Ryerson – Group Work Dealing with Conflicts
Tufts University – Conflict in the lab etc.

57 Ways (Not) to Screw up in Grad School cover of bookWondering how & why grad students “screw up”?  Read this tongue-in-cheek book to learn about a variety of tips and tricks to help students to succeed and flourish in graduate school through the use of personal anecdotes and thoughtful advice from REAL supervisors.

In nLogo for Steps to Justiceeed of legal information or advice?  Steps to Justice helps people in Ontario understand and take action to deal with  legal problems with comprehensive online information on common legal problems that people experience in family, housing, employment and other areas of law.  U of T students can also contact Downtown Legal Services.

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Dealing with any grad school issue (big or small)? Students can book an appointment or drop-by to talk to a G2G Peer Advisor.   Faculty and staff are welcome to connect confidentially with the  Grad CRC Manager to discuss conflict resolution best practices. We can help you to navigate a way forward!


And when you would prefer to watch Youtube or Facebook Video:

3 Part Facebook Video Skit Series “Sticky Situations”Watch G2G Peer Advisors act out a skit on 3 common graduate conflicts- 1:Career Goals and Supervision, 2: The True Nature of Authorship and 3:The Challenges of Placements and Practicums

Facebook LIVE: Jan 2018-G2G Secrets – Watch Grad CRC’s Facebook LIVE team as they discuss secrets on Surviving Grad School

Facebook LIVE: Dec 2017- Motivation and Gaining Perspective for the New Year  2018-  G2G Margeaux and Sam held our first ever Grad CRC Facebook LIVE following on from the GradLife Optimize Week #RealGradTalk.

A person with a conflict is like a hurricane. Libby Mahaffy, Assistant Director for Conflict Management at MIT discusses what it means to be a support person and how to support people experiencing crisis or conflict. (2:27)  We recommend the transcript in lieu of the video’s closed captioning [CC]: The Hurricane Transcript .

Negotiation is a skill you can learn.  Michael Erdle, Managing Director of Deeth Williams Wall LLP, highlights five key strategies for successful negotiation and conflict management. (4:40) Play video to select closed captioning [CC].

Take the time to listen.  At this local, independent TEDx event, William Ury, Co-author of “Getting to Yes” explains how listening is the essential, and often overlooked, half of communication. (15:40) Play video to select closed captioning [CC].

Try to stay in the moment. Mindfulness is about maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. [CC].

Motivation matters – moving from “what” to “why”.  In this video about the distinction between interests and positions, Bruce Patton explores the concepts developed in Getting to Yes, by Roger Fisher and William Ury.  He focusses on the importance of looking for solutions that best address the interests of both sides (4:12). We recommend the transcript in lieu of the video’s closed captioning [CC]: Getting to Yes Transcript.

Are you a faculty or staff member looking to prevent or manage conflict….

Stylized people with speech bubblesGraduate supervision = effective communication. These two short articles for faculty by Helene Wagner et al. (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UTM) provide strategies for communicating effectively in graduate supervision and preventing conflict:

Hand signing letter


Writing reference letters for your grad students? See these articles from Queen’s University and McGill.

Bridging the Divide Between Faculty and Administration book coverA conflict can have many layers. This book analyzes common sources of conflict and challenges on campus that impede attempts to address these conflicts, and provides a theory-driven and research-based approach for authentic discourse between faculty and administration.