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.

Person at bus shelter waitingWorried about careers after graduation?  Book an individual appointment with a Career Educator and check out the career offerings for grad students throughout the year such as Flexible Futures. Check out the online chat that allows you to connect with the centre remotely for information about their services, helpful resources and appointment scheduling.  The Graduate Dossier Service (GDS) for Doctoral and Post-Doc students acts as a depository for confidential letters of reference and/or transcripts which can then be forwarded to institutions offering academic employment as requested by the student.


Stressed 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 offered on St. George campus.

Hand signing letterAnxious about asking for a reference letter?  Here are some tips on asking for that all important letter and some thoughts on the importance of developing strategic professional relationships outside of your university rather than relying 100% on a reference from your supervisor.

Calculator, pen and financial statementDealing with complicated finances?  Consider talking confidentially to a financial counsellor at the SGS Graduate Awards Office (more than awards!).  If your finances or funding concerns are related to family events or responsibilities, you can make an appointment to talk to the Family Care Office or check out the office’s drop-in hours and events.  SGS has support for grads planning on taking parental leave.

ornate roomPreparing an academic appeal?  Check out the academic advocacy services provided by the UTGSU (U of T 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 or compassionate reasons may also be able to get advice from Downtown Legal Services (DLS).

Apartment buildingHaving trouble with a roommate or landlord (on or off campus)?  Take a look at the resources on the Student Life Housing Services website. Downtown Legal Services can assist tenants in raising concerns, negotiating with a landlord and with applications before the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  Mediation for housing disagreements is also a great option: check out the free services provided by St. Stephen’s Community Mediation and the Osgoode Mediation Clinic.

Earth from spaceInternational student or grad student interested in doing research abroad?  Connect with one of the Transition Advisors for Graduate Students at the Centre for International Experience (CIE).  The Graduate Centre for Academic Communication (GCAC) [formerly ELWS] 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 coordinate grad writing groups too!).   SGS has Thesis & Dissertation Writing Support resources as well.  Get tips from this Time Management video (2016 YouTube: King’s University College, Western). The Academic Success Centre has also launched an online chat that allows you to connect with the centre remotely for information about their services, helpful resources and appointment scheduling.

University doorwayBelieve 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 logoWant information about any UofT student services?  ASK ME!

OR about conflict resolution in the university context with emphasis on graduate studies?
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.

NLogo for Steps to Justiceeed legal information or advice?  Steps to Justice helps people in Ontario to understand and take action to deal with their 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 CRC Manager to discuss conflict resolution best practices. We can help you to navigate a way forward!

Listen to current graduate students provide tips and advice on their grad experience:

Real Grad Talk (October 31, 2017) G2G Peer Advisor Margeaux and fellow student Chris discuss finding balance and managing time as a graduate student on Facebook Live. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

And when you would prefer to watch Youtube:

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.