New Graduate Student Orientation kicked off on Sept. 23 with a warm welcome from Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti. She encouraged graduate students to maximize their time at UC Santa Barbara, and introduced many of the Graduate Division's resources dedicated to this end. “How can you live a rich and productive life here to fuel your success and reach your career goals?” she asked.
Dean Genetti praised UCSB’s graduate programs, citing the success of graduate-level research as a crucial factor in UCSB achieving its recent ranking as a top public university. “Graduate students are making the discoveries we are known for,” she said. She emphasized the “very competitive” nature of graduate admissions and that only “the best” are selected.
“How can you live a rich and productive life here to fuel your success and reach your career goals?”
–Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti
Genetti encouraged incoming students to build a network of a wide variety of mentors across campus, and to be a mentor for others. “The boundaries between all of the departments on campus are porous,” she explained. “There are no two units that don’t collaborate on research here.” Genetti emphasized that students can get involved across campus and cited the 16 Interdisciplinary Doctoral Emphases as one avenue to do so.
Dean Genetti also highlighted some key resources for graduate students. She displayed helpful sections of the Graduate Division website, including the Academic Services and Career and Professional Development pages. She encouraged all to get involved in the annual Graduate Student Showcase, the centerpiece of which is the Grad Slam.
In addition to professional resources, Genetti encouraged new students to live a well-rounded life, taking advantage of our beautiful campus, nearby beach, sports and recreation, cultural life, and all UCSB and Santa Barbara have to offer. She mentioned her favorite California trips outside of Santa Barbara, including the famous Mendocino Redwoods and San Francisco.
In closing, Genetti encouraged students to frame their graduate experience in a positive way: "See your time here as a steppingstone to a productive professional life," she suggested.
Keynote Address: Thrive in Grad School
In his keynote address, Turi Honegger, Clinical Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, emphasized that grad students shouldn't get caught up in the pressure to work an 80-plus-hour week: "You can also be a person in grad school," he said. He shared research proving that a well-developed “approach for balance” leads to higher quality work.
He admitted that graduate school is stressful, but you can channel that stress in a way that propels you forward and motivates you. He quoted an ancient Nordic saying, as well as explained his "Three Pillars of Thriving in Grad School."
Three Pillars of Thriving in Grad School:
- Know thy self. What drives you? Where does your motivation for graduate school come from? When do you trust yourself or second-guess yourself? How much structure versus non-structure? What are your healthy coping mechanisms and what are your unhealthy coping mechanisms?
- Relationships. Stay in touch with friends and family. Remember the difference between Formal Authority vs. Personal Power: We all have personal power even if your formal position in the department is the newest person there. Create intentional community: Think about who you really want to get to know, to meet some folks who you really like.
- Physical health and mental wellness. Forty hours a week of consistent work has shown to be more effective long term than a 60-hour week.
“What we attend to becomes our reality.”
–Ancient Nordic saying, presented by Dr. Turi Honegger
Dr. Honegger then moderated a panel composed of five graduate students. The grad students shared personal reflections to help new students and fielded audience questions. Graduate students on the panel were: Dan Boulos, Theater and Dance; Matt Gebbie, Materials; Jennifer Guerrero, Chemical Engineering; Samantha Powers, Communication; and Wu Ti, Education.
Advice From Graduate Student Panel:
- Budgeting: Form a good system for budgeting your income.
- Staying connected: Make an effort to get out and be around peers. It's important to counteract the social isolation and long hours of working alone inherent to many graduate programs. Try working in a local coffee shop.
- Time management: Do what works for you. This may mean keeping typical hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., for example, or varying hours according to when you can be most productive. Don't compare yourself to others, or the amount of time they seem to be working.
- Maintaining balance: Make use of the Recreation Center and its programs. Stay active by running and biking in the area, joining a team, or enjoy the ocean. Many of the panelists made time to work out first thing every morning. Walk around the labyrinth on campus, or explore hiking in the area.
- Avoid a propensity to over-commit yourself: You don’t have to do it all now – you will have years to take advantage of all opportunities. You can get involved in extracurricular activities after fully adjusting to student life.
- Career goals: It’s OK to realize that the non-academic path is not necessarily your end goal. You can be open to putting your Ph.D. to work in other ways.
- Wellness: Use CAPS as a resource and refer stressed peers to CAPS when it seems needed.
Introduction to Campus Resources
Student Health Plan (Gaucho Health Insurance):
- Primary care visits, labs, X-ray, drop-in Urgent Care (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays) are available for no charge at UCSB Student Health.
- There is no charge for Advice Nurses or the 24-hour Nurseline.
- A full pharmacy is available, as well as referrals to outside specialty doctors (Aetna Network).
- For services outside of those on campus, the health plan carries a $400 annual deductible, $200 emergency room co-pay, and 80 percent coverage in-network (50 percent otherwise).
- Co-pay for outside specialty visits: $25; $15 mental health, but first three visits are free (Student Health or CAPS can provide referrals to community therapists).
- UCSB's library features graduate student only study areas; pick up key at the service desk.
- Construction on new library is in progress, and is set to open Jan. 4, 2016.
- A lot is online now on UCSB's databases, but you should still visit the library at least once during your career here!
Student Affairs and the Graduate Students Association (GSA):
Associate Dean of Students Don Lubach and Aaron Jones, President of GSA, encouraged us to engage in the campus community. GSA resources include:
- GSA Grants: Conference Travel Grant, Emergency Relief Grant, Child Care Grant, and Event Co-Sponsorships
- Awards: GSA Excellence in Teaching Award (cash award), Dixon-Levy GSA Service Award
- The GSA Lounge, a place to study and relax every Monday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free coffee and tea are available daily, and grad student groups can use the space for their events.
- Bagel Hour, every Wednesday morning in the GSA lounge, with free bagels, coffee, and tea.
- Get Involved: Go to a GSA meeting, represent your department, and get free dinner for yourself and money for your department. Or serve on a campus committee and get a stipend.
In the final half hour of the orientation, we heard from Dave Whitman regarding the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity's services. Habiba Simjee detailed the role of Undocumented Student Services and her work as Counsel for the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center.
Finally, Robert Hamm, Director of Graduate Student Professional Development for the Graduate Division, briefly discussed the Graduate Student Resource Center and introduced the graduate peers. Stop by the GSRC office in Student Resource Building 1215 to gain help with funding, writing, and professional development.
Dean Genetti made closing remarks and the now well-informed graduate students headed out to a delicious catered lunch on the Campus Green.
"See your time here as a steppingstone to a productive professional life."
– Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti