At times, graduate study may seem to be an isolating endeavor. Isolation, whether from other students or one's home community, is a difficulty all graduate students face at one time or another.
If it goes unchecked, isolation can lead to loneliness and self-doubt, or, in more severe cases, to depression or dropping out. Depending on the discipline, students from historically underrepresented groups or women might feel more isolated than other students, especially if the composition of students, faculty, and content in the department is highly homogenous.
- Ask advanced graduate students and faculty to introduce you to peers and potential mentors with complementary interests, whether academic or personal.
- Attend as many departmental functions as you are able. Offer to organize functions or form groups (e.g., interest, study, or writing groups) to become known as a contributor to department life.
- Invite mentors to join these activities when appropriate.
- Be aware of students who seem to find it difficult to take active roles in academic or social settings and find ways to include them. Take the initiative to talk with them by asking about their research interests, hobbies, and activities outside of school.
- Get involved with the wealth of organizations within or outside the University that can increase your sense of community, such as cultural and religious groups, reading groups, and professional associations.
- Encourage students to attend departmental functions and form study or writing groups.
- Be aware of students who seem to experience difficulty taking active roles in departmental settings and find ways to include them. Ask them about their research interests, hobbies, activities, and avocations.
- Introduce your students to others with complementary interests, regardless of their background.
- Remind students of the wealth of organizations on and off campus that provide a sense of community, e.g., cultural and religious groups, reading groups, professional associations, and varied resources of the Office of Graduate Studies.