Yes, they exist! McGill’s resources for students parents

McGill Family Care Program/ Facebook

McGill Family Care Program/ Facebook

 

As I said, I started a PhD with a 5-months baby at home. I thought I was alone in the world (ok, on the campus), but no! Last year, I don’t remember how, I learned that McGill has just created the Family Care Program. Because students parents are maybe not a big part of the McGill community, but they are certainly not a few, even if they are hard to track.

So I asked the new Family Coordinator, Julia Pingeton, a few questions about the program. I hope it will help other students parents.

Why does the Family Care Program exist?

The Family Care Program exists at McGill because the Senate Subcommittee on Women saw the need for someone dedicated to serving student and staff needs. There has always been someone working on family issues with the faculty at McGill, as the faculty relocation advisor, but there was very little in terms of support for students and staff. They got support from many other groups involved in family care and were able to fund a grant for this position for two years! This program aims to connect students and staff with children with resources on campus and in the greater Montreal community.

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The Writer’s Toolkit: 14 things that could change how you feel about writing

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Somewhere between now and forever. That sounds about right. Isn’t that the gist of your reply to family members and friends who just don’t get why you’re still a PhD student? So much has changed in the world, and you’re still at it. I mean, how long does it take to write a thesis? Just write it already!

But you know, and I know, and Cecilia knows — it’s not that simple.

Or is it?

Unbeknownst to him, my supervisor gave some stellar advice in one plain sentence, a few weeks ago. Although this advice was not directly meant for me, and was part of a general conversation about papers and publications, it’s something I took to heart and have applied ever since: “Just sit down and write it – tell yourself you are going to work for this amount of hours, and sit there and write it”. Just sit down – best advice ever, because it made me concretely realize that writing is not challenging due to a lack of inspiration, but due to a lack of focus. If you give yourself the time and the space to do nothing else but work on writing, there will be no shortage of ideas, arguments, counterarguments and – eventually – words on the page.

I have been writing my thesis full time for two weeks. Every day. The encouraging thing is that it seems to get easier and easier, as does anything after copious amounts of practice.

I think what one needs is a “writer’s toolkit” – some strategies that work for you, that you can stick to, and that can serve as a comfortingly familiar routine, to help ensure your success on this writing mission.

Here is my toolkit:

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You’ll never walk alone: Valuable resources for graduate students at McGill

One aspect of our graduate student life at McGill that truly stands out as exemplary to me is the sheer number of resources in place to buttress our burgeoning professional careers. I am amazed that, even as a senior PhD student, I am constantly finding out about organizations, workshops and tools that I did not know of the year before. We are blessed to have such an incredible framework of support at our university, and to have a wealth of information and support right at our fingertips. I’ve compiled a list of valuable resources for students who currently are or soon will be enrolled in a graduate program at McGill. In here is basic information I found out about when I first arrived, as well as information I found out about just last week! I hope that many of you will benefit from this information and will know where to turn when in need of more.

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All in one room: A day just for PhD students

Another academic year has begun – offices and labs in our department are populated again, classrooms are actually being used, and there is a pretty good chance that you will have to wait in line for the photocopy machine (and, of course, the washroom). Despite the fact that, come September, our department is filled with people – the lull of the summer months already light-years behind us – it does not necessarily mean that PhDs and post-docs spend much time catching up. In fact, it seems likely that the amount of time spent socializing actually decreases proportionally to the number of years spent in the PhD program.  After all, our tasks become more time-consuming and complex, our deadlines more terrifying, and our interests more narrowly focused. So isn’t it natural that, after a while, we dart straight to our little corner in our lab, do our work and head home, limiting our social interactions to brief hi’s and bye’s in the hallways, instead of more substantial “what are you working on these days” conversations? We may even work from home a lot of the time. Isolation may eventually become a natural way of maximizing our time, staying in control of our productivity and keeping the eyes focused on the finish line.

However, it is obvious that much can be gained by interacting with our peers; the PhD is an intense journey at a point in our lives where we have many other priorities to juggle, and – try as we might to get them to relate – our significant others and family members won’t always see where we are coming from, and how despaired we might be feeling at times.

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