Graduate Students Must Succeed
Wrap Around Services are Needed to Fuel our #HigherEd Pro Future
Graduate Students are facing rising costs, whether they be tuition and fees, off-campus housing, or the cost of food, and other living expenses. Campus wrap-around services designed for undergraduate students are not necessarily designed for Graduate Students. And oddly enough, Graduate Students may be responsible for the delivery of said services to the undergraduate population, resulting in a heightened realization that they are left feeling adrift in a sea of resources that aren’t for them. Graduate Students who are in low or no-pay internships are finding themselves seeking gig-economy jobs such as UberEats drivers, Instacart shopping and other such avenues for needed cash. These jobs are appealing due to the ‘make your own’ hours of flexibility, but result in other costs - disconnection from the very academic and professional opportunities that are only available on campus and so important in Graduate School programs.
Graduate Students report that they find themselves pressed to find off-campus housing sight-unseen in the weeks prior to their enrollment into a ‘dream’ program to find that their landlord is corrupt, their roommates that they find in an app are not reliable or that the apartment is not accessible to a supermarket unless you own a car. Most campuses find themselves in some of the most expensive and competitive rental markets in the country, and this hits Graduate Students quite hard.
Being that I am located near the City of Boston where there are a bounty of colleges and universities, it is not uncommon for me to meet a Graduate Student in any host of locations - shops, restaurants, Lyft drivers. As I speak to them, and my own current or recent graduate students, I hear some of the same challenges come up time and time again - that the very institutions that are seeking their skills to serve undergraduate students are not meeting the very needs that would make these Graduate Students more successful in their academic and professional growth.
This is not a challenge limited to Boston or other urban centers. The experiences of Graduate Students should be of the highest priority to the Higher Education profession - we know that they are the future of the profession. But yet, we don’t acknowledge that their grad program experience may not be setting them up for success. Graduate students should be provided with the types of services that they require and which acknowledge the daily challenges that may contribute to anxiety, feeling overwhelmed or the existence of imposter syndrome.
Potential solutions may be improved access to on campus or nearby housing that is managed by the university. This would allow for students to be assigned to housing through existing mechanisms. Students could opt to live off campus, but graduate students may be open to living in on-campus accommodations, regardless of housing type (traditional dormitory, suite or apartment) knowing that there are campus offices available to manage their needs. Graduate Student specific meal plans that are adapted to the Graduate Student lifestyle including brown bag lunch options and other flexibilities would help with the food insecurity that these students are reporting. Extended hours for counseling services on campus specifically for Graduate Students acknowledges to these students that the institution knows that their hours of availability are different from that of full-time undergraduate students.
To assist with filling financial gaps, part-time employment on campus to fill the same open positions that were previously referred to in this piece could be considered. Campuses require capable individuals to provide administrative support for undergraduates, and Graduate Students are a possible fit for these roles, either temporarily or for academic year contracts. Let’s be honest, these are positions that are often left unfilled for months, resulting in poor service for students and other campus community members. The opportunity to perform administrative work - at the same rate of pay of administrative staff - could fill a service gap for departments as well as a financial one for the Graduate Students. Having these positions on-campus allows for Graduate Students to access the library, seminars, colloquium and other opportunities, without coming from off-campus or managing such events around their UberEats runs.
Such opportunities require thinking differently about what wrap-around services look like, but with solutions oriented thinking - innovative answers are out there. Bottom line we need to acknowledge that our Graduate Students must succeed - they ARE the future of the profession.
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A new “Office Hours with Dr. De Veau” will be premiering this Friday, March 24th at 1pm Eastern Time. In the second of our three Part Series of Veteran Friendly Campuses - we will be dedicating a show to the topic of Veteran access to Mental Health & Disability Services
Essential aspects of a Veteran Friendly campus include Mental Health and Disability Services that are not only offered to students but meet students where they are. The challenge may be getting Veterans to use these services. Framing mental health and disability services in ways that will encourage students to utilize these services will not only benefit Veterans but also other student populations that do not maximize these campus opportunities. My co-host, Dr. David Vacchi from the Naval War College returns along with Dr. Janine Wert, LICSW Director Veterans' Services At the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Dr. Laura De Veau is Principal & Founder of Fortify Associates, LLC. Fortify Associates, LLC is unique in the higher education, not-for-profit, and public service market. They provide comprehensive workshops, program reviews and project management services with a combination of in-person and virtual delivery. Fortify Associates is committed to creating experiences that are unique to the needs and culture of each of their clients. Fortify Associates wants to elevate your organization and help you optimize your workplace. Book your Summer and Fall Training Programs and Services Now! Follow Laura De Veau on Linked In and Post.news
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