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Do-It-Yourself Cohort

September 10, 2012

One of the greatest strengths of our graduate program — its incredible flexibility — also poses a real challenge.

Within some broad, basic guidelines, we are free to shape our own course of study, ranging freely across disciplinary boundaries, methodologies, eras, media.  We can pursue an enormously broad range of interests, or we can structure our studies in a more focused, specialized way.  And with few specific course requirements and an incredible array of options, graduate students can count on meeting new colleagues in every class, every semester.  The fact that we are not a cohort program, but instead offer rolling admissions and part-time course loads for non-traditional students, adds to the social and intellectual dynamism of our graduate experience.

But sometimes we can miss out on the sense of camaraderie and mutual support (and suffering!) that are part of more traditional graduate programs.  If we can all pursue our own paths, we can sometimes find ourselves wondering if we’re the only one on the trail.

There’s no need to go it alone.  We may not come in as part of a cohort, but we have the flexibility to build our own networks of friendship and support.  There are lots of ways to do this.  It might mean meeting regularly for lunch with a group of students from the same class.  It might mean starting a reading group of PhD students who are all doing exam fields with the same professor.  It might mean seeking out fellow students with similar interests to put together a panel proposal for a nearby conference.  

And it might mean getting involved with the Graduate Student Association.  Every grad student in the school of Arts and Humanities is automatically a member of the GSA.  There’s no application to fill out, there’s no requirement for admission.  If you’re in the graduate program here, you’re in!  

Our monthly membership meetings, our fall and spring socials, our impromptu gatherings, and our outstanding graduate student conference held each spring — all of these GSA-sponsored events provide opportunities for you to meet and mingle with fellow grad students whose paths might never otherwise cross yours.  Participating in the GSA is a wonderful way to broaden your professional network.  And it’s also a great way to make friends.

We hope you’ll join us this year. Won’t be the same without you.

Lora Burnett
GSA President

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