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Campus Resources: Knowing Who to Ask for Help

September 29, 2015

By Kelly Pedersen

At Mason there are numerous resources to assist students with academic and personal issues that may come up during the course of their studies. These resources, staffed by trained professionals, are designed to assist students with issues that often arise in graduate school. Part of being a successful student is knowing who to ask for help and where to go for assistance.

  1. Student Health Services:

We have clinics on all of our campuses with physicians and nurses who can diagnose and treat many common injuries and illnesses. They also can provide immunizations, fill prescriptions and address women’s and men’s health issues. There is no charge to speak with a health care provider and nominal fees for lab work, medications, dressings, etc. If you require care that is out of our clinics’ realm, an outside physician or facility can be recommended.

  1. Counseling and Psychological Services:

CAPS provide confidential personal and academic services to students. Individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, consultations to students, faculty and staff, and community education programs are offered.

  1. The Office of Student Support:

Student Support serves as the central resource for assisting students who are encountering barriers to their academic success and personal growth. The office connects students with appropriate Mason and off-campus resources and implements action plans for students in need of intervention, including crisis intervention. Please contact Student Support if you observe behavior that causes concern about a student or other community member’s safety, feel threatened by a student or otherwise notice behavior changes in a student that cause concern.

  1. Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education and Services (WAVES):

WAVES helps students develop and maintain healthy lifestyles by addressing some of the most challenging issues they may face during their collegiate years: Healthy relationships, Sexual assault, Drug and alcohol use, Nutrition and body image, Stress management, and Sexual health. The office provides educational programming, one-on-one support and counseling, group support, and advocacy services. We believe students are most successful when healthy and happy and we support them in finding that balance for themselves.

  1. Financial Aid:

The office of student financial aid is available to speak with students about a myriad of financial issues including applying for aid, scholarships, grants, loans, federal work study programs, and military/ veterans issues.

  1. Office of International Programs and Services:

Mason has been host and home to thousands of students, researchers, and faculty members from around the world. The Office of International Programs and Services educates, celebrates and serves the Mason community, including international and domestic students, faculty and exchange visitors, by helping them reach their highest academic and personal goals. The Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) advises non-immigrant students, scholars, faculty, and staff at George Mason University.  If you have questions or concerns related to your immigration status, we are here to help. The office offers the opportunity to meet with an advisor, help with document processing, and cultural, social, and educational programs.

  1. Office of Disability Services

As part of George Mason University’s continuing commitment to upholding the letter and spirit of the laws that ensure equal treatment of people with disabilities, the university established and maintains Disability Services. Under the administration of University Life, the center implements and coordinates reasonable accommodations and disability-related services that afford equal access to university programs and activities.
Disability Services is available to serve all students with disabilities, including those with cognitive (e.g., learning, psychological, and closed head injury), sensory, mobility, and other physical impairments.

  1. The Writing Center:

The George Mason University Writing Center is committed to supporting writers in the Mason community as they work to construct and share knowledge through writing. They provide writers with the opportunity to test out ideas with a tutorial staff comprised of trustworthy and attentive readers and listeners. They support writers from the beginning, exploratory stages of the writing process to the final phases of polishing the final version.

In service of these ideals, the Writing Center offers the Mason community the following:

  • Supportive and well-trained graduate and undergraduate tutors who are invested in the writing process, as they are experienced writers themselves
  • ESL specialist tutors with a linguistics background
  • An administrative staff well versed in current teaching and tutoring writing research and practice
  • The opportunity to meet with tutors face-to-face or to receive email-based tutoring through the Online Writing Lab
  • Weekly graduate student write-ins
  • A collaborative relationship with Mason libraries to support writers in their research and research integration
  • Writing workshops designed to address the needs of student writers

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Communicating With Your Professor: How to Write an Email

September 22, 2015

By Kelly Pedersen

You’re preparing for one of your first assignments in graduate school. You’ve bought your books, you have done the reading, and you are sitting down to start your paper. You realize that you don’t quite understand something about the assignment and want to ask your professor a question. It’s time to fire off a quick email right? Wait! First make sure that you understand the rules of email etiquette.

A common complaint among college and graduate school professors is inappropriate communication from their students. One of the most consistent issues is the proper use of email. Many students grew up texting in shorthand and are used to having a relaxed relationship with authority figures, but in graduate school it’s important to maintain a respectful relationship with your professor in your digital communication.

If you find that you aren’t prepared to write a clear, cohesive message, here are some tips to keep you from making email mistakes and to help you retain your professor’s respect.

  1. Read the syllabus: One of the top complaints from professors is that students email them questions whose answers can easily be found in the syllabus. There are all kinds of exciting things in there, so read it! Faculty members usually strive to provide clear descriptions of course expectations and assignments on their syllabi, so make sure to read it thoroughly before sending an email that asks when an assignment is due. The syllabus may also include the professor’s communication preferences or expectations, such as hours that your professor will and will not answer emails from students.
  2. Keep your subject lines short and clear: Don’t type “question” into the subject line. This is not helpful in determining whether they need to answer your question immediately. If you have an inquiry about your class, include the course number in the subject line. This gives your professor an immediate frame of reference for your question.
  3. Do not mark your email as high importance if it isn’t: Your question is important to you, but give your professor some time to answer with a thoughtful reply instead of demanding immediate attention. Try not to send an email late at night and expect it to be answered immediately. Annoying the person who makes decisions about your grade is not your goal.
  4. Be Respectful! : Repeat after me: “My professor is not my peer.” No emoticons, no shorthand or slang, and use spell check. Begin your email with a formal greeting and end with a respectful phrase, such as “Thank you for your time.”
  5. Use a professional email address: This is self-explanatory. Your email address should usually be some form of your name. The time for humorous email addresses has passed. It should not be “deezboyz55@yahoo.com” or “fluffybunny4u@gmail.com” Now that you’re in grad school, you should be projecting professionalism. More appropriate examples of email addresses are “john_doe@gmail.com” or” Doe.John.R@gmail.com”. Include numbers IF YOU MUST, but try to avoid it. As an aside, remember that some faculty require students to use their GMU email addresses for school correspondence, so please adhere to their preferences.
  6. Be Careful of CC, BCC, and Reply All: A writer from gradhacker.org comments, “All three of these email features are immensely useful when they are used under the correct circumstances. BCC should be used when you are emailing lots of people and you want to avoid that long list of emails at the beginning. Be careful that you are CC’ing only those who need to receive the email. And finally, remember that a LOT OF LISTSERVS default to REPLY ALL.  I managed a listserv with this function once and every time an intended single recipient went REPLY ALL we would hemorrhage members. This was often due to the delightful “Please remove me from the list” REPLY ALL cycle. Please don’t do this. And if you do: don’t send a REPLY ALL apology. In my vision of listserv nirvana, we would all agree that we understand it could happen to anyone.”

Do you need help with your writing skills? Contact the Mason Writing Center, which has locations at the Arlington and Fairfax campuses: http://writingcenter.gmu.edu

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Welcome to the Mason Grad Insider!

September 16, 2015

Greetings, Mason graduate students, and welcome to the inaugural post on the Mason Grad Insider blog! The purpose of this blog, sponsored by Graduate Student Life and University Life Arlington, is to connect with graduate students and communicate useful tips for success as well as resources for graduate students across the Mason campuses.

Posted weekly, the blog will cover a variety of topics, from writing and studying strategies, to balancing school, work, and family life, to current issues facing graduate students as they navigate their path towards earning a graduate degree. We hope you find this blog informative and relatable to your graduate school experiences. If you have any topics suggestions you’d like to submit, send them our way to gradlife@gmu.edu. Check back each week for new posts!

Who We Are

Kelly Pedersen is the Graduate Assistant for University Life Arlington. She heads up the planning and logistical details for University Life events like Pizza and Perspectives and Coffee and Conversation. She also plays a large role in engaging student leaders along with serving as the technology lead for University Life through the use of social media, photography, and videography. She is currently a Masters candidate at the College of Visual and Performing Arts in the Arts Management program. Her areas of interest include international arts policy and public funding of the arts. Kelly is also an alumna of the Americorps’ National Civilian Community Corps and a winner of the congressional medal for volunteer service.

Kate Shaw is a full-time graduate student working towards a masters degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Higher Education. She serves as a Graduate Assistant for Graduate Student Life, where she helps plan and facilitate events and other resources for Mason’s graduate students on the Fairfax campus. Additionally, Kate is an Assistant Program Officer for the Center for Global Education, where she assists in coordinating various programs abroad. Kate loves to travel and is interested in developing international educational experiences for graduate students.

The blog will also occasionally feature posts by guest bloggers from around the Mason community.

Grad Student Welcome Days

As the year kicks into full swing, several Mason offices and departments have come together to provide resources to help graduate students get into the groove of things at Mason. During the first six weeks of the semester, as part of a series called Grad Student Welcome Days, several events will be held across the Mason campuses, ranging from educational and career workshops to a networking event for graduate students of color. Check out the lineup for Grad Student Welcome Days here.

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