Quick Links

Mason Grad Insider

Quick Tips to Being a Mentor to Undergrads!

March 25, 2021

by Austin A. Deray


Good day, Mason graduate students! I hope y’all are having a good Spring 2021 and beginning to enjoy the warmer weather. Today’s blog was inspired by a conversation I had with one of my many writing groups (y’all know I love a writing group: “Virtual Writing Communities: How Can We Work Together, while We Stay Apart?”), and I decided to bring it to everyone this week on Mason’s Grad Insider… so let’s get to talking about mentoring. 

A lot of time in grad school, we talk about finding a mentor (“What to Look for in a Mentor”), but recently, one of  my writing groups had …

Backwards Design for Maximizing your Time in Graduate School

February 17, 2021

By Shannon N. Davis, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology

Edited by Austin A. Deray. Leadership and Advising, Graduate Student Life


It seems kind of silly but a question that many people ask new graduate students is, “When are you going to finish?” You begin your graduate program with a goal in mind and possibly even a deadline by which that you anticipate completing your degree. But how about we think about this differently. Think only about having your degree as the endpoint. Don’t you want your time that you spend pursuing your degree to yield not only the degree but also launch you into a successful …

Welcome to the Mason Grad Insider Blog!

September 2, 2020

By Nikita Thadani and Austin A. Deray

We would like to welcome all new and continuing graduate and professional students to the 2020-2021 year! We know classes and campus operations may not be how you had imagined this semester, but we are confident that we will all make an amazing experience out of it nonetheless. The Mason Grad Insider blog is sponsored by Graduate Student Life and will feature great content, with contributions from colleagues in departments across campus. This blog was created to give graduate students a voice and be a guide and resource during their graduate career at Mason. Mason grad students can expect to find a wide …

Overcoming Procrastination

November 13, 2019

By Yasamin Rahmani

The Webster’s Dictionary definition of procrastination is “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Although the definition is quite broad, it does hit close to home. Whether this intention of putting off is at work, school, or our personal life, it is no stranger to us – at least not to me.

Procrastinating can also be looked at as a habitual stress relief that can be done inadvertently, hindering one’s success. It is no surprise that having the habit of procrastination affects productivity and the ability to plan ahead to achieve short-term and long-term goals.

The reason I chose to write this …

Study Groups: The Thing to Do in Graduate School

October 9, 2019

By Austin Deray

Since coming to Mason, I have been asked the same question repeatedly from other graduate students coming to our offices’ events: “What should I do as a graduate student?” I must confess it always takes me by surprise, and then I find myself propelled back in time to 2013 when I was working on my master’s. I remember being given two pieces of advice by my professor and mentor at the time, Dr. Jane Rago, both of which were ironically enough supported by research that she had no idea existed: lean on your cohort and connect with a study group. I have written about the importance of …

Breathe In, Breathe Out: Surviving Finals and Planning for the Summer

May 2, 2019

The spring semester is coming to a close, which means that summer break is almost here. We are sure that you are as excited as we are to take a break from the everyday routine of classes and assignments. While often not as demanding, the summer is an opportunity for many of us to move forward in our graduate education by taking extra classes, gaining practical or professional experience in our field, spending time writing our thesis or dissertation, and/or advancing our research skills. For the last post of the year, we want to share with you some techniques for de-stressing as the final exam period approaches and tips for …

Going Abroad, Is It Right for You?

April 3, 2019

By Sydney Glass

While study abroad is highly encouraged in undergrad, it is not always given the same attention in graduate school. Because grad students are so busy with their academics, work, and personal lives, we often assume that study abroad or other forms of international education will not fit into our schedules. During my undergraduate education, I was fortunate to have the opportunity not only to spend a semester in Spain, but also to work with the study abroad office at my university. These experiences sparked my interest in and highlighted the importance of international education. In this post, I will share with you some general ways that …

Goal Setting and Motivation

January 27, 2017

By Katrina Dunlap

How many of us set goals for the academic semester or year? Goals are important to getting things done and moving forward to advance both our professional and personal lives. They serve as a motivational tool to keep us on track and focused on the many smaller tasks that lead up to achieving our desired outcomes. Goal setting is a foundation upon which to build your personal and professional development. Goals should encompass short-term, long-term, personal and professional.

 “Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen Covey

As a graduate student, consider the obvious goal – graduating. To envision this goal, one must examine the many steps …

Managing Exam Stress

December 3, 2015

By Kelly Pedersen

As you are reaching the end of the fall semester here at Mason, and are in the middle of final exams, projects, and papers, graduate school can often feel overwhelming. This time of year can be hectic: with increased academic stresses, you may find yourself particularly vulnerable to feelings of tension and anxiety.

The effects of stress can be emotionally and physically draining. Researchers from Carleton University Institute of Neurosciences have found that students anticipating exams were more likely to get sick than other grad students and that illnesses often lasted after the exams were over. They also found that the function of the immune system changed in relation …

Making the Most of My Graduate School Experience

October 15, 2015

By Kate Shaw

I began graduate school for the same reason a lot of people do — I was making a career change. In my case, it was from publishing into higher education administration, and I wasn’t sure how well I’d transition back into academic life after being out of school for a few years. For my first semester, I just stopped by campus for class and then left. I was really enjoying my classes, but as the semester went on, I realized that I craved more of a connection to the campus. I sought out opportunities at Mason and eventually applied for and won a position as a graduate assistant for Graduate Student …