Engaging and supporting incoming students

This resource page is intended to provide resources and suggestions to help you engage incoming and returning students in your department.

Student Engagement Image

Engaging incoming Students

Graduate students tend to most strongly identify with their departments at McGill and, as such, departments have traditionally taken a significant role in ensuring student engagement in a variety of ways, including by providing department specific events, orientation and onboarding for incoming students, as well as support for peer to peer networks.

Resources and Recommendations

Promoting student engagement is a community-wide effort at McGill. GPS actively engages with incoming students by sharing information and tips on how to prepare for their arrival on campus. Students are directed to GradHub for a comprehensive list of resources. Campus Life & Engagement (CL&E) offers a range of pre-arrival webinars and graduate orientation events.

Departments can leverage and complement the work being done by university-wide units by ensuring that your students are aware of these options and by creating department specific activities or resources that take advantage of existing content and offerings.

Events & Orientation

  • Many departments have a long tradition of organizing special events and a department specific orientation session. This year it will be more important than ever to provide students with a way to connect with your department virtually. Hosting department specific events is an excellent way to help your students connect with one another as well as get to know the staff and faculty in your department.
  • Event Ideas
    • Coffee hour with Faculty members: Roundtable introductions to the professors and their research in your department. If your department is very large, this could even be a series.
    • Mini talks and/or overview of research areas in your department or invited guest speakers.
    • Information on degree expectations (milestones and coursework)
    • Invite a guest speaker from one of the many support services available to graduate students (see below for examples) to provide a tailored workshop or seminar for your students.
    • Partner with your department PGSA (click here to view a list of graduate associations) to offer social events (a great way to help your incoming students get connected with their peers) and/or peer led sessions on topics such as advice for first years, student life at McGill, or discussion groups. See below for additional information on supporting Peer Networks.
  • Pre-Arrival & Orientation

Student Support and Wellbeing

  • Wellness Hub
    • Did you know that there is a mental health clinician dedicated to supporting Graduate Students and the larger graduate community here at McGill? Local Wellness Advisors (LWAs) are trained clinicians embedded within faculties and services to orient and connect students with the appropriate support resource - on-campus or off-campus - for their unique situation.
  • Peer Networks
    • Peer to peer connections are an essential source of engagement and support for all students. Departments play a critical role in fostering these networks, by acting as a conduit for communications and helping students to identify and access the resources they need to form new networks. Here are some ways you can help:

Highlighting Resources & Answering Questions

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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