Prospering Doctoral Students: Our Tips

Here are some tips that may be useful to you to prosper in your doctoral studies at UIC. Take some time and review them. Then try them. They work!

Get Involved

Get involved in the life of the College of Education. Attend the colloquia and workshops given by faculty and visiting scholars. In the past, these workshops have provided advice on publishing, suggestions for presenting at conferences, and tips on preparing a curriculum vitae. Take advantage of informal gatherings to get to know faculty members and fellow students. Attend social gatherings. Interact with people in the third floor Commons Area (3233 ETMSW) and meet with fellow students outside of class.

Get and Stay Connected

Get connected to the Internet.  Your UIC NetID is part of your UIC email address (netid@UIC.EDU) and is necessary:

  • To use various secured or personalized UIC and University of Illinois services.
  • To use the UIC portal page
  • To get an Enterprise ID, which is required to register.
  • To use any ACCC service: email, UIC-WiFi, personal computer labs and printers, and storage space for personal web pages.

Check out information about activating your NetID.  Information about such things as the location and hours of UIC’s computer labs, available software, and computer education opportunities is available online.

Look out for the College of Education’s Graduate Student Listserv emails.  This listserv is used by the College to communicate with graduate students   and to post various messages including campus-wide announcements, fellowship and assistantship opportunities, job openings, and upcoming events.  It is a great way to stay connected to the College.  As a College of Education graduate student you are automatically subscribed to the listserv. If you encounter problems, contact Mike Herkes (mherkes@uic.edu) for assistance.

Join the Graduate College’s Graduate Student listserv.  This listserv is used by graduate students to communicate across disciplines.  It is also used by the Graduate College to disseminate important information.  The listserv is called GRADLIST@uic.edu.  Students may subscribe by sending an e-mail to: listserv@listserv.uic.edu, with the following in the BODY of the e-mail:  Subscribe gradlist First_name Last_name (replacing subscriber’s first and last name for First_name Last_name).

Get to know the College faculty.  Introduce yourself.  Read their books and articles.  The members of the faculty are really very approachable and can provide a great deal of support as you work through your program.

Get involved in research and service projects.  There are many such opportunities in the College.  Talk with your faculty advisor about different centers and projects that operate under the auspices of the College.  Contact the faculty members who work with these centers and projects to learn more and to explore opportunities for you to work with them.  Some centers and projects have paid graduate assistantships to offer.  Explore those possibilities too.

Check the College website and the bulletin boards on the third floor to learn about College news and events.  Bulletin boards throughout the College provide information about the goings-on in particular departments and programs of the College.  Many faculty members also tape postings on their office doors.

Start an e-mail network among a group of colleagues with common interests.  This need not be limited to people in the College of Education or to people at UIC.

Make use of the Educational Technology Lab (ETL) (2011 ETMSW).  This lab contains both Macintosh and IBM compatible computers, plus scanners that you may use.  Contact the Lab (312-996-0133) or visit the ETL homepage.

Support One Another

One of the most valuable opportunities you have while here is the chance to get to know and form ties with other students—ties that create a human community with shared intellectual interests. Fellow students can offer each other intellectual support and stimulation, empathy with the difficulties and problems most students encounter, and tips for surmounting those challenges. Intellectual growth flourishes when people share with each other, listen to each other, encourage sincerely, and critique honestly. Before you can reap those benefits, you must form relationships, which let people trust each other with fledgling ideas and papers. The initiative for making this happen rests largely with students themselves. But if you think faculty or administration can help, let us know.

Stay in Regular Contact with Your Faculty Advisor

Your advisor plays a vital role in your academic success and prosperity. Set up an appointment to talk with your advisor at least once a term, especially to discuss your course selection. Set up times to talk about what you are learning and ideas you may have for your own research.

Develop Your Writing Skills

Because writing is a critical part of doctoral studies and professional and academic life, you may want to improve your writing skills.  One way is by attending any of the writing courses offered at UIC and/or other universities in the Chicago metropolitan area.  Your faculty advisor can help you identify the right opportunity for you.  UIC’s Writing Center offers peer tutoring on specific writing assignments.  Tutoring can be done at the Center or even online.  Call (312-413-2206) to make an appointment.  Finally, students are encouraged to form writing groups among themselves for purposes of support and development.

Register Early

Make timely appointments with your advisor each term before registering.  Register for courses as early as possible to avoid being closed out of highly-subscribed courses or to ensure that smaller seminar courses you want to take will not be cancelled because of low enrollment.  Before you pass the oral portion of the preliminary exam, you must register for at least one semester each year (summer term is optional) – even if you have finished all your coursework – in order to retain your status as a student in good standing and to avoid being dropped from your program administratively by the Graduate College. After you pass the oral portion of the preliminary exam, you must register each semester.  However, you do not need to register for summer unless you are taking the oral portion of the preliminary exam or defending your dissertation during that term. Students who have met all degree requirements except the dissertation may be eligible to register for 0 hours (see the Graduate College Catalog for more information).

Advance registration is by far the best way to register for a future term.  As a graduate student, you will be scheduled to register during the first week of registration, and therefore you should have little difficulty getting into the classes you want.  The University uses an online self-service registration system.  Check the UIC Class Schedule for registration procedures.  For questions about registration, call the Registration Help Line at 312- 996-8600.  You will not receive an online bill until after the semester begins.  Financial statements of student accounts will only be available online via the E-Bill system.

If you need a respite from continuous study for a limited amount of time, the Graduate Catalog outlines the procedure for requesting a leave of absence.  This must be done formally to prevent you from being dropped administratively and having to reapply to your program.  If you wish to take a leave of absence, talk with your faculty advisor.