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Practices to Facilitate Academic Success

We developed this resource to provide a central location for sharing good ideas from across campus for practices that contribute to graduate student success. Our goal is to support your efforts in every phase of graduate education-from recruiting the best students through preparing the next generation of the profession.

The suggestions and samples we include here come from a variety of sources. Some we encountered in the course of the Graduate School's annual Program Review, some are suggestions provided by colleagues at the University of Michigan, and others are from peer institutions.

In each section you'll find short descriptions of activities, processes and events as well as related sample documents. In addition, there are sample practices from peer institutions and lengthier sources that can provide context for the practice and help to generate new approaches.

We suggest that you begin by reading Doctoral Degree Completion: Conceptual Framing by Deborah Carter, former Director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) here at the University of Michigan, and Carmen McCallum, a Ph.D. graduate of CSHPE.

Recruiting and Outreach

There are many approaches to identifying, contacting and encouraging promising applicants. In addition, the disciplinary interests and personal background of prospects can strongly influence what they find engaging and persuasive.

New Student Orientation

New student orientation is an essential step in acclimating graduate students to the university environment. Many programs are using a combination of in-person activities and web-based information covering a wide range of topics to welcome and acclimate new students to the University of Michigan, become familiar with campus resources, and be successful in their programs.

Building and Maintaining Community

The effective socialization of graduate students into the intellectual community of the degree program is one of the most significant factors influencing student persistence in doctoral education. Graduate education occurs through sharing and creating new knowledge in formal and informal situations, both within and outside of the classroom or lab, and an effective community is developed through activities that foster collaboration and facilitate interaction. Here are some tips to integrate students into the relevant intellectual community and provide multiple sources of support crucial to successful degree completion.

Mentoring & Advising

Research shows that both students and faculty benefit when graduate students are involved in effective mentoring and advising relationships. Browse through these suggestions and handbooks about facilitating mentoring relationships that can fully connect graduate students with the guides who help them to achieve their greatest potential.

Evaluation of Academic Progress

The objective of the practices described here is to identify ways in which faculty can more effectively help students make progress in their graduate studies by routinely documenting and sharing with each student a constructive critique of that individual’s efforts. Whatever the format of an academic progress report, the intention is to provide a framework for constructive discussion of student progress toward the degree and to document suggestions, guidelines, and benchmarks provided to the student.

Professional Development

There are opportunities for professional training, both within departments and around the University, that allow students to engage in activities that will enrich their potential for success. By taking advantage of these opportunities, graduate students are better prepared to achieve career goals in academia and elsewhere. Here are some examples and resources detailing effective practices to help transition graduate students into their professional career.

Mental and Emotional Health

This resource is intended to serve as a practical guide for use by department and program leadership in preparation for and management of situations involving students in need.