Want to Make Your Voice Heard?

Do you feel like your department isn’t doing a good enough job meeting your needs? Does your advisor go above and beyond when it comes to helping you out? Is your TA position too much for one person to mentally handle?

Whether your experience in graduate school is less than what you expected or better than you could have dreamed,  the Graduate School and the university as a whole want to hear about it. In two weeks, graduate students at the University of Texas have a unique opportunity to tell the “higher-ups” at the university exactly what is on their minds, be it good, bad or in-between.

Yes, it’s an online survey. But the survey’s creators, sociology professor Chandra Muller and sociology graduate assistants Anna Mueller, Caitlin Hamrock and Sarah Blanchard promise that this isn’t just a way for UT to give graduate students lip-service.

“UT is a premier research institution, and what we don’t know about grad education here is scary,” says Muller. “We can improve it, we can improve our position internationally. It’s in the administration’s interest to be listening to the results of this study.”

“They WILL listen,” she says.

Muller and her team have designed the Graduate Student Climate Survey with the help of an advisory council comprised of graduate students from a variety of disciplines, and have constructed it to cover nearly every aspect of graduate student life, from queries about academic experiences and departmental climate to questions focusing on  mental health and work-family balance. There is even a section of the survey specifically tailored to international graduate students; something that the team says is rarely done.

“Having such a large, diverse graduate student body, we really have a unique opportunity (at UT) to make a contribution to policy and graduate education in the US,” says research assistant and doctoral candidate Anna Mueller.

Caitlin Hamrock, a first-year graduate student in sociology, says that she and the team have designed the study “very particular” to the experiences of graduate students at UT Austin.

“The experiences of grad students are so varied,” says Hamrock. “We’ve gotten a lot of input from many different students, the advisory panel, etc., so we can capture as many aspects of graduate education as we can.”

The survey, which should take about 30 minutes to complete, will be emailed to all graduate students on Sunday, February 7. All responses will be completely anonymous, and Muller’s team says it will be “impossible” for students to be linked to any of their responses. After the survey period has ended, Muller and her team will write a report based on the survey’s findings geared toward bringing about policy changes that will positively impact graduate students.

“Our report will be geared entirely toward improving graduate education and bringing UT to a new level of excellence,” says Muller. “That’s why it’s so imperative that our students participate in the study and tell us what’s going on and how we can improve.”

“I know that this survey (will) make graduate education better for students in the future, including myself,” says Hamrock.

Look for the survey in your in-box starting February 7.

Have questions, comments or concerns? Post a comment and start a discussion!

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The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School

The Graduate School provides access to resources, services and funding to support more than 11,000 graduate students enrolled in graduate programs at the university.
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