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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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Optimizing Motivation and Well Being Workshop Recap

Motivation word chart

"Why am I in grad school!?"

If you have ever asked yourself that question, you are not alone. Dr. Jennifer LaGuardia from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has some helpful information about how we can find ways to "reboot our motivation" and optimize our well being. 

Here are some things to consider

  • What got you interested in graduate school? and What keeps you going? Reflecting on these questions will help you identify what is driving your motivation. 
  • According to Self-Determination Therapy (SDI), motivation is a psychological energy that is directed towards a goal. It is not the quantity, but the quality of motivation that is important because it influences persistance and well-being. Quality of motivation is determined by one's experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 

What can you do?

Begin by reflecting on the ways your own psychological needs are being met or not, make an action plan, and enlist social support. "CARES" Self-Assessment is one way of doing this:

  • Competence: What are the areas you feel most confident about in your work? 
  • Autonomy: Are you able to pursue your interests and valued goals?  
  • Relatedness: How connected do you feel with others in your department? 
  • Extrinsic Compensation & Equity: Are you given enough resources and training to do your work? Are they enough to support your work? 
  • Structure: Are you given clear expectations and details about how to achieve your goals (graduate degree, research, etc.)? 

Free Tax Assistance with VITA

UCSB VITAUCSB'S Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is again offering free tax services to individuals and families earning less than $62,000. VITA is currently accepting appointments for this tax season. Appointments will begin on Feb. 5 and continue through Apr. 10.

To book an appointment, email Be sure to check out the "What to Bring" page on their website prior to your appointment. 


Grade Appeals, Faculty Misconduct, and Sexual Harassment

Student raising handCredit: openclipart.comOn the path to receiving a degree, graduate students may occasionally have an issue with a professor, or receive a grade that they don’t feel accurately reflects their course performance. UCSB's Graduate Division offers a variety of processes to help graduate students address such concerns.

Grade Appeal Process

The Graduate Division offers grade appeal options for students who feel there may have been administrative errors at work, issues with the professor, or other contributing factors.

Here are the required steps to contest a grade:

  • Try to discuss the grade with the professor. See if there might be an option to rewrite any papers to improve your grade. 
  • If this is unsuccessful, you should then speak to the Department Chair.
  • If both efforts fail, graduate students may file for a grade appeal. Details are listed on the Graduate Division website here.

Grade appeal requirements: 

  • Must be submitted before the end of the term following the quarter in which the grade was assigned. So, if you received the grade in winter quarter, you must turn in your grade appeal by the last day of spring quarter. This gives you a full quarter to first work with the professor and department chair to remedy the situation.
  • If the Graduate Division Dean denies the grade appeal, you can request that it be sent to the Graduate Council. You have 15 days to request the Graduate Council to review your complaint after receiving the Dean's decision.

At this stage, the Graduate Council can act to approve a retroactive withdrawal from the course (so that it won’t remain on your transcript), or a change of the contested grade. This process could result in your grade being raised, removed, or remaining the same. If the grade remains the same, the grad student has the option of retaking the course. The previous grade will then be replaced on your transcript if you improve on your second round.

For more information, peruse the Graduate Division information sites on the process. You can find a wealth of other helpful information on the Graduate Division Academic Services pages.

Faculty Code of Conduct and Complaints

Beyond grades, some faculty may occasionally violate the Faculty Code of Conduct as outlined by the UC Office of the President. To deal with these types of issues, graduate students may consider filing a complaint. Information regarding the Faculty Code of Conduct and the complaint process can be found on the relevant UCSB website here.

Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment

Graduate students also have the Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment as a resource. More information can be found on their website.


Webinar on Dealing with Stress and Rejection

Did you know that you have access to a ton of great resources on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) website as part of UCSB's institutional membership? When you sign up for free, you can access both archived and upcoming webinars, such as:

Credit: Bernard GoldbachStrategies for Dealing with Stress, Rejection, and Haters in Your Midst
Thursday, November 19
, 2-3 p.m.
NCFDD Virtual Classroom
To register, click here

The webinar will cover topics like:

  • The impact that stress and negativity can have if they are not managed
  • Identify the most common areas of stress in academic life
  • Concrete strategies for managing the physical, emotional, and attitudinal effects of stress

To sign up for your free membership on NCFDD and start accessing all of the resources it has to offer, click here for more instructions.


Easy and Free Tools to Help Students Budget

In addition to the pressures of academic requirements, job searches, and personal relationships, many students also feel financial stress; we have more money leaving our bank accounts than going into them.


Tracking expenses is the first step toward budgeting and financial planning. It’s important to know exactly where you’re spending your elusive money, and the results may surprise you. Getting an occasional coffee at Courtyard Café or a late-night pizza can certainly add up. Luckily, there are several easy and free ways to help monitor expenses:

  • Keeping a spending journal. Write down everything you spend for a month (or longer), and you’ll have a good idea of where your money is going. After that, you’ll be able to identify easy areas to save money (e.g., making coffee at home and bringing it to school, rather than a handful of visits to the coffee shop).
  • Sign up for a free account, and not only can you track your spending, but Mint will also suggest personalized savings tips. Other fun features include bill pay and free credit score checks.
  • LevelMoney. This app connects to your bank accounts and allows you more input into your saving and spending goals. After entering these goals, the app will track your purchases and tell you how much you have left to spend for a given period to stay on course.
  • PearBudget. Based off a simple Excel sheet, this website allows you to register for free with customized spending categories. You can export the Excel sheet for free, but after the first month trial period, an account with PearBudget costs $5 a month.
  • Free monthly spending trackers and credit reports from your credit card company. More credit card companies are helping their customers track their spending with spending analyzers in their monthly statements (e.g., Discover Card).

Library Update: Limited Access to Special Research Collections

UCSB Library LogoThe following is an update from the UCSB Library:

From now until the end of fall quarter 2015, library users will have limited access to all materials in Special Research Collections as the department moves to its state-of-the-art new facilities in the expanded Library.

Some materials might be accessible via special request, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. There will also be limits on the number of items we can retrieve and the time we may be able to keep them on hold.

We apologize for any inconvenience the move will cause, and are eager to welcome you into our new facilities on Jan. 4, 2016.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Public Service staff at 805-893-3062 or


Resources and Upcoming Events for LGBTQ Students and Allies

As the school year kicks off, there are many upcoming events and opportunities for LGBTQ, similarly identified, and supportive graduate students. The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) works with students, staff, and faculty to ensure that LGBTQ identities, experiences, and concerns are represented and addressed at UCSB.

The center aims to create a vibrant and engaging environment through:

  • Social and educational programming,
  • Volunteer and leadership opportunities,
  • A comfortable and welcoming social and study space, and
  • Professional and student staff members for support and advocacy.

Additionally, the RCSGD hosts regular events specifically for graduate students. Upcoming events:

LGBTQ Graduate Student Mixer
Thursday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m.
The Imperial

Meet other LGBTQ, similarly identified, and supportive graduate students. Build community, and celebrate fall! RSVP on this Facebook page.

Queer Grad Chatz: Queering Mentorship in the Academy
Thursday, Nov. 12, 12 p.m.

RCSGD Lounge (3rd floor of the Student Resource Building)
Queer Grad Chatz is an opportunity for grads to come together to discuss how queer identities impact experiences of graduate training, professionalization, and research. The installment will focus on mentorship, including strategies for working with faculty as well as how to more effectively serve as mentors to others.

Get Involved

Do you have ideas about how to increase opportunities and support for queer, transgender, and similarly identified graduate students? Are you interested in working with other graduate students to make these ideas a reality? Email Alex Kulick or stop by the RCSGD.

Stay in Touch

If you want to stay up to date on events, programs, and happenings around campus relevant to queer and transgender graduate students as well as other events by the RCSGD, join the Google Group and/or Facebook Group. You can also follow the RCSGD on Facebook and on Instagram for a full listing of all events and services.

Students in front of the RCSGD in the Student Resource Building. Photo courtesy of the RCSGD.


Phrase it Right with Academic Phrasebank

Academic PhrasebankAt a loss for the right words? It happens to the best of us. Fortunately there are useful examples to get your academic phrases right at the University of Manchester Academic Phrasebank.

Whether you are a newbie at the academic writing game, a non-native English speaker, or an old pro in a word jam, there's a useful phrase for everyone.

They have multiple examples for all parts of your thesis, dissertation, or research paper for: referring to sources, describing methods, reporting results, discussing findings, and writing conclusions.

You can use their site for free or pay for a PDF version of the phrasebank booklet.


How to be a Devil or Angel When Giving Feedback on Writing

Angel and DevilYou can be the devil or an angel when giving feedback. Credit: openclipart.comIf you are in a writer’s group or helping another grad student with their writing, you can either be a devil or an angel when giving feedback.

Being a Devil

If you want to be a devil, make sure your feedback is aggressive, judgmental, general, and scattered. You'll know you have succeeded if you leave a person more confused and defensive than when you started. You get bonus points if you make them contemplate quitting school.

Being an Angel 

On the other hand, if you want be an angel you can provide feedback that is supportive, specific, descriptive, and prioritized. You'll know you'll have done a good job if you leave a writer feeling capable of improving his/her work and knowing exactly how to do it. You get bonus points if they offer you chocolate or a beer.

To be an Angel, you should be:

Supportive: Phrase your feedback in an encouraging manner, taking in account the kind of feedback issues your partner wanted addressed. For example: Good start on the description of your participants. Remember to explain the selection process.

Specific: Focus on a particular area or issue and then provide solutions or suggestions for improvement. For example: Your Methods Chapter needs headings for each section to provide better organization, such as Participants, Interview Protocol, and Coding.

Descriptive: Describe problem areas from a reader’s perspective. For example: Your reader might not be familiar with those technical terms, so provide a glossary they can refer to if needed.

Prioritized: Focus on the two of three most important areas to keep the revisions and feedback manageable. Prioritize the list into big and little points. Also, tailor it to the needs of what your friend or partner was looking for in the feedback.

For example: The main area you should work on in your results is organization. Organize your results by your research questions. You also need to decide what tables and graphs are the most important. You can move the least important into an appendix. Last, check your citations to match your list of references.


Lessons from the Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat

Why are you writing a dissertation?

This was the first question that Dr. Katie Baillargeon asked participants to consider while preparing for the Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat

Once I stopped hyperventilating, I realized what an awfully sobering, yet useful, question this is to actually force myself to answer: Why am I writing a dissertation? Being in my sixth year of graduate school and having just defended my dissertation prospectus last spring, you'd think that I would have considered this question before.

I’ll start off by saying that the Writing Retreat was not what I thought it was going to be. But I don’t say that in a negative way. I say that having emerged with a new realization from the experience: what I thought I knew about my own writing process and productivity – as well as what I am able to realistically accomplish in a week of dedicated writing time – was wrong.

In the tables below, I summarize some of the valuable lessons I learned by participating in the Writing Retreat.

I learned a lot over the course of the week, but not what I thought I would learn. I learned that my writing process works (or at least can work) really differently than I imagined it. In the low-stakes, yet intensive, environment of the Writing Retreat, I think that each of the participants came away with a toolbox of strategies, self-realizations, and support that will make us all more successful in our writing futures.

To read Writing Peer Kyle Crocco's workshop recaps from the Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat, click below: