The start of a new academic year often brings feelings of both promise and overwhelm. At a university as vast as Berkeley, the opportunities can feel endless, but with that can also come a head-spinning number of possibilities and responsibilities that clamor for your attention. It’s no wonder that many graduate students end up feeling unmoored or isolated! 

That’s where GradPro’s check-in groups come in. Here’s how they work: every week, a small group of graduate students meets up, virtually or in-person, to provide accountability and discuss the challenges of graduate school. At each meeting, participants set weekly goals and reflect on how the previous week has gone. Then, they engage in themed discussions around subjects particularly relevant to the graduate experience, such as imposter syndrome or mentoring relationships. Participants also learn about and share resources designed to support graduate students through their academic and professional development process. The groups are a safe place to learn to set realistic goals, build community, and treat yourself kindly.

Check-in groups are all about peer mentorship. They are facilitated by Professional Development Liaisons (PDLs), advanced graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines, who are trained to create an inclusive, supportive environment for all participants. This year, GradPro is also excited to announce that check-in groups have expanded to include external facilitators from across the university who have undergone training in the GradPro Check-In Group model. This allows us to provide support to a greater number of students. In addition to groups based on stage in academic program (e.g., master’s, pre-quals and post-quals), we will also be offering a number of identity-based groups.

Testimonials from past check-in group participants:

“I’m so glad I joined a check-in group! I got to meet wonderful people from all parts of the world, and learn about their stories, and what they’re studying. I also became aware of a wealth of resources I didn’t know existed.”

“I enjoyed the goal-setting aspect of check-in groups. In my old lab group, we had goal-setting and planning, but the process felt stressful and toxic when discussing with my advisor. The peer check-in groups helped me establish reasonable and flexible weekly goals without the pressure of being told I’m not doing enough.”

“It was nice to connect with my peers about our shared identity. Hearing some common issues was helpful in making me feel like I am not the only one going through it.”

Registration for the fall check-in groups will begin on August 21 at 12:00 p.m. PT. Learn more about check-in groups and register for fall check-in groups. 

Yana Zlochistaya is a fifth-year graduate student in the department of Comparative Literature and a Professional Development Liaison with the Graduate Division.