Graduate Students - Avoiding Isolation

Your days of taking formal classes are over.  The independent projects have been going well…until recently.  

A feeling of isolation or loneliness has started to set in, making it more difficult to feel motivated about your work. 

Maybe you are: 

  • pushing yourself to meet deadlines
  • travelling abroad for research
  • painting your thesis exhibit in a remote studio
  • studying for comprehensive exams
  • working without the support of your advisor

Any of these scenarios can keep you working long hours, usually by yourself.  But you’re not alone in your experience.  Feelings of isolation are more common among graduate students during their final semesters when independent work is required.

Graduate students, however, are also resourceful and gracious— willing to share their strategies for success.

Here are their suggestions for balancing work and life:

  • join a support network of other graduate students
  • attend a conference for personal or professional development
  • attend a drop-in workshop or wellness class on campus 
  • join a professional organization associated with your chosen career
  • plan a visit, even a short one, to a friend or family
  • sign up for a physical fitness class at an area gym or on campus
  • volunteer with a group you’ve always wanted to help
  • investigate a spiritual community if this aligns with your belief system

If your feelings persist beyond what you feel you’re comfortable with, or you have any questions about a friend, please contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).  They offer free, confidential and individual counseling, as well as support groups for graduate students during the academic year.

Grad students recommend these sites as starting points for finding groups and other resources: 

The University of Michigan has well over 1000 registered student clubs on campus.  Visit MaizePages to learn more about what organizations are available. [try keyword- Ann Arbor] – The goal of is to find well-established organizations and groups in your area to join. You can also start your own group. [Note: this is not a dating site.] Groups in Ann Arbor include the Ann Arbor New Tech Group, Ann Arbor Young Professionals, and the Ann Arbor French Conversations Club.