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For Graduate Students

Graduate Students are welcome to participate in all of Open Circle's activities. In addition, we have some programs that are specifically for grad students

Personal Discovery Course for Graduate Students

A self-development course on values, goals, and living fully engaged

Next course: January – March, 2024

Join us for a chance to reflect as we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic: when life changed, how was your sense of meaning, purpose, and personal success affected? What values will you embrace and what difference do you want to make with your life? How will you sustain and take care of yourself going forward?

The course will include four 1.5-hour workshops with interactive group exercises, community support of other graduate students, Personal Discovery coach (at least one meeting with staff coach), and personal reflection exercises for every session. Throughout the course, you will be guided and given resources to create your own personal life mission statement.

The Personal Discovery Course will explore:

  • What are my values and principles which I wish to live by?
  • How do I integrate these into my life and school?
  • How do I care for myself?
  • How can money help or hinder me in my life mission?
  • How can I keep a long-term perspective?

Course Outline:

  • Session 1: What is success to me?
  • Session 2: Values, Dreams and Self-Care
  • Session 3: Create your Life Mission Statement; Financial Literacy and Values
  • Session 4: Living your Personal Mission and Finding Support


Sponsored by McMaster School of Graduate Studies and Student Open Circles


The personal discovery course provided a safe space to explore who am I and reinforced the power of a personal reflection routine. It allowed me to live a more intentional life where my values align with my day to day actions. I am more centred, balanced, and reflective in my day to day living, which has positively influenced the way I conduct my graduate research. The program's strength is it provides you with tools to keep this conversation with yourself alive so as you grow and when your life situation changes you can continue to be reflective and authentic to yourself. I would recommend this course to any student who wants to be present, intentional, and find joy in their graduate experience! -- Radha

I really enjoyed taking the Personal Discovery Course for Graduate Students offered by Open Circle. I took the course in the winter semester, meaning new year's resolutions and the desire for growth was fresh on mind. The activities helped me to better identify my values and goals, and then understand the roles which they played throughout various areas of my life. On my own, it can sometimes be hard to set aside time for self care and reflection. So I found the structure of the course and the optional pre/post-assignments to be very useful. I also liked the group dynamic which allowed me to share my thoughts and feelings with other like-minded individuals. Since completing the course, I am still able to remind myself fairly regularly of some of the major takeaway themes from the sessions, such as the importance of mindfulness and moderation. Participating in the course definitely helped me with my personal discovery and I'd say that I make more of an effort now to dedicate time towards self reflection. -- Shelley

Taking the PDC course was so helpful and needed as a graduate student because it can be overwhelming to find time for reflection amidst all of the deadlines and studying. It gave me space to reflect on my goals, who I am during this chapter of my life, and what success means to me. I felt heard and supported.

The course allowed me to pause and reflect on some very important questions around who I am, what my values are, and how I enact and would like to enact them in my daily life. More importantly, it reminded me that I am not alone in my journey and I am not alone in my courage—we are all connected by our shared humanity.

The Personal Discovery Course was a positive and welcoming space that allowed me to explore my goals and values in a meaningful way. It encouraged me to carve out time for self-reflection, which had a positive effect on my mental health and helped me to develop the habit of taking the time for self-care and reflection that I have continued since I completed the course. I appreciated being able to connect with other graduate students and with the facilitator throughout the course as well. The course was very worthwhile and I would recommend it to any graduate student looking to explore their goals and values in an open, non-judgemental space. -- Mara

I heard about the Personal Discovery Course (PDC) for Graduate Students through a weekly graduate email update (one that I, admittedly, don't always read thoroughly) and I have to think that it came onto my radar at a time when I really needed it. I experienced many personal and academic challenges during my first semester of graduate school and even though I still felt resilient, I also felt disconnected from my values. Taking the PDC encouraged me to invest time in myself, sometimes a difficult thing to give ourselves permission to do. I left each group meeting feeling energized and hopeful about the new things I was re-learning about myself (or discovering for the first time!) I most enjoyed that the PDC was less about unveiling a singular, grand "a-ha" moment and more about learning how to make tuning into our deepest selves part of a lifelong practice. -- Madison

Mindful Habits for Authentic Living

A Becoming Yourself Series for Graduate Students

Next course: to be announced

Take a journey into living your best life now, exploring: How can I follow my authentic path in daily living? How can I stay motivated and thrive as a grad student? How can I get self-defeating opinions out of my head? How can I make choices based on my own wisdom, values, and purpose? What is mindfulness and how can I deepen reflective awareness? Find support with other graduate students who are asking similar questions. Deepen your understanding of who you really are and wake up to your authentic self within the pressures of graduate student life as you:

  • Discover your unique personal daily rhythm through practical and manageable steps
  • Learn how to stick to habits that support you in living fully alive
  • Experience self-compassion, mindfulness, and self-care practices
  • Motivate yourself with compassion instead of criticism
  • Grow your courage to be yourself and let go of comparison
  • Listen for your needs, feelings, and values in relationships with others
  • Recognize your gifts and capabilities
  • Learn tools to make decisions that are in alignment with your purpose, values, and calling

The course will include four 1.5-hour workshops with interactive group exercises, community support of other graduate students, Becoming Yourself coach (at least one meeting with staff coach), and mindfulness and reflection exercises to complete for every session.

Course Schedule:

Session 1:

  • Discovering my Personal Daily Rhythm
  • Mindful Awareness in Daily Life

Session 2:

  • Motivation with Compassion instead of Criticism
  • Empowerment and Self-compassion practices
  • Affirming my Gifts, Qualities and Capabilities, dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Session 3:

  • What do I Stand For? Finding Courage to be Myself and Let go of Comparison
  • Forming Habits that support Me in Living Fully Alive

Session 4:

  • Discovering My Place in it all
  • Decision-Making in alignment with purpose and values


Sponsored by McMaster School of Graduate Studies and Student Open Circles