Summer “Break” can be a definite misnomer when you are a grad student. You may not be sitting in class or teaching section, but experiments, research, and writing don’t stop just because the academic year has come to a close. Even though you’re still busy, the change of schedule for summer can make it a great time to develop skills you need to be successful in graduate school. Whether you’re trying to master an old skill or need to pick up programming/conversational French/business-plan-writing or any of hundreds of other skills you can think of – the university has free and/or low-cost tools to help you get the job done. Read on for some of the services you should take advantage of before school’s back in session.
Where to Get It: University Library
Thanks to a new trial licensing agreement between the university and Rosetta Stone, the only things one needs to learn Mandarin Chinese or nearly 30 other languages is a computer with a microphone, a University of Illinois NetID and plenty of phonetic practice. The online language lessons touch on speaking and listening, pronunciation, spelling and grammar, and are offered at varying levels of fluency. Pronunciation and inflection also are tested through the Rosetta Stone service as students repeat the phrases.
The service works on mobile devices as well, though a desktop or laptop computer is recommended. Read more about the partnership online. If you are interested in using Rosetta Stone for free, don’t delay – the licensing agreement is only for one year. If the program shows frequent use, the contract will probably be extended and new languages and levels may be added.
Free or (Significantly) Reduced-Cost Software from WebStore
Cost: Free or Reduced Cost
Where to Get It: WebStore
Students, faculty and staff are eligible to receive significant discounts on over 350 software applications and software training courses offered by the U of I WebStore. Deals include $5/year subscriptions to the Adobe Cloud Software (including Photoshop, InDesign, and Adobe Acrobat Pro), free Microsoft Office programs, and much more. You’ll need to log-on to the WebStore with your NetID and password to see all the offerings available to you.
Where to Get It: go.illinois.edu/Lynda
Lynda.com is an online learning company that offers thousands of video tutorials on just about any subject you’d like to learn – from automotive design to public speaking and everything in between. The tutorials are offered for every skill level, from beginner to expert. Thanks to Technology Services, Lynda.com is free for all students, faculty, and staff at Illinois. That’s a savings to you of at least $245 per year (the cost of a basic subscription). Want to learn more? Read how Derek Attig, Assistant Director of Career Development (and Grad Life writer), used Lynda.com to develop his skills without getting another degree and how you can do the same.
Working on Research Away from Campus? Use the VPN
Don’t forget that you can connect to the campus network via Virtual Private Networking (VPN). This service allows people off campus to securely connect to the campus network, and obtain a campus network connection. This allows people to access services that are limited to campus IP space either by campus firewall groups, or other service contracts (like some library services). Learn how.
P.S. Did you graduate this May? Here’s what you need to know to make sure your important files and software come with you after you leave the University of Illinois. All of your crucial services--email, software, Library access, computer lab access--are tied to your NetID and your status as a student. To protect the university network, Technology Services removes the student status from the NetIDs of all undergrads, graduate students, and professional students once they graduate or leave campus. You can continue to use all of your services until your student status is removed. If you graduated in May, your student status will be removed at the start of the fall semester, so take advantage of all these great resources this summer! Questions? See a list of the services you keep after graduation and those you leave behind or contact the Technology Services Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217.244.7000.
Caitlin Edwards is the Communications Specialist at the Graduate College. She's currently pursuing a Master's of Science degree in Tourism Management at the university. Her research focuses on sustainable community development through tourism and in her free time, you can find her traveling, cooking, and exploring with her handsome pug, Torbin.