Category Archives: Grad School Life & Advice

On Choosing Research Groups & Grad Advisors

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So, I’m like a month late to the party, but April 15th was the final deadline for most US PhD students to officially accept a grad school offer. Congrats, you guys! In a few short months, you will begin your grad school adventure!

However, the big decisions aren’t over. After all, not all of you were accepted directly into a lab. In fact, most of you will have to participate in rotations or find some other means to narrow down which group you want to join and which professor you want to work under. In other words, the next choice you will have to make is deciding which research group do you want to spend the next 5+ years of your life working with. No pressure, right?
Continue reading On Choosing Research Groups & Grad Advisors

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Grad Student Guilt: Taking Breaks

Disclaimer: Though this article mainly talks about grad school experiences, this topic is applicable to many different types of people and the advice is applicable to anyone who feels the expectation to be constantly working. 

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Grad school is an interesting beast. You’re neither a student, nor an Adult(TM) and as such, you really get none of the benefits from either category. That is, you don’t have the surplus of free time between classes that you once had in college, nor does work limit itself to 40 hours a week like it tends to do in Adult World. Continue reading Grad Student Guilt: Taking Breaks

Lessons from Packing for Field Research

recently-updated140-650x840So two weekends ago, I had to help a couple lab members get ready for their research field campaign. It was quite a learning experience, if I do say so myself, especially because I will have to be doing the same for my field work in a few short months. Anyway, because I found the experience so humorous and insightful, I thought I’d share the lessons I’ve learned with those who are or are planning to be in disciplines that do a lot of field work. Continue reading Lessons from Packing for Field Research

Skills of a Successful STEM Grad Student

traits-for-massive-success-in-businessBeing successful in grad school takes a lot of effort and a lot of different skills. Of course, to succeed as a STEM grad student, your knowledge and technical skill set in your specific discipline are definitely important. However, there are many other skills required in order to be a successful grad student that, of course, no one ever seems to tell you about.

So, in no order, here are the skills that I’ve found are needed across the board, in order to get through grad school ad a STEM student. Continue reading Skills of a Successful STEM Grad Student

Grad School: The Temptation to Quit

Though this blog post is directed towards those going through difficult grad school experiences, the advice given is completely applicable for anyone going through similar situations.

167It was a bad quarter. Though I somehow managed to escape relatively unscathed and pass my classes… hell is not an adequate enough word to describe how low some days got. In fact, some days my mental health was in such peril that many times I felt like walking into my boss’s office and tell him to take me off the project I’m working on… or, on the worst days, tell him I’m quitting the program for good.

In the end, I did neither of these things and after a day or two the feelings passed. However, I remember that afterwards I just felt so guilty. Because, here I am. I’m the first in my family that has been given the opportunity to graduate from college and continue my higher education. I have a rare chance to pursue a career that I am so passionate for and possibly make a difference. Yet, for some reason, despite all this, I’ve thought of walking away countless times. Quitting. Continue reading Grad School: The Temptation to Quit

Anxiety in (Grad) School

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Disclaimer: This post is just a single anecdote of my experiences with feelings of anxiety and my personal way of coping with it. I am my no means an expert and highly recommend that if you think you may be dealing with feelings of anxiety or have an anxiety disorder, that you seek help from a professional. 

I’ve been in grad school for almost five months now (holy crap, it feels like years!) and it has been quite an experience. Though I’ve bitched and complained both here and on my Tumblr, overall it’s been a positive experience. After all, it feels like everyday I’m learning something new about my research field, meeting fantastic people and getting more and more involved with the science that I love… Continue reading Anxiety in (Grad) School

Narrowing your “research focus”

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Hi everyone!

So as the thought of grad school gets closer, so does the realization that it might be a good idea to start thinking about what you want to focus on as a research topic. But of course, this leads to many questions such as, how do you even go about narrowing your interests? And how refined of a research topic do you really need before grad school? Will my lack of a focus reflect badly on my grad applications? Does this mean I can’t apply to fellowships? Help meeee!

Not to worry, my friends! Hopefully this post will answer all of your questions and more! For organization purposes, this post will be separated into three parts!

Continue reading Narrowing your “research focus”