Category Archives: Grad School & Academia

Dealing with Grad School Offers

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You’ve made it this far. Hopefully you have gotten some kick ass acceptance letters, even if they may be mixed in with some icky rejections. However, you’re not done yet. Now comes what I found was the most stressful part of this whole process: choosing which offer to accept.

Don’t worry, though. You’ll be fine.

Here below to help are a few suggestions, tips and anecdotal tidbits that I personally used when I made my decision. Hope it helps!

As a disclaimer, this is highly subjective. You know yourself best. You know what you want out of life. This is just here to help those that need a little perspective on what they should be considering.

If anyone has any of their own suggestions, please leave it in the comments below!

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Preparing for Grad School Visits

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Ding! A wild email notification appears.

Oh no! It’s a message from one of the grad schools you applied to!

You half-heartedly tap on the notification and close your eyes for a quick prayer to the grad school gods. Your heart wants the best, but you’re preparing for the worst.

Finally in a second of bravery, your eyes open and you skim through the message. YOU’VE BEEN ACCEPTED! CONGRATS! 🙂 A wave of excitement passes over you. The possibilities are endless! Until, you have a realization. A pause in the joy. Acceptance means it’s time to actually visit the grad schools and talk with your potential advisors! Ah, crap.

Not to fear my soon-to-be grad student, the hardest part is over. Visiting grad schools was actually an extremely fun experience for me. After all, I got a free trip to whatever city the school was in and got to socialize with people who were in the exact same situation as I am. Plus, for grad school visits there’s always a chance to get free food and alcohol!

Of course, your visit to your potential grad school is also very important. This is where you will really get a feel for if this university is where you want to spend the next 5+ years of your life. After all, this is your chance to see if the university fits the criteria of things you want in a grad school and a chance to ask your potential research advisors important questions about your future in their lab. You know, no pressure.

Anyway (!!), after a very long-winded introduction, below is a list of some advice I have to help you prepare for the grad visits to come! Hope it helps!

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Good days; Bad days.

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There are good days and there are bad days. Oh boy, are there bad days. There are also days that are neither good nor bad, but ultimately they also suck because you just really needed that good day this week and it hasn’t happened yet and someone said something that pissed you off but you didn’t say anything and you’re just on the brink of flipping a table and leaving, but instead you just take an early day and proceed to blast music and drown out your thoughts. That was today. In case anyone cares. Continue reading Good days; Bad days.

10 Perspectives for Prospectives

Hello, my friends!

So, myself and a lot of other people on the interwebs have been celebrating the fact that we’ve survived our first quarter/semester of grad school! Oof! It was quite an emotional rollercoaster, that’s for damn sure. In addition to celebrating, some of the lovely people on Tumblr are also using their first semester experiences to share some insider’s perspective on what those first few months will really be like. I wanted to do the same! (And also wanted a reason to look up gifs in my spare time).

So, below are 10 things that I observed and experienced during my first quarter of grad school! I hope this gives some perspective to those prospective grad students (see what I did there?) who soon be joining in our misery adventures!

Enjoy!

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Don’t ask; Don’t tell: Grad School Edition

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At the time I’m writing this, I should be studying for my final exam that’s occurring two days from now. I should also be trying to wrap up my first mini research project so that I can present to my professor this week to see if I found anything remotely interesting. Even more, I should also be helping my boyfriend with laundry and cooking and chores and other house related things, because I’ve seriously been lacking at all these things, making him pick up the slack.

Life is hard. Grad school makes life harder.

When this post is published, I would have finished the first quarter of my grad school career. It’s a great feat and pretty awesome in the grand scheme of things. But, I am in no mood to celebrate because goddamn it was such a challenge! Worse,  it feels like I haven’t accomplished a damn thing and am not a single step closer to that degree I’ve been dreaming about for years. Talk about a motivation killer, right?

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Choosing a Grad School?

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So, when I was applying to grad school, pretty much my only deciding factor was 1) did they have research I was interested in? 2) where was it located? and 3) did they offer a fee waiver? (No seriously, I didn’t apply to MIT’s Earth Science Department because of this). Now, admittedly, these are very important factors and tend to be some of the main criteria that influence decisions on where to apply/attend. However, I found after actually visiting the schools I was accepted to, this might have been a pretty naive way of making such a big decision.

Of course, what makes a grad school worth attending is completely up to the student whose applying and what they deem important to them. Nevertheless, I’m providing a list of five criteria (in no particular order) that eventually became important to me when I was comparing different schools.

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Applying to Grad School – Jump Starting your Personal Statement

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Personal statements are the absolute WORST! Be it for college or grad school applications, it can be extremely tricky to sell yourself in however many pages schools allot nowadays. It is especially hard for grad schools because you need to somehow summarize all those fancy qualifications you have while making it a bit more interesting than a simple reading of your resume. Ugh. It kind of just makes you want to put them off and procrastinate for as long as possible, huh?

NO! STAHP! DON’T DO IT! DON’T SUCCUMB TO THE NEED TO PROCRASTINATE!

Phew! You still with me here?

Trust me, procrastinating is the last thing you want to do! In fact, having your personal statement done early enough to get a couple of proofreads in can make a world of difference! But how can you get the motivation to even start it?  Hmmm…

Well, here’s some tips and tricks for getting a jump start on writing your personal statement! As the title suggests, I warn that this advice is directed towards grad school applications, but some of the tips are applicable to undergrad applications as well! So behold, personal statement tips (specifically for grad school applications)!

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Grad School Jargon 101

So, I remember when I was applying to different grad schools, there was a lot of jargon on the departmental admission pages, like “Comps,” “Candidacy,” “Assistantship,” etc. I pretty much just assumed I’d figure it out as I went along, and I did, sorta. However, it might have made my life a bit easier if I knew what any of these things meant ahead of time, instead of learning it during orientation when they were explaining to me how to get my PhD…

So, below are some common terms that you’ll see as you look through grad school admission websites and what they mean. I will admit, I had to look some of these up myself because they aren’t relevant to my program (or they are relevant, but I figured I’d just learn what it was last minute :3), so bear with me. Hence the reason for sources! Please correct me if I incorrectly defined anything or let me know if there is anything I should add!

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General Grad School FAQ

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Deciding to attend grad school can be a very scary decision to make. This is especially true if you are the first in your family to do so. I was. I knew nothing about grad school. I didn’t even know it was an option for me until more than half way through my college career, yikes. Yet, somehow, here I am.

Nevertheless, finding answers to all my questions was quite difficult. Either it was personal and I didn’t want to open up that much to my colleagues or I just thought the answer was so obvious that I would look like, for lack of a better word, a dumbass.

Welp, fear no more. Here are some commonly asked questions I’ve found are commonly asked about grad school, yet never truly discussed in pulic. If there are any that you feel I’ve left out, please leave a comment below and add to the conversation!

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Applying to Grad School – Emailing Professors 101

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So it was around this time of month that I had started emailing potential research advisers at the various universities I wanted to attend. I wanted to make sure that before I actually applied to the schools, the professors I liked were accepting students. I mean, there’s no point on waiting an application fee on a school that doesn’t can’t offer you the research you want, right?

Sounds simple enough, until you start writing the email and stare at a blank screen for hours.

Does it make sense? Do I sound desparate? Is it too boring? Is it too long? Will they even read it? What if I sound stupid! Ahhhh! *runs in circles*

Well, having been there merely a year ago, I give to you the recipe for a good introductory email to potential research advisers!

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