Category Archives: Preparing for Grad School

Caltech’s Chemistry Graduate Program

ct_cellularsignaling_spotlightOh hi there! I see you’re interested in applying to Caltech’s chemistry program. I’m assuming that you stopped by our Graduate Program Website before heading this way, but perhaps just got a bit overwhelmed with all the information university websites seem to throw at you and the various different links you have to click through to get any useful information… It’s okay. I felt the same way. That’s why I’m going to provide a more digestible version, with the addition of my own insight and advice I’ve formulated from my experiences thus far.

Last edited on 10/19/18.

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Academic CVs

15468283-cv-curriculum-vitae-concetto-di-tag-cloud-parola-su-sfondo-biancoWhat is an academic CV?

A CV (or curriculum vitae if you want to be fancy) is essentially a resume. However, unlike a resume it’s not typically a nice one page summary of your most recent skills and experiences. Rather, a curriculum vitae (meaning “course of life” in Latin) is a much more comprehensive document that gives an overview of all your academic accomplishments over the span of multiple pages. In general, CVs are most commonly used when searching for academic positions and should show a detailed summary of your professional experiences and educational background. This means including sections such as research opportunities, internship experiences, teaching appointments, etc.
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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?
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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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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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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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