Now that September is full swing, this year’s application cycle for graduate school is well under way. Around this same time in 2013, my undergraduate research mentor reached out to me to let me know that he was submitting the manuscript from my research (that I did back in 2008) for publication. Before this point, I had been teetering with idea of going to graduate school since I was not climbing the corporate ladder fast enough. However, I did not consider myself a competitive candidate. Once I got his email that said that I would be a co-first author on a publication, I knew that it was now or never.
Before I started applying to graduate schools, I went back to my alma mater (Notre Dame) to meet with my undergraduate research mentor in person to get advice on how to be a competitive applicant for that year’s application cycle. He offered two pieces of advice that I think that all prospective graduate students should follow:
make a list of schools to apply to that have AT LEAST three or four research faculty that I would be interested in working for. That way, if I don’t get my first or second choice, I wouldn’t regret my decision for attending a particular school
only consider research faculty that have research that you are genuinely interested in and NOT the person’s name/fame
My biggest reasons for choosing IU for graduate school is that I was interested in several of the research faculty at IU and the state of the art mass spectrometry facilities. I originally came into IU as an analytical chemistry major. However, while doing summer research prior to my first year officially beginning in August, I decided that I wanted to go back to organic chemistry. I am incredibly thankful that IU was a place that allowed me to change majors without any hassle. If I had picked a university where I was not interested in multiple research faculty, I do not think the transition would have been as successful.
In the image above, you could see the recruitment fair, where about 1000 energetic undergraduate and master’s students are exploring opportunities for graduate studies at more than 300 colleges and universities across the nation. This is the “California Forums for Diversity in Graduate Education”. I had the opportunity to visit the forum at University of California at Santa Barbara on November 7 on behalf of the University Graduate School of Indiana University.
Personally, I learned a lot about California from talking to the participants, Continue reading →
This morning at 8am, I joined my U215 students (freshmen Hudson & Holland Scholars) in our discussion section where we engaged in a very robust conversation regarding the “college for all” crusade and the question of whether or not a college education is really the “golden ticket” to success. My students, who are extremely bright and vocal, shared their various opinions, but by the end of the conversation, they all reached the same conclusion: college is definitely worth it.
As a graduate student, there are times when I ask myself, “Is this thing called graduate school really worth my time, effort, sleepless nights, MONEY, and all of the other sacrifices I have given and continue to give for this PhD?” Even though I have these moments that sometimes manifest themselves in the form of griping and complaining, I still manage to draw the same conclusions as my students: It really is worth it!
If you are grappling with the question: “To go or not to go to graduate school?'” because of the major costs involved (in terms of dollars and cents and the intangible things like time), do not let those thoughts deter you from pursuing a graduate degree. Yes, it’s important to count up the cost, but do not get so wrapped up in the costs that you negate the benefits, both tangible and intangible. Be your own cheerleader and encourage yourself as you prepare your application. Speak to mentors, faculty members, others in your field about your decision. Extra affirmation is always a good thing. It’s simple. If you really see yourself conducting research, diving deep into areas of interest and informing the work in that field, go for it!
Many students every year face the dilemma whether they should retake the GRE or not. There is no standardized answer to this question. But one must consider different factors to decide if retaking is in their interest or not.
First of all, one must understand the admission process. Independent of what school or what program you are applying, your application is evaluated considering many of your qualifications. GRE is only one of them. Not necessarily, the most important by any means. A typical admission committee consists of Continue reading →
When one is asked to research potential graduate school programs, what exactly does that consist of? Similar to researching for an undergraduate institution, this process is just a level above as the decision you make could help catapult your career. The three things people most commonly should look for are:
1. Does the school have the program that you want? Make sure the school has the department and program that most interest you. You also want to make sure that the institution you are considering has at least 3 professors (or advisors) you would like to work for, just in case your top choice is unable to take you for any reason (i.e. loss of funding, does not have enough space to accommodate you, denied tenure, etc.).
2. Location, location, location. When drafting a list of potential schools, know what states or countries will be compatible with you. Remember, this program will last anywhere for 4-7 years so make sure you pick a place where you can deal with the weather and cost of living. A trap that some students get caught up in is the stipend amount; make sure to take into account the cost of living. For example, if you are offered a place in Indiana with a stipend of $24,000 a year and offered a place in California for $27,000 a year, even though the California position is offering more money, you will get more “bang for you buck” in Indiana due to the cost of living.
3. Know the rank of the institution. It is important to know how the programs you are interested in ranks nationally. While you should not limit yourself to only ranked programs, getting your degree from a nationally recognized institution in your field can give you an edge when it is time for you to start applying for jobs. The ranking of various graduate programs can be found here:http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools.
Other concerns such as having a family, medical conditions and job restrictions may also add into your choice for a graduate school.
I was driving to Bloomington, my normal routine every morning my first semester of graduate school. Now I know you’re wondering, “Why drive fifty miles back and forth every day? Why didn’t you move to Bloomington?” This is when the flashback noise would begin and the water effect would take you and I back to January 2012. Continue reading →
BOO! Image taken from http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/haunted-house-wallpapers.html
TUITION! FEES! BILLS! Words scarier than the most blood curdling horror story for a graduate student. I think the biggest concern for graduate students right after getting accepted, is figuring out how to pay for your new life as a burgeoning academic. It should come as no surprise that the pathway to higher education is never one paved in gold, with money trees and cash bushes lining the sides; the “poor college student” narrative tends to transform itself into the slightly more adult sounding “destitute graduate student” memoir. This should be looked at as an expectation, rather than a fear, however. There are ways of paying for it!
At the beginning of my senior year, I happened to unfortunately be one of those soon-to-be matriculating undergraduates that didn’t know what they were going to do. At the beginning of my undergraduate career, I knew the next 5 years of my life but of course, my path in life changed a couple of times that I never really made an updated 5-year plan.
I applied to various jobs sectors and when interviews never really felt “right”, I then looked into graduate school. I actively asked my friends and family members what they were thinking and given what they knew about me, what did they see me doing (and more specifically what program). I’m really glad that Continue reading →
AMPATH is one of the main reasons that I chose a doctoral program in Epidemiology at IU. AMPATH, the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, was established in 2001 as a partnership between Indiana University School of Medicine, Moi University School of Medicine, and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). Continue reading →