So it is that time of the year again: IBH students are running off to graduate schools, medical schools (or other professional schools), and their first “real-world” jobs. Some of you are probably wondering how to get into the graduate school of your dreams. While I am definitely no authority in that area and there are numerous how-to resources available on the internet, I thought I would write up an article on the ten best ways NOT to get into graduate school. So here it goes:
10. Not listening to your closest friends.
Sure, they don’t know how you feel, but that might be a good thing since they CAN SEE the amount of stress you’re going through. While this might be hard to believe, from your friends’ perspectives, you started off looking like Thomas the Train…
"I think I can, I think I can."
…but by mid-semester, ending up looking like a train wreck.
"Yo, what's up guys? No, I'm fine, why?"
9. Not listening to your academic advisor.
Not listening to your friends is one thing, but it takes a special blend of arrogance and a naïve-nature to not heed your academic advisor’s warnings. Chances are that you’re not the first overly-ambitious student to walk into his/her office so this is a time to listen! Yes, taking an x amount of credit hours over 18 might be okay, but you should listen to what taking those extra x hours means. Also if your advisors look like this…
…then you should really know to listen!
8. Listening to your first immigrant or non-college educated parents a bit too much.
Ah yes, disregarding the advice of the people who interact with you on a daily basis and your academic advisor is totally logical when you take up the advice of your parents who never went through the American university system themselves. Their anecdotal stories of how Susie Q. was able to go through college while taking 22 credit hours each semester, completing multiple majors, being involved in no less than five clubs (with leadership positions, of course), having a full-time job, doing research, maintaining a 4.0 gpa, and getting college totally paid for sounds like a lot of bull crap, but you’ll buy into it anyway and try to be Susie Q. (who is probably the collective sum of all the positives of the children from your parents’ coworkers). Point is, there is no Susie Q., and even if there was, you’re not Susie Q. So when the going gets though, it’s time to listen to your friends and advisors.
7. Being pre-occupied with funding college.
College is expensive, but it is also one of the most important investments you’ll (probably) ever make. While it would be nice to have college paid for, spending hours completing scholarship applications for the “write-10-pages-describing-your-most-whatever-moment-in-your-life” to try to earn an insignificant amount of $100 is probably not the best use of your time. Focusing on keeping your GPA up will bring in greater awards anyway (by allowing you to apply for scholarships that actually take a significant amount of your load) and is a much better use of your time. In the end, if you have to take up a lot of loans, just remember that your future job will help pay all those off
6. Not finishing what you started is a terrible idea! actually totally okay.
Your first priority as a college student is to finish college well. All other priorities come secondary. Have to choose between studying for orgo or helping with finishing decorating for the program you suggested at your residence hall? Choose studying. Especially since when you're done studying for your classes, you should start studying for your GREs or MCAT (or whatever). Don’t feel guilty for not helping finish a project that a group of other people are equally excited for, but don't show up to help for. The same goes for all other activities (i.e. clubs, meetings, job, etc...)
This is totally okay.
5. Assuming higher level courses will become relatively easier compared to your core courses.
I have heard over and over again that higher level courses are relatively easier compared to your core courses and its true to some degree, but don’t let that get into your head. They only appear easier because of the hard work ethic you’ve built in the first couple years (the curve helps too). I don't know what this is doing here at number 5...this should've been number 10. Anyway, point is, focus on your current courses with the same level you always have (unless your focus level was low to begin with). If you have to, take another semester or two to finish your degree.
4. Conducting your research for your senior thesis with very limited adviser interaction (whether that adviser be a professor or a graduate student).
If there is one thing I could change about my undergraduate research, it would be to work under more guidance. Although the initial amount of control I had over the project was very appealing, there was a lot of time spent reinventing the wheel as each mistake made me realize that it could have been prevented with just a little bit more knowledge or experience. You couple that with a project that is relatively unfunded, you will not only be searching for money to pay for school, but for money to pay for your undergraduate research.
The ideal undergrad research experience. Thesis entitled "The variation in madreporite size in Pisaster brevispinus at Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii."
The less ideal undergrad research experience. Thesis entitled "The variation in asinine responses to fire by undergraduate Homo sapiens at John G. Smithe Hall in Champagne, Illinois."
3. Not budgeting your time correctly.
The current state and national monetary budget crises should give you a glimpse of the disaster of poor budgeting skills.
Pretty soon, you’ll start “borrowing” time from other projects and activities and to “pay back” for that “borrowed” time, you’ll start “borrowing” from even more places. The path is totally unsustainable. There aren’t enough seconds in a day to fuel all your ambitions just as there isn’t enough money to fund every single government program or misadventure. In short, if you don't have a Time-Turner like Hermione or can't steal more time like that Timberlake fellow, then you're better off budgeting what you have and not wasting it.
IBH students travel the world, publish research papers, and do all sorts of amazing things