Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Your Guide to Grad School: Part 1

Considering graduate school? Now that I've survived an entire year and am well into the process of writing my thesis and applying to PhD programs, I thought it would be helpful to share my perspective.

1. When you're considering programs, make a list of what you're looking for: professors with certain interests, percentage of students who get funded, library size, etc.

2. Contact professors at every school you're applying to. If possible, visit every school. An in-person presence makes a big difference as far as seeing if you really like the place and could up your chances of getting money in the department.

3. Even if you did well in your field as an undergrad, consider reading the basic books of the field the summer before. That way it won't feel like a huge onslaught when you're dumped on with thirty thick theoretical books.

4. Talk to older grad students. My first year, I literally would have been clueless if I didn't follow the lead or ask questions of the second-year students. They were experts on what classes were good, getting summer positions, preparing a thesis committee, and choosing PhD programs.

5. Work as a TA. If you want to be in academia, you need to do this. Maybe working as a TA will clue you in that you DON'T want to teach, but if you're like me, it will confirm your career choice.

More grad school posts on the way...

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