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Graduate School vs. Undergraduate School

  • Graduate school is way different from any school up to this point. It is not about learning what you are required to learn, as has been your previous experience. It is all about figuring out what you want to learn, figuring out how to learn it and becoming an expert at it.

Coursework and Research

  • Participate in a journal club closely related to your field. It was a very positive experience and forced me to read and present papers, which was really good for me.
  • Choose courses directly related to what you are interested in.
  • Get started on your thesis/dissertation project as soon as possible!
  • Choose your coursework wisely so that it contributes to your project rather than distracting from it.
  • Keep detailed lab notes. Make a goal to read a paper per week in your field.

How to succeed in Graduate School

  • Pick an advisor whose mentoring style will mesh with your learning style.
  • Be patient with yourself. You are not going to conceive and design a great research project overnight.
  • Talk to as many people as you can about what you are doing and talk to them about what they are doing. You never know where you will get an idea or who can help you.
  • Be ready to work independently. Know yourself. Pursue your passion.
  • Plan well to pace yourself appropriately. Work closely with your professors.

Preparing for a Career

  • As you enter grad school, determine your long-term goal, and make sure you are planning everything with that goal in mind.
  • Have a clear post-graduate plan and several back-up plans.
  • Diversify the schools you get your degrees from if you are planning to go into academia. In other words, don't get your Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, and PhD all from the same institution.
  • Independently identify opportunities to attend and present at conferences. Ask around your lab to find projects to present on if your own research is not ready yet. You can never have too much presentation practice.