Intro: How to chose a grad program, Fact versus Fiction


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  • The school’s webpage is often a really good source of information about faculty members, for instance here’s Emory’s page
  • And for example, we’ll look at Prof. Davies, Felicia’s advisor
  • Aren’t always completely up-to-date, but can usually give you a good idea of their research interests
  • Intro: How to chose a grad program, Fact versus Fiction

    1. 1. Graduate School Prep Club September 19, 2013
    2. 2. Who Are We? The Chemistry Graduate School Prep Club is a partnership initiative between the Spelman Chemistry Club and the NSFCenter for C-H Functionalization at Emory University.
    3. 3. Who Are We? The Chemistry Graduate School Prep Club (GPSC) is an organization devoted to: 1) Preparing undergraduate students for STEM graduate program(s) application process. 2) Developing the essential skills for a successful STEM graduate career. 3) Educating its members on current career options for STEM majors (both traditional and non-traditional) 4) Identifying research opportunities for undergraduate students at R1 institutions and industry. 1) Exposing students to research seminars and laboratory tours
    4. 4. Semester 1 (Sept., Oct., Nov.) 1) Is Graduate School Right for Me? – September 19 a. Graduate School Myths b. How to Choose a Graduate Program c. How to Choose a Research Group/ PI 2) Applying for Graduate School- October 17 a. GRE b. Applications c. Personal Statements d. CV/Resume 3) Gaining Research Experience - November 14 a. Academic Summer Research Programs b. Industrial Internships c. International Opportunities Semester 2 (Jan., Feb., March,April) 1) Careers in Chemistry – January 16 a. Making an Individual Development Plan b. Traditional and Non-traditional Chemistry Careers 2) Essential Skills for Graduate School Part 1: Journal Analysis – Feb 20 3) Essential Skills for Graduate School Part 2: Organization/Literature Searching/ Referencing – March 20 a. Evernote- Electronic Note Taking b. Mendeley- Paper Organization c. Scifinder/Zotero/End Note 4) Journal Scavenger Hunt – April 17 a. Starbucks Gift Card for Scavenger Hunt Winner Outside of Normal Meetings 1) Emory Lab Tours – March/April during Undergraduate Poster Session 2) Seminar – Dr. MacBeth Research Seminar or Admissions Workshop (Fall or Spring) 3) VidYo Seminars in conjunction with CCHF Seminars (Various Dates) a. The Center for Selective C-H Functionalization in conjunction with the Association of Women in Science sponsors various online Career and Research Seminars. The GSPC Leadership Team would like to invite Spelman students to log into these seminars that are broadcasted via the VidYo software. CCHF can sponsor for a VidYo account for Spelman students to use. The Chemistry Graduate School Prep Club is a partnership initiative between the Spelman Chemistry Club and the NSFCenter for C-H Functionalization at Emory University.
    5. 5. Chemistry Research Fellowships & Opportunities for Minority College Students Summer Undergraduate Research Program • Opportunity for research within one of the Center’s 23 labs across the country. • Participate in data collection and analysis, written and oral presentations. • Seminars, workshops, career planning sessions, professional development • Communicating science research workshop One position in the CCHF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program held for a Spelman GSPC participant! • $4000 for 8-10 weeks • 40+ hours/week of research • Housing allowance provided
    6. 6. Is Graduate School Right For Me? September 19, 2013
    7. 7. Fact Or Fiction It isn't worth going unless I get into a top-ranked school or program. Fiction! An advanced degree in a STEM field tells employers you have what it takes to succeed: persistence and determination. It is also a mistake to primarily chose an institution based on its rank. Are you interested in the research taking place at the institution? Be sure to chose a program in which there are several professors whose work interests you. Does your personality fit with the culture of the institution? Do you like the location? These are all questions to consider when applying to graduate school.
    8. 8. Overall Rankings Chemistry 1. Caltech 1. MIT 1. University of California -Berkeley 4. Harvard 4. Stanford 6. University of Illinois -Urbana-Champaign 7. Northwestern 7. Scripps Research Institute 7. University of Wisconsin - Madison Biochemistry 1. Harvard 2. University of California -Berkeley 3. University of California -San Francisco 4. Scripps Research Institute 5. University of Wisconsin -Madison 6. MIT 7. Stanford 8. Caltech 9. Yale 10. University of California -San Diego
    9. 9. Fact Or Fiction My GPA isn’t 4.0 but I should apply to top tier schools anyway. Fact! Graduate school committees consider more than just your grades. Research experience as well as extracurricular activities weigh heavy for graduate acceptance committees. Your recommendation letters and personal statement are IMPORTANT. The scientific community is small. Ask your professors to not only write you a recommendation but also help/recommend schools that you should consider. Big name Schools and PI’s are great, but realize there are around 200 graduate programs in chemistry out there! Create a list that incorporates dream schools and safe schools.
    10. 10. Fact Or Fiction I don’t want to be professor so graduate school isn’t for me Fiction! There are a number of careers outside of academia that require a masters degree and beyond, everything from industry to patent law. Asking a potential PI, where their former graduate students ended up is a great way of learning about potential careers in STEM.
    11. 11. Fact Or Fiction It can be expensive to attend a top ranked school, so consider state schools as well. Fiction! Most STEM PhD programs are funded and you receive a stipend: THIS MEANS YOU ARE PAID TO GO TO SCHOOL. There are also various graduate fellowships available through the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Health (NIH), as well as private donors and the university. Funding is an important topic you should be researching when considering a research group. Do they have funding? How much funding is available? The amount of funding a PI (Primary Investigator) has can determine how much or how little you will have to act as a teaching assistant.
    12. 12. Fact Or Fiction Choosing a group is a more important decision than which school I go to. Fact! Your advisor is the most important person in you graduate career and your research project will be your life for the next 5+ years so your choice in group will have a huge impact on your success in graduate school. Think about what you want out of an advisor and out of your research group, and what is right for you. How involved you want your advisor to be? Do you want to interact with them every day/week/month? Tenured or not tenured? Big group or small group? How much does everyone teach? How many undergraduate students are they mentoring? Where do group members go after they graduate? Is the advisor supportive of ‘alternative’ careers?
    13. 13. Fact Or Fiction Graduate school takes longer for some people than it does for others. Fact! Although the average time to completion is 5-6 years, graduate school is based on your research. When your research is at a stage that is it complete or can be completed by someone else, then you graduate. This time scale can be largely dependent upon the research group. An important question to ask potential PI is, “what is the average time for graduation?”
    14. 14. Fact Or Fiction I don’t know what else to do and I did well in undergrad so I should go to graduate school. Fiction! Many often find themselves in this predicament. Realize that graduate school is a COMMITMENT. Completing a graduate program requires long hours and hard work! Do not explore this option if you are not up for the challenge!!!
    15. 15. Fact Or Fiction Applications are primarily due in the spring of senior year so fall semester should be focused on courses and research, winter break is a good opportunity to start looking at and visiting some potential graduate programs. Fiction! If you are a senior wanting to attend graduate school next year you should be deciding which schools to apply to, taking the GRE, and writing personal statements in the fall. And there is no need to visit, once you are accepted they will fly you out to visit their campus Even before senior year there are plenty of things you can be doing to prepare for graduate school -begin doing undergraduate research and maybe a research program during the summer. -as you read journal articles pay attention to who’s work it is and learn about research from faculty at other schools.
    16. 16. Senior Year •October -request recommendation letters/transcripts -Register for GRE/chemistry GRE •November -Take GRE (or earlier), chemistry GRE (October or November) •October—Mar 1 -Apply to schools (look at your choices’ deadlines) •Jan/Feb -Hear back from schools •Feb/March -Visit accepted schools •April 15 -Deadline to accept or decline
    17. 17. Visitation Weekend •Travel/accommodations usually covered •Learn more about faculty research •Talk with current students •Ask how much they publish, how much they talk to their advisor, where do graduate from their group end up, how long does the average student take to finish, how much they teach, what are qualifying exams like, what percentage of incoming grad students finish their PhD versus leave with a master’s… •Atmosphere of the program!
    18. 18. Fact Or Fiction I didn’t get accepted; no problem, I can apply again next year. Fact! Admission rates are low and depend on a number of factors, including funding. Some years funding is very tight and acceptance rates are extremely low. This is why it is important to contact a potential PI early. This way they can advocate for you! If you don’t get in to the graduate program of your choice the first time you apply, get some experience in industry or as a post-bac in an academic lab. It will make your application stronger the next time around.
    19. 19. Questions? This work was supported by the NSF under the CCI Center for Selective C–H Functionalization, CHE-1205646 Any opinions, findings or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF