Part 2: What do you want from me? Applying to STEM Graduate Programs

Author’s Note:  I’ve been working on some version of this post for over three years.  During that time, so many folks have provided feedback.  Thanks to Katie SmithJoanna SolinsPriya ShuklaJordan HollersmithAviva Rossi, and (as always) Meridith Bartley.  Any omissions of important information are mine, but many of the most valuable bits of knowledge come from these individuals.

If you haven’t read Part One in this series, please consider giving it a quick peek. Applying to STEM graduate programs is a long, stressful, multifaceted journey. In the previous post, we covered what resources you may already have at your disposal, how to get in contact with potential graduate mentors, and what information you’re likely to want to share with them during this initial contact. That sounds like a lot, but there’s even more to cover! With this half of our guide we will detail what additional components you must compile to submit as part of an application to a research program. 

Baby Bachelor Scientistas

Taking Required Entrance Exams (August-December)

Graduate schools often want you to report scores from a few major exams.  This requirement is currently in flux, so it’s worth it to check carefully to see what each school you are interested in requires.  Preparing for these exams is a big part of preparing for your graduate school application. You can dramatically improve your scores by taking advantage of the training materials ahead of time.  While these tests are important, most graduate programs do not use these scores as the only metric to judge your application. In addition to several departments removing the GRE as a requirement altogether, others are decreasing the weight given to the GRE during the admissions process. It’s important to do your best and, once the test is complete, shift your focus to making the rest of your application as strong as possible.   

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Sweet Link ParTEA (September 2018)

Last week was a garbage fire, with the news and all.  As a result, I’m (Rachel) going to give myself a pass on this post being many days late.  We hope these links give you a good distraction and help you welcome in October and the changing seasons. 

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This is a fascinating article about methane entering the atmosphere from thawing permafrost.  They dive into an arctic lake!  “Overall, if Walter Anthony’s findings are correct, the total impact from thawing permafrost could be similar to adding a couple of large fossil-fuel-emitting economies – say, two more Germanys – to the planet. “

If you want to up your #SciComm game check out this huge, free resource.

This is a very thoughtful piece about how teaching students the common underlying point of statistical tests might help them learn more, as opposed to parading as many tests as possible out over the course of the term.

Want to check out a fascinating and strangely beautiful #DataViz of how random the success of an individual published work can be?  Click right here.  I found this weirdly mesmerizing.   

The Atlantic takes a stark look at what was lost in the burning of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the month.  “Many of these presumably lost specimens were holotypes—the first, best, and most important examples of their kind.”  We both thought this fire was significant and each added an article about it.  This one does a really nice job of putting into context the importance of museum specimens to ongoing research efforts.

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Photo Post: Last PhD Field Season

Welp, that title is actually a bit of a misnomer.  I really have about 4 more days of field work that I need to knock out over the next week or so.  DETAILS.  I know I wrote a lot recently about how stressful the summer can be for me.  It’s my busiest time of the year, field work is exhausting, and I probably don’t get enough alone time to really recharge (#introvertprobs).  But, more than any of those less positive things, I really love how much time I get to spend outside each field season.  I know I really like it, because I take about a zillion obnoxious iPhone pictures in the marsh each summer.

For your enjoyment, here is the view of my summer, from my smart phone.

Honest Tea gave me this gem on a day when I really needed it.img_7866 Continue reading “Photo Post: Last PhD Field Season”