Part 1: How do I get in? 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 Smith, Joanna Solins, Priya Shukla, Jordan Hollersmith, Aviva 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.  

Starting the graduate school application journey can be an intimidating prospect.  Emailing potential mentors, figuring out funding, writing a CV, and the other steps that go into the process are time consuming and challenging, even when you know exactly what to expect.  I’ve seen a lot of discussions on Twitter recently about the hidden curriculum of academia (my husband recommended this book when we were discussing the concept of hidden curriculum). Here is my crack at making this process a little more transparent.  I imagine lots of these thoughts apply broadly, but this post is geared toward applying for graduate school in STEM.  I hope the following guide can ease your passage down the path toward a completed graduate school application.

As a result of trying to cover a lot, I’ve divided this into two parts.  In part 1, I will talk about how to contact folks who could be your adviser during your graduate program, which is the first step to applying to most STEM graduate programs.  In part 2, I will discuss preparing your graduate school application materials and preparing for graduate school interviews.

First things first.  Before you begin the process of applying for graduate school, it’s good to get mentally prepared.  This is going to be a stressful period in your life. It takes a lot of time and brain power to do the research, writing, GRE studying, and interview preparation that comes along with getting into a graduate program.  You’ll be doing all this on top of your current responsibilities as a student or employee. Keep your goals firmly in mind and remember, no matter how much it doesn’t feel like it now, you will be done with this process someday soon!  You have a lot to recommend you, don’t forget that.    

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The Bodega Marine Lab during my graduate school interview.

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Sweet Link ParTEA (October 2018)

Don’t worry, y’all, we’ve still got nearly a week left of October! I’ve been here, there, and everywhere this month, so it’s been such a treat to sit down and read through our saved links for this month. Does it help that I’m working on this post over a solo dinner at my favorite State College bar (Chumley’s – this is fact) over a cheese sammie and some veg soup? Yes. Yes it does. I had the most delicious hot toddy, so it really had that ParTEA element! Treat yo’selves to a quiet evening of a hot beverage + lots of reading. You’ve worked hard, and we see you.

Trans rights are human rights. We’ve got not one, but two articles and a Twitter thread about how the idea of 2 genders is biologically and socially over simplistic. We can do better, and being informed is one of many steps we need to be taking.

I was going to move this link down in the list but let’s just pull of the bandaid. The EPA is planning on Discontinuing a Senior Science Advisor Position. And that sucks, but I am so excited to VOTE.

This next story elicited an “OMG that’s so cool” from my lips within seconds. I bet your nearest state park doesn’t have UNDERWATER TRAILS. Note: Pictured is Rachel, myself, and our college roommates during our trip near the site of this trail; I would NOT have been up for exploring the under water route. 

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I want to see mountains! Last day in Yellowstone

Long time readers may recall that shortly after completing our MS degrees (er…we were both so close to finishing, it counts) in the summer of 2012, we embarked on a celebratory adventure lovingly referred to as the Amazing Besties National Park Road Trip.  At first, we were blogging contemporaneously, then we were slowly catching up, then…  The last post in the series was written in October 2014, fully two years after we got back from our two month stent of life on the road!

Like all good Type As, this incomplete set of posts has been bugging us for ages.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had the time to go back through our journals to recall details, and the days without journal entries have gotten fuzzy around the edges.  We still wanted to share our amazing experience exploring public lands with you all!  To this end, over the next few months we will periodically be putting up posts that are mostly pictures from our trip with a few bits of memories that come to mind as we put together the images.  This was one of the most epic friend adventures either of us have ever had, so if you like best friend hijinks these posts are for you.  If you’re into pretty photos of natural wonders, you have come to the right place!  10 states. 9 National Parks and 1 National Monument. One summer of fun!

Want to catch up?  Check out the rest of the series here.

Day 16
Yellowstone National Park
Homeland of the Cheyenne, Apsaalooké, Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Salish-Kootenai***

When last you left us, we were tired after a day spent watching wildlife, checking out lakes, and learning about early tourists in the park.  Today, on the recommendation of our all time favorite park rangers, the married couple Jim and Dot, we were going to climb two different mountains. (More heart eyes about Dot and Jim here.)

First up, Avalanche Peak.

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