I noticed a trend lately: my page view numbers are quite boosted compared to my number of unique visitors (see blue charts below). My lab mates and I have hypothesized that this odd pattern correlates to around the same time that the PSU interview requests were sent out to potential grad students. Or, you know, maybe it's just my parents and boyfriend reading it all because they feel like they have to, but I prefer to think that people considering graduate school, or higher ed in general, are reading my blog. If that is the case, then this post is for you (and good luck with your interviews!!!)
I was different because I liked reading more than I liked talking to people most of the time. I was a little bit odd because at 5 years old I wanted to be a marine biologist, not at all like my sister's goal of becoming a mermaid (true story). My family has always been quick to point out how quirky and unusual my interests are to them, and it's all stemmed from my lifelong aim to be a scientist. My reason is a simple one: there's just too much in the universe for my curiosity to ever be satisfied.
One of the many steps required to earn the scientist title was acquiring an education suited for my interests. It was one of my fifth grade teachers that told me of a seemingly magical high school about 30 minutes drive from my house where the students learned how to become marine biologists. I was privileged to grow up within the bounds of the Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD).
MCVSD Mission Statement
"The Monmouth County Vocational School District prepares students for an evolving workplace, lifelong learning and further education through specialized academics, career and technical programs and achievement of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards."
My four years of high school were absolutely amazing! I played field hockey for my hometown high school because MCVSD schools didn't have sports teams. I was enrolled in a curriculum where I not only was guided by the scientific method and acquiring skills for conducting research projects, but where I was also enlisted in a Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC).
- Get in touch with people you are interested in working with before your interviews. Grad students, PIs, technicians, whomever, just let people know that you exist and are excited to meet potential future colleagues and coworkers.
- Ask lots of questions about funding for grad students and graduate program requirements (such as teaching time and number of required classes) during your interviews. Know what to expect from the program you're about to pledge several years of your life to before you actually accept the offer. Even the requirements between departments of the same institution can be dramatically different.
- Ask the current grad students in your prospective program about how they like living in the area, food options, hobbies, and the things they do to decompress. PSU ended up being perfect for Daniel and I because we apparently really enjoy living in a state that isn't New Jersey (for a number of reasons, please don't jump to any weird conclusions. We generally just like a bit less people and a few more trees than we grew up with.)
- Email me if you need someone to vent to during your application process. I'm serious. I've been there, Daniel's been there, and it's a doozy of a thing to go through, so if I can attempt to relieve anyone's stresses during their time of need then I would certainly like to try.