Twenty things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD

I have recently posted a number of great articles with advice for young scientists. While some of the advice can be similar, you could never hear this too often! This list of 20 pieces of advice might seem a bit daunting (I might have been overwhelmed reading this during my graduate career!), I think you should really take it in and try to incorporate at least a couple of these things that you don’t already do! It is spot on! Don’t worry, no one will be perfect in following all of this advice, but hopefully doing some of this will make an impact!

Is “optional” really “optional” for submitting GRE scores?

As you may be aware, many biology and biomedical graduate programs have eliminated the GRE as a requirement for their applications. While some schools have completely removed the GRE as a part of the application, many others now list the GRE as “optional”. So, what does “optional” really mean and are committees still expecting you to list scores?
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Simple Beginnings

To those of you at Vandy, you are familiar with our Simple Beginnings, white coat ceremony. For those of you not here, you should know that we celebrate the beginning of our students’ scientific journeys with an event that equally congratulates the start of their graduate experience while also highlighting the importance of their position in the community. It is open to friends and family, and it is one of my favorite parts of the year! This year, one of our older graduate students delivered a meaningful speech that highlights the transition to graduate school. I thought it was worth posting, both to repeat this for our first years and to highlight the journey for prospective students. Enjoy!
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An SDS Excerpt: “Writing to Understand”

Today I am thrilled to highlight a guest post from “Sabrina Does Science”, a blog started by a Vanderbilt IGP student, Sabrina Van Ravenstein, during her first year at Vandy. Sabrina decided to start her blog about the academic sciences to offer her own unique perspective as a woman in the scientific field as well as offer advice to newer or potential grad students. This is a great example post, and you should check out more of her stuff on her blog!
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Letter to My Younger Self: Advice for Graduate School

Have you heard of the NIH BEST schools? These are graduate programs that won a grant to fund initiatives to support career development. Vanderbilt was among the first to win and has served as the coordinating institution for all BEST institutions. They also have an incredible blog for grad students and postdocs. One of my favorite recent posts provides incredible advice for students starting a graduate program! Read this now and read it often to remind yourself of these important points!

Work-life balance

Your time in grad school is definitely one of growth. As one of my awesome students just put it bluntly today, graduate school is definitely difficult but it shouldn’t be a pity party. One of the best ways to keep it from veering in that direction is by balancing hard work and dedication in the lab with a healthy life. Check out this recent series by Nature to get perspective and remind yourself of the importance of both sides of the balancing act.

Tips for your Summer Research Program

You’ve been inundated with opportunities for summer research experience, and you’ve probably gotten guidance on how to choose the right experience for you. But how should you prepare during this semester for something that seems so far away? Check out this webinar from ABRCMS and ASM for tips on how to best prepare so you can start off right! You might see a familiar face…

(If you watch and you’re wondering, yes, I did record this on my bed with my cats meowing in the background)