In a couple of weeks, I will officially be a senior in college – which means it is time for me to Freak Out.
I’m 99.99% sure I want to go to grad school for my PhD, but that’s about all I know. I’ve been doing research in a lab for the last two and a half years (wow, it’s been that long?) and I absolutely love it. My main problem is that I find so many different things fascinating, that I have a horrible time picking a single topic that I will be focusing on for 3 to 7 years (hopefully closer to 3). If you ask me my interests, I’ll say genetics, evolution, and sex – preferably studying humans, but I’m willing to make exceptions. But if you know much about biology, that doesn’t narrow it down much.
And it seems the way to go about grad school hunting when you’re a go-getting undergrad like myself is to look more at individual professors instead of general programs. It’s not just about going to Harvard or UCLA – these schools are generally great at everything. You want to pick a specific research topic that you love – they’re all wonderful schools for genetics, but only Professor Jones at Suchandsuch University studies the gene regulation of sweat glands in wildebeest. So, this is kind of a problem when you’re like me and you love everything. And of course there isn’t some giant database of every researcher and all of their specific interests. There’s no “What professor should you work with?” Facebook quiz (oh god, thankfully).
Sometimes I wish it was more like recruiting for college sports. I could throw my resume into the mix and professors could try to snatch me up. “3.93 GPA??? Phi Beta Kappa? Publications?? Oh god, work in my lab, I have funding!”
Until the real world turns into my dream world, I guess I’ll just keep searching. Does anyone have grad school hunting tips? What to do or what not to do? Mistakes you made that you wish someone would have warned you about?