Six (6) Strategies for Success in Graduate School

Horacio de la Iglesia, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Washington (UW) was recently invited to speak to a group of UW graduate school students. Iglesia, provided an informative session on how underrepresented minorities can succeed in graduate school. The discussion covered a variety of topics ranging from what it means to be an underrepresented minority to how to recruit a person outside your department to sit on your dissertation committee.

Points related to being an underrepresented minority included:

  • If you succeed, some will say it’s because you’re an underrepresented minority and that you had many opportunities or that you are an exception
  • If you fail, some will say it’s because you’re an underrepresented minority and that they didn’t expect you to make it
  • The best thing you can do to help underrepresented minorities is succeed in graduate school
  • Underrepresented minority or not the rules of the game are the same for everybody

There were also several tips that all students would find useful. Among them were

  1. Having a very good communication flow with your adviser is essential for success
  2. Any loyalties that get in the way of your PhD [or any degree] is not one you should be in
  3. Think about your research in printable/publishable units
  4. A written list of goals may be intimidating because you are more accountable, but will keep you focused too
  5. Get advice from everybody
  6. Remember there are “somethings” you can sacrifice in terms of quality [not a license to complete things haphazardly]

Are there any strategies that did not make this list that you think should have? What are you waiting for, share it in the comments section below!

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