Post-Fall Term Musings

The Fall term of 2011 has officially ended and I’m glad it’s over. Well, technically it ended last Tuesday, but I’ve been feeling too lazy to do anything that involved thinking; AKA blogging. At the end of each term I have a tendency to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what new lessons were learned. This Fall term was unique because I had to learn to balance my research with my classes. Up till now, my research has been confined to the Summer when I wasn’t taking any classes. I found this beneficial because it lit a fire under my ass to keep up with my studies, and also served as a reminder to keep working hard to achieve my goals.

So, I thought I’d put together a small list of some of the more important concepts I learned this term. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Always read your syllabus: You know that piece of paper your professor gives you at the beginning of each term? That one with important dates and deadlines? They don’t put that together for shits and giggles. Read it. Otherwise you’ll end up like me and realize that a few days before finals, you have all of them on the same day.

2. Projects and research: When working with your advisor, even as an undergraduate, come prepared to all your meetings. Be prepared to tell them what you’ve done, what you’ve read and what you’re next step is in completing the project they’ve entrusted to you. Don’t give them any reason to think you’re wasting their time.

3. Set backs: Life is full of them. This occurred when I realized that my version of Leica Software (the interface between the computer and microscope) wasn’t as fully functional as my advisors. I had to make some adjustments and I’m still working on getting the software to my liking. The important part is that I made do with what I had and kept going.

4. Be the over achiever: Did you do all the problems your instructor assigned in the syllabus? You did? Great! Now, go do more problems from the book because chances are you’re still not prepared for the exam.

5. Relax: Go have a pint with your fellow students and remember you’re not the only one going through the stresses of a final project. Sometimes taking a break with your classmates is a good way to gain some perspective and pluck yourself out of the “woe is me” stage we all go through from time to time.

Any fellow students/teachers have anything else to add to the list?

2 thoughts on “Post-Fall Term Musings

  1. Your comments are dead on. I’m a science prof on the other side of your coin and the points you make are exactly what I try and convey to my students but of course, they mostly think I am just being a ball-breaker. I’m not – the items on your list are points on the roadmap to success and why bother with the classes and study if you are not trying to succeed.

    This is a really great list. Do you mind if I use this for my classes as the perspective of a student? I have done things like record 2 minute videos of students who achieved success – where they talk about what is really important to succeed. Your list will be a great addition to my attempts at creating a successful environment.

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