Succeeding as a Graduate Student

Getting into gradschool may be challenging, but being successful as a student is even more so. Please check out this ppt for some useful tips.

If you are a graduate student in our lab you should also consider the following:

1) How much should I work? Being a graduate student is a full-time job and can be more than that… You should put in enough time to make progress with your project and for you to achieve decent grades in your modules. Your goal should be to get your degree and a couple of publications at the same time. This may require more effort for one student than another as it depends on prior training background, skills and luck… So one cannot put a number on this. Simply try your best.

2) When should I be in the lab? You should spend enough time in the lab as needed for your project. Especially during the first phases of your candidacy, when you’re trying to get your experiments running and when you are analyzing data. During this time, your interactions with your supervisor are likely more frequent and to enable efficient communication, it is necessary that both of you overlap some number of hours during working days. Therefore, students working with Annett are expected to be in the lab at least by 11:00 am in the morning. If you cannot come to the lab due to illness, please inform your supervisor. You may also discuss spending a longer period away from the lab when you are writing manuscripts or your thesis.

3) When should I hand in drafts for comments? When you submit a manuscript, thesis draft, or another write-up for comments to your supervisor, the expectation is that your supervisor would go through two drafts: a first draft to suggest changes and a second draft to see how you implemented those changes. Some times, more draft readings will be necessary. For this to be possible, you have to plan ahead and submit early enough to allow your supervisor to arrange the time necessary to work through your write-up. As a rule of thumb, short write-ups (i.e., ~2 pages) should be submitted at least one week before they are due, longer write-ups (e.g., manuscripts, thesis proposal) should be submitted at least 4 weeks before they are due. The first draft of your thesis (Masters/PhD) should be submitted at least 2 months before you plan to submit. Here it is also crucial that you discuss what goes in the draft (i.e., outline) with your supervisor BEFORE you start writing.

4) How often should I meet my supervisor? In our lab, meetings are often spontaneous. You might see your supervisor visiting the lab and take the opportunity to casually discuss your doings. A typical frequency for purposeful meetings would be once every two weeks. However, this depends on your needs and the stage of your project. You should request meetings whenever you think them necessary. Your supervisor will check in from time to time to see how things are going.

5) How can I book lab time for my experiments? As a graduate student, you have priority in lab access over undergraduate students and you can arrange your bookings using our google calender. Before you make a booking you must be invited to join the calender so talk to the RAs in the experimental lab and they will send you the invite. If you have trouble finding time to schedule your experiments, please talk to your supervisor. But as for everything else, try to plan ahead to avoid problems.

6) Who should I talk to when I face problems? Please talk to your supervisor! S/he is the person to help when something goes awry with your project, when you score poorly in your modules or when you have trouble keeping deadlines. You may also talk to your supervisor if you have personal problems. Likely your supervisor cannot help in the latter. However, s/he is then better able to understand why you might be distracted at work and can possibly help with temporary workload offsets.

Please leave a comment if you have questions or concerns regarding the information on this site.