Blogs: Fear and Failure

Ask and you shall receive

How grad school put me on a healthier path

Jun 2020
Biological Engineering
It was my first semester of grad school, and I was curled up in a ball on my dorm room bed. I was experiencing a distinct mixture of flu-like symptoms and crushing dread. It felt like the world was ending, even though from a rational place I knew that it definitely wasn’t. From my bed, I could see...

Holidazed and Confused

A guide to MIT’s institutional resources

Jun 2020
It’s December. Holiday music peals through the air, and the hallways are decked in reds, greens, golds and silvers. The anticipation for the end of the year hangs in the air, breathing down the napes of necks and nipping at the ankles of passersby. For many adults, December means the holidays and...

My Journey Home

How I Came to Love Cambridge

Jun 2020
Mechanical Engineering
I am a California girl. I love walks on the beach, wearing shorts in January, cultural acceptance of athleisure wear as commonplace dress, and every restaurant having a vegetarian option. As a result, moving to almost the furthest state possible for at least half a decade came with some concerns....

Doing a PhD is a solo trip

It’s time to buckle up and take off

Jun 2020
Chemical Engineering
As the plane bound for Switzerland took off towards my first solo trip, the feelings of fear in that 3rd-year PhD student gave way to excitement as I realized: I am alone! What was so different about it this time? I had already been living alone and regularly traveling to visit family for nearly a...

Is Grad School Harder than a Headstand?

How practicing my headstand turned into a metaphor for my PhD

MAY 2020
Chemistry
Editor Note: This post was originally written before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. The first semester of graduate school is pretty hard. You’re surrounded by new people from all over the world, you’re taking challenging classes, and in many departments, you’re also required to teach...

Big Changes in the Qualifying Exam Procedure

The many responses to AeroAstro's new quals process, and how it might be linked to implicit gender bias

MAY 2020
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Imagine standing in front of a panel of faculty members, some of the most prominent academics in the world of aerospace engineering, having prepared for a short 60 minutes to complete an oral exam and prove your competence in the field in which you hope to receive your PhD. In many departments at...

Letters to a Not-So-Young-Anymore Grad School Applicant

Reflections during critical moments

MAY 2020
Urban Studies and Planning
Now that I am close to graduating with a masters degree in City Planning, I’m reflecting on how I’ve grown in the past two years. It was a year before that, in the summer of 2017, when I decided to apply to grad school. By that time I had worked for five years at several architecture firms. I felt...

What Business Does a Modeler Have at Sea?

Lessons learned from a research cruise

APR 2020
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
If you’re anything like me, then there is a good chance you have never even heard of a research cruise. That was about my (lack of) knowledge level until I started applying to graduate schools. Next thing I knew, I was a part of the incoming class for the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/...

Networking for Introverts

How to break out of your shell

APR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted to us before the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, but we believe that the advice given here is still highly relevant in the time of quarantine  – when both group and one-on-one meetings are as important as ever. Networking. For some of us...

Fitting into MIT

How imposter syndrome gave me a sense of belonging

APR 2020
Mechanical Engineering
When I got my acceptance email from MIT, I actually cried. My childhood dream was coming true, and my emotions were a whirlwind of excitement and disbelief. In a fit of excitement, I called my mom and somehow managed to string together words to convey the good news to her. At the end of the phone...