Get what you want out of Carnegie Mellon
Deciding on what you want to get out of your time here is important since you’ll be spending a large amount of time (4-6 years) as a graduate student. Being consciously aware of them will allow you to pick up things important to your goal more easily as you progress through your PhD.
Stuff to do with school
- Obtain Certification
- Develop your interest in a certain field and obtain the relevant skills required to do research in it
- Learn soft skills (skills not directly related but relevant to research such as learning to write grants, networking, etc)
- Learn to read and evaluate research papers
- Learn how to write good research papers
- Balance finances (if it’s your first time living alone with a salary)
Reviewing Old Notes and Lab Techniques/Skills
This isn’t necessary though you may wish to bring your old enzyme kinetic notes if you decide to take the core course in Biochemistry and Cell Biology (Required for all PhD students).
What You Should Get Out of Reading Papers
- A good idea of current research on a certain field.
- How to write a good paper (Including what are the necessary experiments to produce a good paper, this point; learning how to do research is essentially the reason for your PhD).
- How to identify weaknesses in paper.
- How to read papers quickly and extract as much damage as possible.
Study Groups are good for sharing knowledge and encouraging each other to push yourselves harder.
This covers lab safety and handling of hazardous materials. You will go through this during the Biology Graduate Student Orientation.
Juggling Assignments and Exams
As long as you are aware of which assignments and exams are due for various classes, you can start working on certain assignments earlier so that you’ll be able to squeeze out that extra time to study more for an exam or minimize days where you sleep just to turn in an assignment on time.
Juggling Classes and Lab
Most lab supervisors will expect you to be hard-working, working approximately 30-70 hours in the lab but this varies from supervisor to supervisor. You may sometimes work on weekends but that depends on your experiments and your own willingness.