Graduate School Application Process (Part III): Interviewing and Decisions

April 15th is the universal deadline for committing to graduate programs across the country. So, just a few short weeks ago, my graduate school application process came to end when I decided to commit to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Psychology Ph.D. program. This decision was not an easy one by any means; there are so many factors to consider when choosing which program is the best fit. For me, the decision came down to thinking back to my experiences during all of my visiting/interview weekends.

The sunset in Madison, Wisconsin during interview weekend

During the interviews themselves, my mind was, understandably, primarily occupied with ensuring that I was putting my best foot forward and engaging intellectually with potential faculty advisers, as well as current graduate students, since I was hyper-aware that everyone in the program was evaluating me. However, the best advice I had gotten before going on my visits was that these weekends are as much about the program evaluating you as a candidate, as they are about you learning more about the program and determining if it is a good fit for you. So, I want to pass on that advice and highlight a few things that I found helpful to pay attention to during interview weekends that ultimately played into my final decision-making process.

Continue reading Graduate School Application Process (Part III): Interviewing and Decisions

Graduate School Application Process (Part II): Where to Apply

In these crazy times navigating COVID-19 it can be challenging to plan for such an uncertain future. However, in these past few weeks, I have found it comforting to continue to look towards the possibilities of what life may hold in the coming months after this unorthodox semester blends into summer and the academic year begins again. For many of you, you will be returning to Princeton to continue your undergraduate careers. The class of 2020 will be entering the next chapter of their lives, and for me, that means beginning a Ph.D. program in Psychology.

The author with her adviser who she has worked with on her junior and senior independent work. Research advisers are incredibly helpful in the grad school application process.

With so much unknown, I hope to provide some insight into the graduate school application process for those of you that may be considering pursuing an advanced degree. In this post, I’ll talk about the process of selecting which programs to apply to. If you are unsure whether graduate school is the right path for you, check out my last post in this series. If you are ready to dive into the process and begin exploring all of the exciting possibilities and programs out there, read on!

Continue reading Graduate School Application Process (Part II): Where to Apply

Graduate School Application Process (Part I): Deciding to Apply

This semester, as I return to writing for PCUR, I will be publishing a series of posts describing my experience with the graduate school application process, applying to a variety of developmental psychology PhD programs. Throughout the process, I was fortunate enough to have guidance from my independent work adviser and other senior members of my research lab on campus. However, even with this support, I often found that the process was incredibly opaque. I spent hours searching for answers to seemingly simple questions, often never coming to a definitive conclusion. I hope to use this series of posts to shed some light on the many facets of the process. Although I can only speak to my personal experience, I hope to provide valuable information that can be helpful to students from a variety of disciplines.

The author posing with a picture book she wrote for her thesis study. She spent the summer before her senior year working in her lab full-time to collect data.

Before getting into the nitty gritty of the application process itself, the first step is deciding whether or not you want to go to graduate school in the first place. Graduate school, especially PhD programs, are long, so before you commit to spending up to 6 years in a program, it is important to make sure grad school is the right path for you.

Continue reading Graduate School Application Process (Part I): Deciding to Apply

Welcome Back!

The 2019-2020 academic year is up and running! Classes are in session, recruiting season is upon us, and our first paper deadlines are approaching. PCUR is back too as a resource to help guide you through this year. Our correspondents from across grade levels and academic disciplines will reflect on their own experiences,  share tips that they have learned along the way, and raise awareness of the countless research-related opportunities and resources Princeton has to offer. Be sure to take a look at our first post of the year where Rafi offers advice on how to reduce independent work stress.

Our 2019-2020 correspondents!

Along with our returning correspondents Rafi, Shanon, Andrea, Saira, and Alec, we have three new sophomore correspondents Ella, Kamron, and Soo. Check out their bios below!

Continue reading Welcome Back!

PCUR in the News!

Melissa Parnagian, Class of ’17, former PCUR

Melissa Parnagian, Class of ’17, who served as the Chief Correspondent and a Social Sciences Correspondent for PCUR, was recently featured in a piece published by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Melissa was a Woodrow Wilson School concentrator and is now attending the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to receive her Master of Public Policy. In the piece, Melissa highlights the role PCUR played in her development as a writer and a researcher. Read the full article here.

If you’re interested in learning more about what PCUR alumni are doing now, be sure to check out our upcoming spring seasonal series, Post-Princeton Life: The Experiences of PCUR Alumni, and read all about the many different paths Princeton alumni have taken.

Ellie Breitfeld, Cheif Correspondent

5 Reasons to Join PCUR

Apply to join PCUR for the 2019-2020 academic year!

As we return from Spring Break, we’re all getting ready to finish up the semester and launch into whatever we might have planned for the summer. However, now is also a time to reflect on the past year, and begin thinking about what we might want to change, or what we want to continue in the upcoming academic year. One exciting opportunity to consider is to join PCUR! We are now accepting applications for new correspondents for the 2019-2020 academic year.

What is so great about being a part of PCUR? Continue reading to find out what the current correspondents have to say about why they joined PCUR, what they have enjoyed about the experience so far, and why they would encourage others like you to apply.

Continue reading 5 Reasons to Join PCUR

New Year, New PCURs

It’s that time of year again. The hustle and bustle of the beginning of the year begins to die down–new dorms have been moved in to, another fall lawn parties has come and gone, textbooks have been purchased–and now its time to jump right into the nitty gritty. As we finish up our second week of classes, the assignments start flooding in and it’s time to get back to work. PCUR is here to help! Join me, our four returning correspondents: Rafi, Shanon, Alec, and Elise, and four new fresh faces: Andrea, Saira, Nanako, and Raya. Coming from a wide variety of disciplines, this year’s team is ready to guide you through the coming academic year.

The 2018-2019 PCUR Team (minus Shanon), photo courtesy of Marah Sakkal

If you have specific questions that you would like to see answered, use the Contact Us form and let us know what kinds of post you want to see! Also new this year, some of our posts will be featured on the Princeton University Instagram story! We’re looking forward to a great year, so continue reading below to see what our new correspondents are bringing to the table.

Continue reading New Year, New PCURs

Apply to Write for PCUR! Everyone is a Researcher

Apply to be a part of PCUR’s amazing team of correspondents!

As we return from Spring Break, we enter the homestretch of the year, but also one of the busiest times. It’s a time to finish up all of the endeavors we’ve taken on throughout the year—whether it be your R3 from writing sem, your JP, or your senior thesis—and it also a time to begin looking ahead to possibilities for next year. Well, here’s an opportunity you will want to consider! PCUR is looking to hire new correspondents for the 2018-2019 academic year with research interests ranging from social sciences, to engineering, to humanities, and natural sciences.

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t really do research…” This was my initial thought as well when I first learned about this opportunity in the Spring semester of my freshman year. In fact, I reflected on this concerned that I didn’t have any research experience in the sample post I submitted with my PCUR application. I’d like to share a few excerpts from that post here, and hopefully you’ll come to the same conclusions that I did—every undergraduate at Princeton is a researcher and PCUR is a great way to become more involved in Princeton’s vibrant research culture and encourage others to do the same. Continue reading Apply to Write for PCUR! Everyone is a Researcher

Independent Work Workshops at the Writing Center


Get a jumpstart on independent work with the Writing Center!

Want an organized JP or Senior thesis? Doing a quantitative research project? Want funding to support your great ideas? Sign up for the workshops below!

— This week —

Back by popular demand!
Defining your Research Question: Quantitative Projects in STEM and the Social Sciences
Thursday, March 1, 4:30pm -5:30pm
Guyot 100
Are you writing a quantitative JP or struggling with the introduction or discussion of your thesis?  This workshop will help you frame your project’s direction and next steps by:
• defining and refining a specific, actionable research question
• learning how to leverage secondary sources in relation to your data
• identifying the role and impact of your project in your field


Sign up here!

Continue reading Independent Work Workshops at the Writing Center

Looking Back on Undergraduate Research: A Conversation with Jacob Schatz ’15

In a continuation of last year’s seasonal series, this winter, each PCUR will interview a Princeton alumnus from their home department about his/her experience writing a senior thesis. In Looking Back on Undergraduate Research: Alumni Perspectives, the alumni reveal how conducting independent research at Princeton influenced them academically, professionally and personally. Here, Ellie shares her interview.


Jacob Schatz ’15 began his first semester of graduate school in NYU’s department of applied psychology this past fall.

Jacob Schatz graduated from Princeton in 2015 with a degree in Psychology. After graduation, he worked as a lab coordinator at the Temple University Infant and Child Lab until this past fall, when he began graduate school in New York University’s Applied Psychology program. I had the privilege of talking with Jacob about the independent work in psychology that he conducted at Princeton. He provided the following insights on how his interests in psychology and education inspired his senior thesis research on how children learn from storybooks and his professional trajectory beyond Princeton: Continue reading Looking Back on Undergraduate Research: A Conversation with Jacob Schatz ’15