With finals season approaching, a sense of dread sets in every time I take notes in lecture—how am I supposed to remember all of this information at once? Often the prospect of beginning the study process is so overwhelming that organizing all the information seems almost impossible.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ve realized that a lot of my psychology research and coursework have provided many useful tips to make studying as effective and efficient as possible. I have compiled a few here to help you get started and hopefully feel more comfortable diving into studying when reading period comes around.
This past week I was invited to speak at the Mary W. George Freshman Research Conference. This conference is an opportunity for students to share their R3–the final open-ended research paper for Freshman Writing Seminar students– with a wider audience. But how do you go about converting a 10 to 15-page paper into just a 10-minute talk? How do you condense the intricacies of a month’s worth of research and analysis into just 10 short minutes?
This was the challenge I faced when I was first offered the opportunity to present my R3. On top of that, since I took my Writing Seminar last spring, I hadn’t even read the paper in over five months. But with guidance from my writing seminar professor and the Writing Center, I learned how to adapt such a detailed, academic argument for a more popular audience. Ultimately, through the process, I realized that this gap in time actually helped rather than hurt my development of an accessible presentation.
A few weeks ago, I participated in an event hosted by Princeton’s Peer Career Advisers called an “Insider’s Look at Internships.” I was there as an ambassador for OURSIP—the Office of Undergraduate Research’s Student Initiated Internships Program. OURSIP makes it possible for Princeton students to pursue unpaid research opportunities over the summer, such as my own, by providing funding to cover anticipated expenses.
The unique thing about OURSIP is that it asks students to take it upon themselves to secure their own internship before asking Princeton for help with funding. As opposed to other Princeton programs, like PICS or IIP, which also assist students in the internship search process as part of the program. As students came up to speak to me about OURSIP at the event, I found that their first question was always, “So what is OURSIP?” and after hearing my description their second, more hesitant question was always, “But how did you find your internship?”
I have never liked open-ended projects. The ones that ask you to “pick one concept and explore it” or “pick something that interests you and expand on it” always overwhelm me. How can I pick just one thing to focus on from a semester-long course that I took for the explicit reason that I was interested in all of the subject matter?
Last spring, I was faced with one of these final projects in my cognitive psychology course. We were asked to pick one of the central concepts in cognitive psychology, identify a question and hypothesis related to it, and design an experiment to test it. The first thing I did was read over my notes from the semester to try to find something I was particularly interested in but…plot twist…I was interested in pretty much everything, so I needed to come up with a different strategy.
I decided to reverse engineer my search for a topic. What is a question I want to answer? What would I be interested in learning about right now? What is relevant to me at this moment? Well, at the time we were coming up on finals season, so naturally studying was all I could think about. How could I most efficiently study for all of my upcoming exams? Luckily, learning and memory are fundamental concepts in cognitive psychology so I was on my way to developing a successful, interesting, and relevant project. A project that not only appropriately connected to the material in the course, but one that I could apply to my day to day life.Continue reading Learning how to Learn: Making Research Relevant
As early as November of my freshman year, I remember hearing conversations around campus about summer plans. These conversations were not about the anticipation of vacation and relaxation, but rather the frantic and stressful search for the perfect summer opportunity to pad their resumes. It was safe to say that I was freaking out.
But this pressure motivated me to learn about my options, which ultimately allowed me to further explore my interests and participate in an incredibly rewarding research opportunity. After many meetings with my amazing academic advisers and career advisers at Career Services, I secured a position as a research assistant at a developmental neuroscience lab at UNC Chapel Hill.
This position consisted of nine consecutive weeks of unpaid, nine to five workdays, and the occasional shift on evenings and weekends. Sound draining? Yes, but I loved every second of it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of work. But what was so enlightening about the experience was the fact that I actually enjoyed doing the work. I found something I was passionate about and I had the opportunity to engage with it every single day.
The first day was a blur—meeting everyone in the lab, getting familiar with the lab space, moving into my office (my own office!!!), and running around campus collecting my various parking permits and ID badges. After taking care of these logistical details, I hit the ground running.