Princeton from a Student’s Perspective: The Most Legendary Courses at Princeton University

Set of four images depicting Princeton students. Top left: two Princeton students decked out in Princeton gear, standing back to back and smiling at the camera. Top right: Four Princeton students wearing pink jackets and dotted scarves smile at camera. Bottom Left: Two students sit on the green, one holding flowers the other holding a small bunny figurine. Bottom right: Three Princeton students smile at camera in front of a Princeton flag

Thank you to the best friends in the world for sending in their favorite courses!

“Does anyone know a good English class?” “I need to fulfill my history requirement.” “I am looking for a chill, creative P/D/F course.” Everyone is searching for the best schedule possible and I know that many of you are open for suggestions. In my last post, I wrote about my favorite courses at Princeton as a SPIA major interested in law and service (see post here). But, I understand that every Princeton student is unique, so I have spoken with classmates and friends within other majors to better understand the full Princeton experience. Thus, without further ado, here are the most unforgettable courses that they have taken at Princeton.

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Graduate Studies and Careers in Public Service: an Interview with Professor Iqbal Zaidi – Part 2

In the second part of the interview with Professor Zaidi, the discussion gradually veers away from his career, and we go into his advice for students, the courses he loves teaching, and what he learned about making plans and still being flexible.

For those who missed the first part of the interview, please read it here.

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Graduate Studies and Careers in Public Service: an Interview with Professor Iqbal Zaidi – Part 1

In one of my previous posts about taking advanced courses in Princeton, I mentioned that I ended up taking two courses with Professor Iqbal Zaidi – ECO 353 (International Monetary Economics) and this fall, ECO 322 (Econometric Tools for Research in Macroeconomics) – both of which turned out to be some of my favorite experiences at Princeton. I recently interviewed him to know more about his career and how he came to specialize in international macroeconomics. After completing his Ph.D. from Princeton, Professor Zaidi worked for three decades at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), working in several positions and going on to serve on its Executive Board and manage IMF offices in Africa and Asia. He is now back at his alma mater, teaching specialized courses in macroeconomics. He also serves as an A.B. Academic Adviser.

I am dividing the interview into two parts. In the first part of my interview with Professor Zaidi, I concentrate on his career – specifically, what made him join the IMF after completing his Ph.D. at Princeton. The second part continues with his experience at the IMF and we then segue into his life in academia and what he loves about teaching and advising in Princeton.

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A Guide to Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Whether you are thinking about applying to summer programs or graduate school, you most likely will need to ask for letters of recommendation for the application. Last year, I applied to various summer programs, but I didn’t start thinking about letters of recommendation until January, although most of my deadlines were in mid-February. Having only a month to ask for letters of recommendation was barely enough time, so this year, I am beginning to think about asking for letters of recommendation much earlier. Recommenders usually appreciate not being rushed, so don’t wait too long if you are also thinking about asking for letters of recommendation – one month is the minimum time. Here are some additional tips that are good to keep in mind when thinking about asking for letters of recommendation.

The Princeton IIP application portal asks for the email of a faculty member to send a request for a letter of recommendation
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Interdisciplinarity and the Political Imperative of Research: An Interview with Daniela Gandorfer, Part II

Daniela Gandorfer

Specializing in legal thought and critical theory, Daniela Gandorfer is a graduate of the doctoral program in Princeton’s Department of Comparative Literature, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz, and co-director and head of research at the Logische Phantasie Lab (LoPh). LoPh, a research collective recently founded by Princeton alumni and current students, describes itself as a “comprehensive research agency that actively challenges injustices resulting from political, legal, economic, social, physical, and environmental entanglements by means of specific investigations.” I want to thank former PCUR correspondent Rafi Lehman, now the Development Coordinator at LoPh, for putting me in touch with the research collective’s team.

Over email and Zoom, I was able to talk to Daniela about the critical methods employed by LoPh, its relationship with the established academy, and the benefits and limits of an interdisciplinary research approach.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Below is part two of a two-part interview. You can read Part I here.

Daniela Gandorfer, co-director and head of research at LoPh.
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Interdisciplinarity and the Political Imperative of Research: An Interview with Daniela Gandorfer, Part I

Specializing in legal thought and critical theory, Daniela Gandorfer is a graduate of the doctoral program in Princeton’s Department of Comparative Literature, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz, and co-director and head of research at the Logische Phantasie Lab (LoPh). LoPh, a research collective recently founded by Princeton alumni and current students, describes itself as a “comprehensive research agency that actively challenges injustices resulting from political, legal, economic, social, physical, and environmental entanglements by means of specific investigations.” I want to thank former PCUR correspondent Rafi Lehman, now the Development Coordinator at LoPh, for putting me in touch with the research collective’s team.

Over email and Zoom, I was able to talk to Daniela about the critical methods employed by LoPh, its relationship with the established academy, and the benefits and limits of an interdisciplinary research approach.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Below is part one of a two-part interview.

Daniela Gandorfer, co-director and head of research at LoPh.
Continue reading Interdisciplinarity and the Political Imperative of Research: An Interview with Daniela Gandorfer, Part I

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.

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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!

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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.

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Crash Course: Letters of Recommendation

No matter what kind of application process you’re working through, you’ll likely need some letters of recommendation. There are a lot of common misconceptions about how to go about securing these letters that I will explain here; I hope this post will help clear some of them up!

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