Planning For Advanced Elective Courses at Princeton

One of the most exciting parts of the academic experience at Princeton is undoubtedly getting to take advanced (3-400 level) elective classes in your concentration. While all classes at Princeton are valuable, elective classes can provide a unique opportunity to have a more personalized learning experience – the classes are often much smaller, with some classes having as few as 5 students – while getting to learn about somewhat more niche disciplines that professors are both specialized in and are more passionate about. However, sometimes the embarrassment of riches can be a problem. The sheer number of truly incredible and interesting advanced courses that are offered at Princeton can make it difficult to choose which courses to take, especially when your course slots are taken up by concentration and certificate requirements as well as either the AB or BSE general requirements. I went through such an exercise myself, and in this post, I hope to offer some insight on how to choose courses based on my experiences at Princeton.

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Dear First Time Coders, You Can Do It

As a SPIA major, I was worried about coding for the first time. But, after taking POL345, I realized that I actually love statistics and computer science.

      “I can’t code,” I told my friends when I realized that I had to take a statistics course for my major that required coding. “I don’t understand it,” I told them. I had never coded before and the thought of creating algorithms on a computer sent shivers down my SPIA spine. I loved math in high school, and coding always seemed interesting to me, but rumors about Princeton math courses, as well as computer science courses, had me sprinting away from Fine Hall. But then, I realized I had to take a statistics course for SPIA. I had to face my fear of R, or the programming language that most SPIA statistics courses use for statistical computation. I didn’t think that I could do it, but I did. And, I ended up loving it. I faced my fears, learned how to code, and you can too.

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NCBI: An Invaluable Tool for Life Sciences Classes and Research!

Have you ever come across something in class that you wish you could get a better Have you ever been wondering more about how proteins are made in the body? Or have you ever been looking for a specific type of lab experiment protocol for your independent work? If yes, then look no further than the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website! It contains dozens of resources, some of which I have found to be very handy in my own research and school experiences. The site is tailored for students in the life-sciences field, but there is a lot of breadth in the resources available—you’ll be able to find useful tools regardless of whether you’re a MOL or CHM major, or if you’re interests lie in researching chemically synthesis mental health, or neurodegenerative diseases.

The NCBI Logo, as it appears on the website

A very useful tool on the NCBI website is Bookshelf. There is a search bar at the top of the website where you can input some topic, book title, or field name, and the program will return a variety of different reference materials relating to the query, including full scientific textbooks, book chapters, studies. On the side, there are often figures and graphs that may relate to your search. 

Some sample search results within Bookshelf if I look up “synaptic plasticity”
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Back to the Classroom: How to Readjust to In-Person Exams

With midterms being in full swing this week, you’ve most likely started reviewing concepts and studying for these exams. However, another crucial part of the preparation process is to readjust to the in-person exam experience. After a year and a half of taking exams virtually, it is important to recognize that exams in the classroom will look and feel very different, so don’t let that take you by surprise. Whether you are studying for midterms or want to start thinking about final exams, here are a few key tips when it comes to taking exams at Princeton in person:

McDonnell A01, a large lecture hall where one of my midterms is taking place this semester
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It’s Midterm Season: 6 Tips for Success on Midterms

East Pyne looks absolutely beautiful as students approach midterm season.

Midterms start this week. I know; I also had to read that twice because I could not believe it. Time is flying on campus and it has been amazing, but with everything going on it can be difficult to stay motivated and study for midterms. Nonetheless, I believe in myself and all of you reading this post! We will make it through midterms and we will succeed. Here are the tips and tricks that I am going to use to perform my best, and I hope that you can use them too:

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Making Use of Office Hours

With classes in full swing, I thought I would share my thoughts on what is a woefully underused resource at Princeton: office hours. Going to office hours has been an extremely valuable tool for me in completing problem sets, studying for tests and exams, and connecting with professors. So read ahead for some advice and observations I’ve made!

Consult your department’s website or syllabus for professors’ office hour availabilities—faculty try hard to make themselves available because office hours can be a very valuable resource!
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From Zoom to McCosh Hall: 5 Tips for a Successful In-Person Semester

From Bent Spoon trips to the most delicious Whitman Pot Pies, it feels amazing to say that we are finally back at the best place of all!

Packed lecture halls. Firestone meetups. Murray-Dodge cookie runs. After a long, hard year, it has been absolutely legendary to be back on campus, hug my friends, and say hello to the gates of Nassau once more. However, the transition from Zoom to the room could be daunting, especially for first years and sophomores who have never been on campus before. Robertson Hall is definitely more intimidating than a breakout room with your camera off. But, in-person classes are amazing here, and I would love to offer some tips for success on making the transition. So, without further ado, here is my advice on in-person life at Princeton:

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