iFly and I Rest: Making the Most of Winter Break

Photo of hand holding a takeout container with mini donuts covered in chocolate and powdered sugar. A blue food truck is in the background.
The outdoor food festival takes place on Prospect at the end of Wintersession. From donuts to skiing to iFly, you should definitely check it all out!

Winter break is long and much-needed. It is a time to relax, rejuvenate, and reflect on the semester. In this post, I will give advice on how to make the most of the next few months, but I recognize that you know yourself best and should choose to spend your break in whatever way makes you happiest. Without further ado, here are my takeaways from the last 3 winter breaks:

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Learning to Stay Productive During Reading Period

While reading Ryan’s recent post about dean’s date traditions and reading period excitement, I started thinking back to all of the things I wish I did differently during my first reading period. Today, I want to approach the same topic of reading period, but from a slightly less exciting (although necessary) angle: how to actually buckle down and stay productive when studying for finals. Unlike fall finals last year, reading period this December will be fully on campus, and for most of us, won’t require navigating studying from home. Here’s some of my advice for how to take full advantage of reading period for a strong end to the semester.

screenshot of a google calendar schedule
An example of what an “optimized” schedule might look like – you can take this to whatever degree works best for you.
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No Experience Necessary: An Interview with Delaan Nedd ’25

Delaan Nedd '25 and the Bocarsly Lab

Delaan Nedd ’25 (second from the left in the top row) and the Bocarsly Lab. Photo from Bocarsly Lab News.

As we enter December, it seems like summer is far, far away, but it’s a good time to start thinking about summer plans if you haven’t already. If you’re interested in research, there are numerous summer research programs whose applications are currently open (the Office of Undergraduate Research has a great list here).

For students with no experience with research, just getting started can be daunting. I wanted to hear from students whose first hands-on exposure to research was through Princeton’s research programs, so I interviewed Delaan Nedd ‘25. Delaan spent this past summer in the Princeton Department of Chemistry’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Chemistry (SURF-C) program. SURF-C is a nine-week program for first and second-year undergraduate students to work on cutting-edge chemistry research alongside Princeton faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and other undergrads. What’s exciting is that the research Delaan contributed to during SURF-C was recently published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Dalton Transactions journal—check out the full paper here!

In this interview, we discuss his experience with on-campus summer research both in and out of the lab, as well as how the summer further informed his academic and career interests.

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Research During the Academic Year: Tips for Time Management & Pursuing your Passions

A schedule board with a plethora of sticky notes containing writings on various obligations.
Whether you’re in a lab or working remotely, fitting in research during the academic year requires above all a willingness to prioritize yourself and good time management. Photo Credit: Jo Szczepanska.

Whether you’re trying to free up your summer to enjoy one of Princeton’s other fully-funded programs, or maybe pave the way for more advanced summer or independent research opportunities, it’s understandable why you might want to get a head start on research during the academic year. But, with jam-packed class schedules, multiple labs, essays to write, and hopefully squeezing in some time for yourself, it can feel impossible to do research on top of life at Princeton. So, how do students do it? Can you really spend 8-10 hours per week on research and still find work-life balance? In short, it depends. The number of classes you’re taking, extracurriculars, and your own unique circumstances all factor into whether research during the academic year is sustainable for your class schedule. For some, research can be a valuable addition to their academic schedules. But, like anything at Princeton, it requires careful planning, time management, and clarifying your own values. Here are three tips for striking balance with research during the academic year.

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Finishing Strong: Dean’s Date Traditions and Reading Period Excitement

Photo taken by Whitman College Council; depicts two young individuals smiling at the camera holding the showbill for Harry Potter
Keep an eye on your inbox for once-in-a-lifetime events that you can enjoy during Reading Period, like Whitman College Broadway trips!

Can you believe it is almost time for finals? Our fall semester is coming to a close and it feels surreal. It is true that finals season, reading period, and Dean’s Date can be stressful. Furthermore, if you are a first year, it may not be obvious how the whole system works. In sum, our last day of class is December 8th. Then, reading period, a week without classes used to study for finals and prepare for Dean’s Date, begins on the 9th and ends on the 16th. The 16th is the infamous ~Dean’s Date~ or a fancy term we use to describe the day in which many of our written assignments and final projects are due. Finally, we go out like legends and finish our finals from the 17th to the 23rd. You can check the date of your finals on the University Registrar and reach out to your Academic Dean about rescheduling them if you have multiple finals on one day. The next few weeks may seem like a gloomy time on campus, but I want to use this post to share some moments of excitement and sneaky Princeton traditions that you can look forward to.

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Choosing Classes that Align with Your Research Interests

With spring course selection coming up very soon, it can be intimidating to try and pick your classes from the massive selection advertised on the Course Offerings website. Maybe you have a few ideas about the type of classes you’d like to take, but creating a balanced schedule while also making sure you’re on track to fulfill your requirements can be a big undertaking. I also want to encourage you to keep one more element in mind when it comes to picking classes: potential research opportunities. The final paper you write in your favorite class next semester is not only your next great writing sample, but could be the beginning of your next big research project. Better yet, forming a relationship with your favorite professors is a great way to open doors to research opportunities. But if you’re looking to try something slightly out of your comfort zone, where should you start when looking at new courses? Here are a few of my tips.

a screenshot of the search tools on the course offerings website
When browsing for courses, be sure to look at the Advanced Search options!
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Need Resources For Your Next Paper? Visit the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library!

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library

In this post, I share my experience of requesting resources from Princeton’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library for a research paper in ART102/ARC102: An Introduction to the History of Architecture. I took the Spring 2022 iteration of the course, taught by Professor Basile Baudez and Professor Samuel Holzman. The course provided an overview of architectural history from ancient Egypt to the modern-day through key monuments and architectural movements.

One of my favorite parts of ART102 was our semester-long research project. Students have the opportunity to delve deeper into the history of any building in the Princeton community. My peers covered a wide range of buildings, including Firestone Library, the Graduate College, and the University Chapel. Inspired by my involvement with the Princeton University Art Museum as a student tour guide, I chose to research Bainbridge House (now repurposed as Art@Bainbridge, one of the Museum’s gallery spaces on Nassau Street).

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Publications, Conferences, and Professional Development: Motivations for Your R3

Research Correspondent, Amaya Dressler ’25, presenting her Writing Seminar R3 research at the Mary George Research Conference.
Research Correspondent, Amaya Dressler ’25, presenting her Writing Seminar R3 research at the Mary George Research Conference.

Writing sem. For many, it’s one of the most challenging courses they’ll ever take at Princeton. It forces you to think in new and challenging ways, often questioning some of the ‘basic rules’ we’d previously been taught about writing. With late nights spent drafting and redrafting, 8:30 am classes, and daunting essay prompts, it’s easy to understand how writing sem (short for writing seminar) gets its reputation. No student makes it out of writing sem with three perfect papers. Yet, in the midst of challenge, it’s easy to lose sight of the many professional opportunities that writing sem can offer. Whether you’re looking to get published, nail your next job interview, or just make a little extra cash, here are four ways that any student can make the most of their writing sem experience.

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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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Tips for Talking About Your Research

Sharing the discoveries you’ve made is not just extremely rewarding, but a necessary part of the research process because it ensures your findings can be put to use. Writing about your research is a tough obstacle to tackle in and of itself, but what I want to focus on today is the arguably more intimidating half of sharing your research: speaking about it. Both formats require demonstrating your command of the subject while also being engaging. Unlike writing about your research, where you generally have a well-defined goal from the get-go, you will find yourself speaking about your research in an enormous range of contexts. Here are three of my tips for talking about your research, whether summarizing your findings for your grandma or giving a formal presentation to a group of experts.

A woman giving a presentation
A presentation given in Princeton’s beautiful J-Street Library.
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