How to Approach a Politics Paper


Corwin Hall, home of Princeton’s Politics Department, is often the final destination of a politics paper.

This week, I’m working on a paper for Human Rights, a politics class that I’m taking.This course only has one major paper assignment, and it’s very broad. Given that this is a tricky, but not entirely uncommon situation, I thought I’d share my approach to writing this paper. It’s often said that “writing is thinking,” so why not write about thinking about writing?

I started thinking about the paper pretty early in the course. To be fair, this wasn’t all me—my preceptor gently encouraged us to have a topic in mind before Spring Break. The best thing about brainstorming topics early is that you have the time and latitude to allow your idea to evolve. And evolve my idea did. Continue reading How to Approach a Politics Paper

Advice on Reaching Out to Faculty

Sitting in the back of a lecture can make your professor seem distant. Reaching out via email, discussed below, can help you get to know them better.

In my last post, I ended with a suggestion: reach out to faculty members. This post is an assortment of advice on how to go about doing that. More precisely, this post is about how to get in touch with faculty for the first time. Yes, dear readers, today we discuss the joy that is the cold email.

There are several situations in which cold emailing can be in your interest. You might want to get to know the faculty member better, or to do research with them. You might also want their advice on research at other institutions, summer programs, or independent work. Whatever your individual case, however, certain general principles apply when reaching out to faculty.

If cold emails are new or intimidating to you, fear not. The advice contained below will (hopefully) make this menacing task feel much more manageable.

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The value of harsh editing: “Killing your children”

When you’re struggling to begin a paper, perhaps the last thing on your mind is the possibility that you might have too much to write about. But sometimes when you’re struggling to start, it’s not because you don’t have enough to write about, but because you have too much. Have you ever found yourself with so many competing ideas bouncing around in your head, each clamoring for expression, to the point that your writing has no focus?

Editing can be painful, but comparisons to prolicide are a bit exaggerated

When I find myself in such a situation, I remember an unfortunately violent piece of editing advice: Kill your children — that is, don’t let your attachment to particular sentences or ideas prevent you from cutting them.

Just do it. Don’t convince yourself that an idea that it must remain in your draft at the expense of the quality of the work as a whole. However painful it may be, there will come a time when you have to sacrifice something for the good of the piece.

This fall, I wrote a piece for my journalism class, later published in the Daily Princetonian, about Princeton’s Career Services office. In the course of researching for the article, I interviewed more than a dozen students, alumni, and career service staff. Musicians and consultants, grad students and executives – everyone had  their own story, their own advice to offer me and other students.

Continue reading The value of harsh editing: “Killing your children”

Senior Reflection: What I Wish I Knew During My Spring JP

Small details are important to consider when planning to use your Spring JP as a springboard for your thesis!
Small details (like knowing which computer clusters have specific software ) are important to consider when planning to use your Spring JP as a springboard for your thesis!

As spring semester approaches, most juniors are trying not to think about what’s coming next: the spring JP. For psychology majors, the spring JP is a project proposal that often becomes a student’s senior thesis. My JP-turned-thesis was on learning science through composing analogies, a topic that intersects my interests in psychology and education. While I was very excited about crafting my spring JP, I also remember feeling very overwhelmed. I knew that a well-done JP would save my senior self TONS of time in the thesis-writing process — but I also knew that planning your thesis during junior year puts a lot of pressure on you! Though I successfully used my spring JP as the foundation for my thesis, there are many things I wish I had thought about when I first designed the project. Here are some tips to be mindful of if you plan to base your thesis on your spring JP (and save yourself a lot of time during senior year!)

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Five Tips to Tackle Winter Break  

My wonderful mom keeps sending me pictures like this - this one captioned, "incredible morning sunrise!" I'm pretty excited to be home.
My wonderful mom keeps sending me pictures like this – this one captioned, “incredible morning sunrise!” I’m pretty excited to go home.

In a few days, I’ll be home in sunny Kona, Hawaii. I haven’t been back since June, and by now I’m hankering to feel the warm Pacific on my skin. I’m going to eat homemade chocolate truffles, free-dive with my dad, catch up with old friends…and also write an entire junior paper, and review a semester’s worth of organic chemistry. Gulp.

Last Friday, hoping to figure out how to juggle it all, I attended a workshop at the McGraw Center: Balancing Work and Play During Winter Break. Here are five essential take-aways:

Continue reading Five Tips to Tackle Winter Break