Top Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before MSRE
by Jenn Andersen, McNair graduate assistant
5. I would meet some of my best friends in MSRE.
You’ll spend a lot of time over the summer with your cohort, and you all are facing the same pressure to complete your research projects. Your cohort will be the ones you’ll rely on to keep your spirits up! Many of them will also be continuing the journey of applying to graduate school with you. These friends will give you someone to commiserate with over applications, celebrate your successes with, and they’ll continue to support you through graduate school.
4. I would learn the real meaning of time management.
I was very lucky that my mentor is an ace at time management because until MSRE started I didn’t realize how nonchalant I was about it. Instead of finishing assignments just before the deadline, my faculty mentor taught me how to work backwards from a deadline to set up my schedule for writing, leaving enough time to be able to have her and my graduate student mentor to look over it multiple times. Using this time management technique for preparing my PowerPoint presentation and poster gave me plenty of time to practice my presentation in front of both my lab and my friends and made the whole process a lot less stressful than it could have been. Work with your mentors on scheduling your time during MSRE so you can get the most out of your experiences!
3. My results (or lack thereof) are probably not going to change the world.
I went into my project thinking that I was going to come up with results that would change the way health campaigns work and find some huge failure in the program I was reviewing. I didn’t find these ‘perfect’ results, but I did have some interesting findings. It was enough so I was able to do a second study, finish my senior thesis, and be under consideration for publication this year. When my co-authors and I received a revise/resubmit back from the publisher, I was stunned that they found my project to be interesting, even though it didn’t end up as I envisioned during MSRE. While having results matter, it’s just as important to have a compelling story, valid theory, good methods, and a well thought-out discussion to make your paper work.
2. My GRE scores needed work.
I went into the GRE Pretest thinking I would perform well on the test, as I’d on other tests in the past, and that would not need to worry about my scores. This was not true. After taking the Pretest, everyone in my cohort found our GRE scores could be improved, just in different ways. Fortunately, this is the perfect time to form study groups with your fellow scholars to help you prepare. With such a diversity of talent in your cohort, there is certain to be someone who can help you improve, just as you can help your peers improve. Try to take your test as soon after MSRE as you can, that way you’ll have all of the studying and techniques fresh in your memory on test day!
1. MSRE is one of the most rewarding moments in your young career as a scholar.
I was tired by the time we left for Berkeley. One of the things you don’t think about is how much of the summer will be devoted to your research. It is an eye-opening experience and a pretty good preview of what graduate school will be like. Although, I was even more tired when we got off the plane in Lincoln after the trip, I was so excited about what I’d chosen to do with my life. Experiencing my first conference, presenting my first paper, and handling the questions regarding my research with ease made me feel that I was ready to take on the next step: graduate school. I think this is one of the most important things the scholars who have been through MSRE can tell those that are preparing for their first day of MSRE; it is a hard 8-9 weeks of work, but the skills and confidence you gain in the end are so worth it.