STEM

12
Feb

Your Guide for Considering a Gap Year

—from the Lab Manager's bench and the PI's desk

Exploring the Process

Figuring out if you should take a year off between finishing your undergrad experience and enrolling in a graduate, medical, or professional program isn't always an easy path. So, if you're feeling stressed out about the uncertainly of it all, know that it's part of the process. Deciding what to do, wondering if taking a break will be worth it, if you should even consider it, (or feeling frustrated because a gap year wasn't part of your 10 -year plan) is stressful.

This guest post was written by Dr. Brandi Ormerod, Associate Professor at the University of Florida, Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Ormerod's research program focuses on understanding how to use transplantable or endogenous neural stem cells to repair neural circuits in the diseased or injured brain, and how changes in levels of hippocampal neurogenesis across lifespan impact cognition. She originally posted a version of this article on Quora and gave us permission to share this version here.

New Researchers Beware: Learning Curve Ahead

For almost everyone, research turns out to be more complicated, and take more effort to gain skills and accomplish the objectives of a project than anticipated. So, if you struggle to learn a technique, or you don’t immediately understand a concept your research mentor explains, remind yourself that such challenges are to be expected.

Tip #10 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect to Resent the Return of the Fall Term

Wrapping up a full-time summer research experience is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. But sometime during the first few weeks of the fall semester, a harsh reality will become evident: You don’t have as much time for research. Not near enough time. What would have taken you part of a morning to do in the summer, will now take a week or more to complete. Those long blocks of summer research time will have evaporated along with your increased productivity.

Tip #9 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect to Feel Like a Scientist

Arguably, this is the best part of an epic summer research experience.

After a summer of long hours dedicated to making a contribution to science and overcoming challenges in the lab, you’ll finally feel like a real scientist.

Tip #8 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Personal Growth

When you spend the better part of a summer engaged in full-time research you’re bound to experience substantial personal growth. Perhaps you’ll refine your critical thinking or organizational skills. Maybe you’ll develop a sense of self-reliance or self-discipline that you didn’t know was missing.

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