Being academically successful is, arguably, something we can hone to near-perfection during our tenure in school. After all, most of us are practicing it for almost two decades of our lives. We humans are also very good at figuring things out and bettering ourselves when influenced by the right incentives; if you scour the science of learning online, you’ll find out how quickly we respond and adapt to stinging punishments or enticing rewards (yes, even us humans, especially if we are enticed with money). In school, these incentives take the form of teachers whose wrath we don’t want to feel, letters and numbers in red pen we do or don’t want to see at the top of our returned papers, and leaderboards full of our and our peers’ scores. We eventually functionalize and operationalize our methods down to an exact science to deftly dispose of syllabus assignments and exams. We “get” how to do school. Some of us may do this better than others (of whom the generous become college academic tutors), but nonetheless most of us inevitably improve. Then, we are finally released into the real world to unleash all our skills and ability.
Your author is not only a chemistry tutor, but is more than three years in towards a doctoral degree in organic chemistry. For advanced chemistry students, a frequent question is “Do I need to go to grad school?”
The short answer is, yes, for chemistry majors grad school is essentially a requirement. But that being said, it is a lot of school, and there are definitely jobs to be had without a Ph. D, so there’s nothing wrong with carving out your own path. So here are some things to consider during your undergrad career to help you with the decision.