Academic Advice

We found 49 articles

How to be productive while wasting time
One thing that I didn’t really realize until I got into the middle of college is that concentrating is actually a really difficult and daunting task. Sure, when you’re in high school, you have much more frequent deadlines, and you may not necessarily have the luxury of NOT concentrating (even if you are a procrastinator). But coming into college, ...
Don’t lose the forest for the trees: an effective approach to nailing the first semester of law school
Law school is a real adjustment for many reasons, but one big one is that students are typically only evaluated based on one exam at the end of the semester. On any given day, it can be easy to stress about the reading you just didn’t fully understand or the cold call that just didn’t go your way. But remember that in the grand scheme, those ...
Reflections of a 1L
When I started law school in fall of 2022, I was excited to head back to the classroom after a stint in banking and a COVID-19 shortened college experience. Law school, especially the first year (dubbed 1L), has an infamous reputation based on movies ranging from The Paper Chase and Legally Blonde. Emerging from the fray, I can say that law school ...
To biologists – why we should love math
The mention of mathematics often evokes mixed emotions among biologists. While some embrace it as a powerful tool, most merely view it as a black box for their collaborators to navigate for them or as intimidating and unrelated to their study. However, as a Biology PhD student, I firmly believe that math is not scary and an essential and ...
Three lessons I learned as a first-generation, low-income student at Harvard
My four years at Harvard were some of the most confidence-ravaging yet vibrant years of my life so far. I took a lot of physics classes, but the greatest lessons I've learned all happened outside the classroom. Here are some of the key takeaways I had at Harvard as a first-generation, low-income student.
Productive study tips
I always like to start off my study sessions with a bit of music. Especially if I know I need to focus up later, starting off in a light, comfortable mood helps to take the pressure off a bit.
How to figure out the kind of mentor you need
Everyone has their favorite season! Some people adore summer because of the good weather, time off from school, and fun vacations with friends and family. While autumn is my favorite season, I believe the summer is a great time for a person to check in on their needs, goals, and progress. Especially at the halfway point of the year, it’s a good ...
Demystifying the path to mastering science learning
Looking back after almost thirty years of using science to build new technologies and companies, I realize that learning science in college could have been much more efficient and enjoyable for me. I spent almost all my time focused on details of how to do the coursework (to balance an equation, to get the right answer, to figure out what was ...
Six law school outlining dos and don’ts
For the not-yet-initiated, a law school outline is a supercharged version of class notes for a law school course. One critical difference between an outline and your class notes, however, is that an outline should be the distillation of the entire semester’s coursework. Instead of full case briefs, think quick summaries of the issues and holdings.
How to balance good grades and a social life as an undergrad
When I was a senior in undergrad, the number one question I got asked by first year and prospective students was: how do I get good grades while also enjoying my time at school? Is it even possible?
My freshman year checklist
Ah, the first year of college. It’s a time many of us look back on with nostalgia, a time to which we crave to return. But in the moment? It’s terrifying!
Five things to do the summer before law school
The months leading up to your first day of law school can be both exciting and extremely nerve-wracking. If you do not have a plan to stay grounded, you will end up in a wormhole of Reddit threads that ultimately lead you more confused than when you started. Here are five things you should consider doing the summer before law school that will ...
Attempting to become a theoretical physicist: initial steps
If you've clicked on this blog, you must be captivated by the beauty of relativity, quantum mechanics, dark matter, or black holes. Now, you're eager to delve deeper into these subjects. Maybe this moment just happened recently or a few years ago. Regardless, you want to get paid to study nature and attempt to describe it using mathematics. As I ...
How to think like a mathematician
Behind every mathematician is a beautiful mind: one that has been forged through years of critical thinking. Their minds are molded by countless failed attempts at solving problems and refined by the exposure to remarkable ideas explored along a lifetime of learning. How can we train our minds to see the world more like mathematicians do? The map ...
The value of seeing: why everyone should make art
“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.” (John Berger, Ways of Seeing)
How to ask a professor if you can conduct research in their lab
You might learn during your classes that your professor's research is quite fascinating. So, naturally, you want to be a part of it! Here are some tips toe help you clinch that research opportunity.
Making mistakes in math class
Learning math often feels like it’s all about right or wrong, like success or failure are the only two possible options and that all of your math expertise is visible as soon as you take a test. What I experienced as a student studying math and now as a math teacher is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of my greatest learning ...
How to get the most out of your questions
Even at the doctorate level, many students struggle with phrasing questions in a clear way that will result in thorough and informative responses from others. This can leave the student feeling discouraged and unsatisfied with their effort to speak up, leading to a decreased willingness to ask questions in the future. Here are three key aspects to ...
Four tips for surviving year one of law school
You may be going into your first year of law school with a range of emotions. Whether you’re excited to finally make a lifelong dream come true, apprehensive to figure out exams and your career path, or something in between—take a moment to congratulate yourself for making it here. As someone who was the first in his family to attend law school, I ...
Things I wish I knew before grad school
Graduate school is an incredibly rewarding, full experience. Here are a few things I wish I had known before starting the journey:
Tips for picking your college course schedule
Picking your course schedule in college might seem daunting. Chances are, your college offers hundreds of classes each term, and you have all sorts of major requirements and general education requirements to satisfy. Picking a course schedule involves answering questions like: Which classes will help you learn the most? Which classes fit best in ...
I’m failing chemistry—does that mean I shouldn’t be a doctor?
Ask almost any premedical student about chemistry, and you’ll get the same set of reactions. If they haven’t finished the chemistry prerequisites, it's a gulp and a look of fear. For those who have completed chemistry and are still premed, it's a sigh of relief: the hardest part is over! And for those who are currently struggling in chemistry ...
Breaking into research: a guide for undergraduates and high schoolers
Research is the crucible of scientific innovation. But to many young undergraduate students and high schoolers, participating in this space can seem daunting, untenable, or even impractical. However, if you keep reading, I hope to demystify getting involved in research as a budding scientist and convince you that working towards a publication and ...
How to be a good mentee
If you’ve ever attempted to find a research mentor, you know how daunting it can be. Without existing research mentors who can vouch for your work ethic, breaking into the research world can be challenging. So, once you’ve found a research mentor, it can be even more overwhelming to think about how to develop that relationship. Whether you’re in ...
Making the most of office hours
We’ve all been there. You’re standing in an empty hallway, nervously tapping your foot, waiting for your professor to finish meeting with the student before you. You can’t help but listen in, and, gosh, does that other student seem like they have their act together. It seems like everyone you know goes to their professors’ office hours to wax ...
How to participate in class without saying a word
Does your grading rubric include a category like “classroom participation”? In my experience, when students learn they are being graded on their participation, their first reaction is to participate more: more frequently, more vigorously, more visibly. They raise their hand as often as possible, even before they’ve had time to really think through ...
The three pillars of time management
The broad scope of ‘time management’ essentially boils down to three aspects: priorities, organization, and commitment. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when creating your schedule, especially as you enter a new school year. Maybe you’re trying to juggle what feels like a million activities as you’re applying to college or wondering how you are ...
How to turn around a bad semester
For most of us, entering a new environment or learning a new topic can really shake up our usual routines. Maybe your high school study habits just aren’t working for college courses, or your AP class is way more intense than expected. You might find yourself treading water to keep afloat while fighting the ever-growing burden of a large workload ...
How to get a top research internship in high school
Looking to do research and unsure about where to start? Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to developing your interests, making connections at a university, and demonstrating your passions for a particular field of work.
How to be a prodigy (in two very difficult steps)
You’ve probably heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From an early age, he was known as a child genius. Before the age of ten he could play multiple instruments, had composed many musical pieces, and had a little gift known as perfect pitch. Perfect pitch is the ability to hear a musical pitch and be able to name it, on the spot. It’s incredibly ...
3 tips on how to find your first research mentor
Are you an undergraduate or high school student looking for your first research mentor? Doing research is an incredible experience that teaches you to look at the world in a different way, work together in teams, plan out tasks for hours, days, weeks and even months in advance but, most of all, research teaches you patience. That last lesson ...
Suitcases and schedule scrapes: “packing” more punch into limited study time
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell lays out criterion that in some ways has become the anecdotal darling of pop-academic culture. You’ve likely heard of it: the 10,000-hour rule. Mastery, Gladwell purports, is a matter of numbers. Put 10,000 hours of focused practice, and you can achieve mastery of a complex set of skills. Imagine the ...
Succeeding as a STEM major
So you’ve decided to major in STEM. Congrats! If you haven’t already, you’re probably going to hear all about how there are certain courses that are absolutely horrible in your major, whether they’re meant as weed-outs, taught by, well, let’s call them distant professors, or just plain hard. This post is meant to give you a few tips for how to ...
Good writers start as good readers
Writing is a conversation. Whether you anticipate your audience to be a friend, a panel of scientists, a room full of legislators, the owner of a pizza shop, the divine universe, or oneself, to write is to put forth one’s wish to be heard. By extension, to read is to be in the position of the listener. Just as we learn to speak and to express ...
Embracing failure as a premedical student
Failure is an uncomfortable experience. Despite the knowledge that all humans are imperfect, when it inevitably happens to us, we feel shame, self-doubt, and even anger. This is especially true in premedical courses when we feel like there is so much riding on our academic performance.
Why you should join a writing circle
Whether you’re pitching a concept over email to your boss, working on a personal statement for an application, or scribbling in a personal journal, you write on a daily basis. Often, the quality of your writing is key; it can be the make-or-break factor between your stories or thoughts being compelling and understandable. Students and peers ask me ...
To ask or not to ask? That should NEVER be the question
My family often refers to me as “the questionnaire” because I am constantly peppering people with questions during all of our conversations. What can I say? I spent four years as both an English literature student at Bates College and a reporter/editor for my college newspaper. I simply always have questions to ask of myself and those around me. ...
Navigating medical school as a first-generation college student
After starting medical school, I’ve realized that being a first-generation college student is one of my greatest assets. Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents’ sacrifices motivated me to excel, and the challenge of paving my own path through academia shaped me into the person I am today. Nonetheless, navigating medial school as a ...
The one thing you need to know about Harvard School of Dental Medicine
If you are planning on applying to dental school, you should be aware of how different schools structure their program. It wasn’t until I got to the interview process that I realized how little I knew about the variations in dental curriculum across schools. I was surprised to find out that Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is one of the ...
Dreaming and designing: a short guide to your many lives
One of the most impactful books I’ve read this year is Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, a phenomenal guide by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, who lead the Design Program at Stanford University. Evans and Burnett break down the principles of design thinking and demonstrate how they can be used to build a life that is ...
Academic Success vs. Personal Wellbeing
It’s no secret that higher education has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Starting in high school (or earlier), students may begin to experience pressure to “perform”—get straight As and a perfect SAT/ACT score while juggling 37 extracurriculars to get into your dream college, make Dean’s List every semester and launch a start-up ...
Hindsight in 2020: Four things a Harvard dental student would tell his high school self to get ready for in college and beyond
1. Learn to do laundry It seems so easy, so it’s embarrassing to admit that I took fresh clothes for granted during my high school years. I was one of many students who came into college who could tell you the intricacies of the Kreb’s cycle but not the length of a washing cycle. Life skills are important - learn to do your laundry!
The mamba mentality: importance of state of mind in academic success
As someone who has been studying psychology for the past decade, I know one of the key ingredients to academic success is state of mind. I started my undergraduate journey at UCLA, and am ending my residency at University of Pennsylvania – I’ve had my fair share of schooling! Over the years, I have developed a phrase for my positive state of mind; ...
Four types of questions and when to ask them
When a toddler asks why to an infinite regress, their line of questioning inevitably becomes annoying. The reason is not that their questions individually are inherently uninteresting—or if answered seriously will not illicit fascinating information—but rather that the line of questioning that that toddler embarks on is without end.
How do you make work more like play again?
So maybe this isn't a typical day at the office, but you get the idea...
From Physics Major to People Major
Choosing a college major shouldn't be a Solomonic decision. But sometimes...
Learning in the Scary, Scary Real World
One of the most jarring moments for any college graduate is the day she is thrust out of the comfortable academic environment she has dwelt in for the last 20 years, and suddenly realizes that in the job market, none of the same rules apply. Today, we present some considered advice on how to prepare for that moment--and not let it derail you one ...
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