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phd student

Have you ever wondered what a journey from High School to a PhD Degree is like? 

PhD students end up getting highly specialized degrees in their field. Still, they also have to have years of experience and research before becoming a candidate for advanced degrees like a doctorate (PhD). But even if you don’t have the slightest thought of going to a PhD degree, the progression from high school to college is something we can all relate to. It’s been our experience, too, whether we remember it or not. 

Plan out and become the master of your dream: 

Step 1. Decide your goal. 

  1. If you are in high school and even if you aren’t, I think it is important to have a basic idea of what you want to do with the rest of your life.  
  2. This doesn’t mean that it has to be something specific, but at least have an idea, like “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be an engineer” or “I want to be a banker.” The specifics can come later. 
  3. Now that you know what you want to do, research how you can get there. For example, if you want to be a doctor, find out what classes would prepare you for medical school and talk to some people who are already in the field.  
  4. Ask questions! You don’t have to know everything right away, but having a basic understanding of how the world works will help you make better decisions later on. 

Step 2. Make a plan for getting there. 

Based off your research, make a plan for yourself (or with the help of someone else).  

For example, if you wanted to become a doctor and go through medical school and residency. It would probably take about ten years after college before you could practice medicine without supervision 

Step 3. Education should be a step process, don’t skip or else, you’ll be left with nothing: 

  1. You may not know where you want your journey to take you, but that’s ok. You’ll figure it out along the way. There are many different paths, and even if your path veers off in unexpected directions, as long as it feels right for you, then it is right for you. 
  2. Your first step towards getting a PhD Degree is getting a bachelor’s degree. This usually takes 4 years and will prepare you for the years of study ahead of you. It’s also an opportunity to get research experience, which will help later on when applying to graduate school. 
  3. When applying to colleges, be sure to ask about the research opportunities they offer. One way you can get involved in research is by working with a professor on a project related to their interests.  
  4. In most cases, this will be part of a more extensive research group and can be a great experience working as part of a team on something important. 


Step 4. Meet with faculty one-on-one to talk about PhD research favorable:  

You meet with faculty one-on-one to talk about research areas that interest you and which professors’ labs would provide good opportunities for you to learn new skills and develop as a researcher yourself: 

  1. When you find out you have the necessary background knowledge to join a particular research group by taking classes and/or reading materials related to their area of study: 
  2. You contact the professor about joining their lab, and discuss what projects you might be working on.  
  3. If there are current openings in the lab, you may be invited to join! Otherwise, there may be some time before an opening becomes available for you to join. 

Step 5. Spend your last year or two of college working in a PhD research lab: 

Don’t be afraid to talk to people.  

  1. You never know what opportunities they might have or what their advice might be. You may end up working with someone you met during your undergraduate years. 
  2. If you do go on to graduate school, don’t expect it to be like an undergrad. Graduate school is much more focused and independent than college. 


Make a Plan and Stick to it! 

There are tons of different paths you can take to get a PhD degree, so there is no one way to do it. Just make sure you plan for it and stick to the plan. The highs are incredible, and the lows are challenging, but be resilient and push through them–they are only temporary. Education has more significantly made all the difference in the world. Your actions and character are: to be productive, write it down somewhere (a calendar would be a suggestion) so that it becomes more manageable for you to stay on track with your goals and plans. 

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