Emil's Epilogue, p.2

  • Taylor Olson, continued.
  • Stats class (PSY 224). I know that when I took stats class it was not my favorite material, but once I got to grad school and took stats there, I was thankful we had such capable professors.  During some class lectures I would assist my professor with how to work SPSS.  Professor’s knowledge of SPSS is also a huge advantage.  Dr. Kruger knows a lot about the program, use him.  It’s one thing to know how to come up with a research idea and collect data, but if you don’t know how to analyze it, you can’t interpret it.  Taking PSY 224 prepared me for my graduate stats class.  At the end of the semester I was asked to be a tutor for the subject and provide students with assistance during our labs on how to use SPSS.  This looks great on resumes and impresses your professors and potential supervisors.   
  • Research Methods and Design (PSY 225).  To be marketable and to obtain an internship site, which is a requirement for being licensed, you need to have some research experience…even if you don’t go into a Ph.D. program that focuses on research.  A requirement of PSY 225 is that you conduct your own research project either alone or more likely with a partner or two.  This is a huge benefit.  It was extremely surprising to me how many of my classmates have never conducted any research, either independently or under a professor.  It was a huge advantage to me to have that experience.  Also a requirement of PSY 225 is making a poster and presenting your research.  Granted the Psychology symposium at the end of the semester isn’t super formal but you still have to prepare a poster and be able to answer questions about your project.  Another aspect of obtaining a good internship site is showing experience presenting the research you’ve conducted either in poster form or oral presentations.  Going into grad school with presentation experience is advantageous.
  • Independent Research.  With all the professors being involved in their own research and willing to assist any student who is interested -- take advantage of conducting your own research projects.  It could be part of an apprenticeship by helping a professor with their research or working on an honors project.  Even if you don't want a grade or want to create your own project for fun, the resources, support, and opportunity is available to you.  Once you get into grad school you won’t necessarily have a captive audience (i.e. intro to psych classes) to use as test subjects or a program that supports you with so many resources (i.e. free poster printing).
  • Bio/Neuropsych (PSY 238/260).  One of the first courses I took in grad school was biopsychology.  The first day of class my professor informed me that over 50% of students fail the first exam and several students every year have to retake the class.  This statement obviously worried me, but there was no need.  The fact that I took biopsych at Gustavus prepared me more than adequately.  The class was basically exactly the same and I was able to offer my classmates help with understanding concepts like action potentials.  Several of my classmates were not required to take related course work as an undergrad and they struggled through the material.  Take advantage of this opportunity.

Obviously other things are important and helpful, but being in my particular program I have noticed that these four things have provided me with a visible advantage over most of my classmates.  If you are interested about learning about my program in particular or have general questions about graduate school and the process of applying, interviewing, deciding, and/or attending don’t hesitate to contact me at tolson@forest.edu.  Enjoy Fall semester and all the future snow…we only get an inch or two here the entire winter!