By Dr. Sundar A. Christopher – firstname.lastname@example.org
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January seems to come quicker and quicker each year. With that comes new beginnings, resolutions and hopefully steadfastness to review goals, vision statements, and finish what needs to be finished.
1. Review. To the student who just started graduate school it is important to reflect on the semester that just went by. How did you do in your classes? It is customary for the beginning student to take core or foundational classes so that a solid base can be built. If you did well then continue to work on the core. If you had trouble then do not simply walk away and forget about those courses. They have a habit of haunting you. Seek out some basic books in the library. For example, if you had trouble with Holton’s book on Dynamic Meteorology then check out the classic Dynamic book my Panofsky. For those of you not in Atmospheric Science that previous statement could have been in Greek! I am pretty sure that for every complex graduate level book there is a undergraduate version available.
2. New graduate students probably got a bit of a break from their advisors. I had two students who started on their Master’s program in August 2012. My research expectations for them were low. All I wanted them was to get adjusted to graduate school, read a few papers and gather some tools necessary for research. In their second semester, my expectations are much higher. They have been told that already. So gear up for some research – especially if you are being paid as a Graduate Research Assistant.
3. The late graduate. Let me jump a step and talk to the graduate student who should have graduated with a M.S. or Ph.D. a year ago. For whatever reason you have been procrastinating or the excuse has been – My research is going no where! Either way, remember that you have to take charge and get going with the graduation plan. January is a good time to draw up concrete steps to finish. That means taking a piece of a paper and writing down items such as:
1. Finish draft of first paper by February 20.
2. Complete statistical analysis for Paper 2 by March 1.
Write it down and place it in a location that you HAVE to see every day. for me it was the wall directly above my computer.
Remember that without vision there is chaos and you will become a wanderer. Here is a warning: Your advisor is as frustrated as you because of your delay in wrapping up research. Do not let that fester this year!
3. For the student who is neither new or ready to graduate. It is still time to check up on the plans you made last year. If you hadn’t – now is a good time. Hone programming and writing skills, plan on converting some of your results to a peer reviewed journal. Read more papers. Mentor some younger students on how to read a journal paper. Think outside the box and analyze a new data set or come up with some innovative techniques.
Make sure that you read the chapter in my book that talks about – Casting a vision!
Have a great New year!
Remember : Sow well now to reap big later.