How to be a successful student.

Students: .. This is likely to be the most important thing you read in school!

How to be a
SUCCESSFUL STUDENT

The definition of 'success' that is used here is that you, the student, will easily get into the next level of education, be it college, graduate or medical school, and will enjoy your future professional life. ..These are given in descending order of importance.

  1. Get to know three (preferably four) teachers well so that they can write good letters of recommendation on your behalf. ..Don't become a senior who has abstained from personal interaction with the faculty. ..An 'is-in-good-standing-in-my-large-class' letter is negative praise. ..You want letters that mention your brilliance, cleverness, well-roundedness, and your terrific social prowess.

  2. While you are in school get summer jobs that are appropriate for your future. ..If interested in health sciences, don't be a bed-pan cleaner in a hospital. ..Instead, get a job in a medical research facility. ..Not only will you be doing something more mentally stimulating, but also you will be getting to know people who have good connections elsewhere. ..These people make excellent recommendation writers. ..Get a Nobel laureate to write a great letter for you, and colleges, med schools* and grad schools will be knocking at your door rather than the other way around.

  3. Do a junior-year research project. ..Results will come in soon enough for use in making application for college, graduate or medical school. ..For college students, try to get the results published in a reviewed journal. ..That way you have reprints for enclosure with your application. ..For high school students, go beyond science fair, and present at your state's academy of sciences, or, better, in a professional society's annual meeting. ..Remember that publication is what makes a real scientist. ..In essence, senior projects give results too late. ..Relatively few students do projects, and few of those publish.

  4. Get good grades. ..(A Nov 1993 study by the National Science Foundation indicated that college valedictorians fared less well 15 years after graduation than did students having GPA's around 3.3. ..Perhaps A+ students keep their noses in the books too much, while B+ students make social contacts. ..It is not only what you know but who you know!)

  5. Become verbally fluent in describing your academic accomplishments. ..If you did some useful research, you should be able to tell about it with punch and so excite others. ..This is extremely important on your interview trips to colleges, grad and med schools. ..When asked if you have participated in any research projects, you will steal the interviewer's show when you capture his/her imagination and most of the interview is spent by obvious mutual consent on the scientific advancement you did. ..You will have set yourself apart from 99% of the applicants.

  6. Interview your prospective school rather than the other way around. ..(Do this after you have finished your first good research project.) ..After identifying those people and research projects in which you have interest in at the school, study up on those people's work for a couple of hours each. ..Then seemingly wander into their department as if you just happened to be passing through. ..Tell the researcher that you are interested in what they are doing (read: .."Hey! I like your baby.") ..Plan an opening question, and then "Mom" or "Dad" will take it from there showing you all the 'album pictures' by introducing you to the other faculty, lab technicians, graduate students and others in the lab. ..You could only be thought of as being extremely intelligent: ..afterall you are interested in the same thing they are, and only smart people are interested in those things! ..Don't be surprised to be asked to apply to their school. ..See several other people in the department. ..Soon you'll be known by members of the Admissions Committee! ..Need more be said?!


    * If you plan on going to medical school or veterinary school, you will want to set yourself far apart from all the other thousands who are also applying. Consider who is on the admissions committee. These are doctors who are interested in research and teaching, in addition to putting their hands on and into their human or animal patients. To them the usual tasks given to pre-med and pre-vet students of being orderlies and shadowing doctors are menial activities. If you want to impress them, you can do so by showing them that you worked on a medical or veterinary related research project in which some new procedure, or new vaccine, or whatever was invented in your hands. That creativity really turns these admissions people on, and it will make you the one-in-a-thousand of that applicant pool. Don't forget to have your research boss write a letter on your behalf. And submit a copy of your published research paper along with your application. Oh, and one final thing: don't forget to ask about research rotations while in the med or vet school. That really rings their bell also! AGAIN: these future teachers of yours are not your usual doctors or vets seen in local hospitals or clinics. These are that and much more - they are researchers, too! That is the real excitement in their lives, and thus they will be impressed with your having done a real research experiment.


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