Tips to choose your Lab
About the significance of joining a laboratory and how to choose the right one
What’s a laboratory?
After having been an undergraduate student for 3 years, you are probably enjoying the freedom and the ease of student life. Your remaining student life will be spent in the frame of one of the university’s laboratories. But be careful if you think that whichever laboratory will do. Choosing the one you will join is a crucial step.
What will change once you join a lab?
- (1) You will have your own place in the university
Until now, your life in the university was limited to attending lectures but by becoming a 4th –year student, things will change as you will be affiliated to a lab and make it the place where you fit. Whether you have lectures to attend or not, you will join a lab in which you will stay long and possess your own computer, free to use. Coming to the university gets more exciting this way, doesn’t it?
- (2) Your relationship with the professors will change
Up to now, your experience with professors was limited to listening them do their lessons in front of the students, far from your seat. Once you join a lab, you will come to a much closer relationship as you will meet on a daily basis. Then, once you graduate and you come back to the university as an alumnus, the person that will give you the warmest greeting will be your former lab head professor.
- (3) You will shape new objectives
After joining your lab, you will have to carry out a one-year research project in order to graduate. By making use of the skills you have learned up to now, you will define an original research plan of your own. A major change will occur in your academic life which will impact your plans for the future, in which you will switch from the passiveness of lectures to a spontaneous research activity. And if you manage to shape a clear idea of what you wish to do later, the way to master’s courses will be open to you!
So, what’s research all about?
Since you were in primary school you have heard too many times your professors yelling “keep studying!” at you. But don’t worry, once affiliated to your lab, this kind of things will be over. Instead of “keep studying”, you will rather be told “keep doing research”. But what’s the difference between academic study and laboratory research?
Study vs research
- (1) Studying is passive while doing research is spontaneous
Up to now, all you have done is being taught academicals. Research is not a matter of learning lessons but a matter of actively carrying out projects.
- (2) Studying is boring, research enjoyable
When you study, you have to learn many subjects even if you don’t like them. But in research, you can focus just on what you find interesting. No one will force you or tell you what you have to do. This is the main enjoyable point of doing research: you will be devoted to what you have chosen. Like for hobbies, where even people who dislike studying can persevere hard and succeed on what they like, research is essentially a matter of working on what pleases you. So, in order to enjoy your research activity, it is crucial to find a research theme that suits you.
- (3) Studying is schoolish, research is a door open to the world
Even if your academic results are outstanding, they do not cross the borders of the university. On the other hand, with good research results you will be able to take part in national conferences in which you will present them and become renowned. Better results will open the doors to international conferences, a great opportunity for students to take part in congresses in Europe or America for example. Your research will then be acknowledged and duly recognised in a worldwide scale.
How to do good research?
When you become a 4th – year student, you will be doing research for one year. But just one year may be a bit too short to produce results having worldwide impact. If you wish to make your own name in the world of research, you should carry on to graduate courses.
What are graduate courses like?
There is the same big difference between undergraduate and graduate life as between studying and doing research. As you will be evolving in your graduate courses, your main activity will be focused on research. A good point is that you will be able to focus only on the way you have chosen to follow by interest. You will then thoroughly investigate on the theme you like for two years and when your first result will be tangible you will experience tremendous delight and self-gratification. Then if you present your results in national or international conferences, you will taste the exceptional pleasure of seeing your research being approved and acknowledged by professors and researches from different horizons. Moreover, if your results help adding a brick to the worldwide scientific development, you will feel like you have found your purpose of living. Being a graduate student will give you this possibility to freely carry out your research. For those who will after that aspire to become professional researchers, the high road is to enter the three-year doctoral course.
Graduate student life mainly consists of the life in your laboratory. Choosing the right one is therefore a crucial step. Either enjoyable or boring research conditions and student life will follow from this decisive choice. So if you wish to enter a graduate program, take the time to think very carefully about the choice of your lab./p>
Important points when choosing your laboratory
- (1) The research topics
Your life in the lab will be more enjoyable if you carry out your research in a field in which you show interest. The same can be said for the presentations in conferences. So, check carefully in which labs the research themes you like are being studied.
- (2) The atmosphere
Checking what life in a laboratory is like in practice is an important thing to do. Look at how the graduate students from various labs behave and you will have a good glimpse of what belonging to their respective labs is like. Choose the lab in which you think you will feel comfortable.
- (3) The professor
Sometimes, bonds between students and their professors can last for a lifetime. Choosing a professor with whom you have good affinities is highly-recommended.
Choose the lab that fits to you and enjoy a happy graduate student life.
Following page : Words from Alumni
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