How I’m Preparing for Graduate School Interviews

Hi, friends! I mentioned in a previous post that I have been invited for interview weekends at a couple of the graduate schools I applied to! I am so excited! Graduate school interviews usually span an entire weekend, because they include the interview itself, information sessions about the program, a formal dinner with faculty members and current graduate students, and a campus tour. It’s not only an interview for the admissions committee to learn more about their applicants, but a recruitment tool to convince students to accept their admission offer. Interviews are a critical part of the graduate school application process, so I spent this past weekend preparing for my graduate school interviews. Here’s what I did:

How I'm Preparing for Graduate School Interviews

Buying the right clothes

As a Florida girl, I don’t have much experience with winter weather, but that’s about to change during my graduate school interviews. I will be interviewing at a couple of universities up north in February, when it’s surprisingly still pretty cold by Florida standards (around 30-40 degrees F). I don’t have the appropriate clothes for this weather, so I need to find clothes not only for the interview, but to help me deal with the cold, too. My choice of clothing is important because I need to look clean and professional (appearance is important for this kind of thing!) for the interview while also keeping warm.

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Spring 2018 Semester Goals

Hi, friends! I hope you all had a happy and safe break! I can’t believe it’s finally 2018 and that my final semester of undergrad is starting soon. A new year is a great excuse to re-evaluate our lives and set new goals, so that’s exactly what I did. Here are some of my goals for this upcoming semester!

Follow a skincare routine

I never felt the need to follow an elaborate skincare routine because I don’t have acne. However, I have little red bumps on my forearms that have recently begun to bother me (not because they are painful, but because they are not pretty). I asked my doctor about it and it’s a common, harmless condition called keratosis pilaris. She recommended I use a lotion and a sunscreen every day. In 2018, I want to keep this skincare routine to hopefully eliminate these little spots!


Exercise multiple times per week

As a busy college student, it can be tough to keep up with an exercise routine. I want to do some cardio and two or three rounds of the 7 Minute Workout at least three times every week. Do you guys have any exercise routines/regimes that you can recommend? If you do, let me know in the comments!


Post on the blog twice per week

I want to keep up with posting on the blog, too. Last semester was tough, and that caused me to neglect my blog. I don’t want that to happen again this semester! I want to plan posts in advance so that I publish two posts every week. (Cue the editorial calendar!)


Pray daily

My faith is a big part of my life, and I want to continue that this semester. I want to set aside some time every morning to pray and read the Bible. I did this last semester and it really gave me the energy to take on the tough semester.


Limit social media time

I have been spending way too much time on social media lately. I don’t want to cut it out completely because I still want to promote my blog posts, but I want to reduce the time I spend on it. I will try to spend more time reading and writing rather than mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.


Bucket List:

Along with goals, I decided to write a bucket list. The goals I just mentioned were more like habits that take time to build, while these bucket list items are accomplishments I can check off a list. Here we go!


Attend graduate school interviews

The last time I checked in with you guys, I mentioned on my Becoming Dr. Aly series that I was working on graduate school applications. Over these past few weeks, I finished them and have gotten a couple of interview invitations! This coming semester, I will be traveling to these schools not only to interview, but to see the campus and to meet current graduate students.


Get straight A’s

Since this is my last semester of undergrad and I will be traveling quite a bit, I am taking a lighter course load this semester. I want to finish off my undergraduate career well by getting straight A’s in the classes I’m taking. It’s going to require work, but I’m willing to do it!


Watch Marvel’s Infinity War

Marvel movies are my favorite, so I am definitely looking forward to Infinity War. Even though I had seen the trailer on YouTube, I got chills when I finally saw it on the big screen at the movie theater. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you should!


I love using a new year as an excuse to set more goals, and I encourage you to do the same. Setting goals inspires me to work hard to better myself, and that’s exactly what I plan to do in 2018.


What are your goals for this upcoming semester?

Grad School Application Timeline: Senior Year

Hi, friends! Today’s post is the second part to my earlier post on the “Grad School Application Timeline: Junior Year”. In today’s post, let’s talk about what you can do to prepare for graduate school during your senior year!

During your senior year, things get tough because now you REALLY have to worry about applications along with your regular classes. It’s time consuming, but you can do it! As long as you give yourself enough time and are organized about it. Here’s the graduate school timeline for your senior year:

Fall (August-December), Senior Year

Take the GRE again, if necessary

If you’ve taken the GRE once, you need to wait 21 days before you can take it again. This is good, because it gives you a chance to continue studying before re-taking it. Spend some more time studying the concepts you feel weak in. Then, go for it again!

Here's what you should be doing during your senior year to prepare for graduate school applications! Click To Tweet

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Grad School Application Timeline: Junior Year

Hi, friends! I’m sorry I’ve been absent from my blog lately. My classes (I’m looking at you, organic chemistry) and my graduate school applications have been taking up a lot of my time. But in my absence, I learned a lot about the graduate school application process, and I’d like to share it with you all! So I decided to write a post about a good graduate school application timeline. In this post, I will focus on what you should be doing during your junior year to prepare for your graduate school applications.

Grad School Application Timeline: Junior Year | Here's what you should be doing during your junior year to prepare for graduate school applications!

Here's what you should be doing during your junior year to prepare for graduate school applications! Click To Tweet

Spring (January-April), Junior Year

General research

Now that you’ve decided to continue your education through graduate school, start doing some general research on grad programs in your field. How long do they generally take? How much do they cost? Which programs are the best? Don’t get too bogged down on picking a favorite program just yet. For now, just do some research to make sure that grad school is for you.

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My Experiences as a Biology Major

Hi, friends! For the next post in my “Becoming Dr. Aly” series, I wanted to expand on my previous post, “Why I Chose to Study Biology” and talk about my experiences as a biology major, including how I knew it was for me, potential career paths, common misconceptions about biology majors, and advice for future biology majors. Here we go!

My Experiences as a Biology Major

How I Knew Biology Was For Me

I knew biology was for me when I was interested in my high school biology class. Biology, chemistry, and math came naturally to me. I loved (and I still do love) talking about what I learned in science class. I felt like that’s what my brain was wired for, so that’s why I chose to major in biology!

Potential Career Paths for a Biology Major

Among my group of friends, there are two major career paths you can take in biology: medical school or graduate school. Medical school prepares you to be a medical doctor (MD); seeing patients and prescribing medicine. On the other hand, graduate school prepares you for a career in research or in academia (PhD); working in a lab. I know some people who want to do both, an  MD-PhD! Of course, these are not the only options, but those are the most popular. Other, less popular, options are pharmacology, forensics, government/policy, industry, economics, and science communication. Here is a more in-depth list of things you can do with a biology degree!

Personally, I am aiming for a PhD, because I want to pursue a career in research and academia. I am destined for a life in the lab, not in a patient examination room. So, graduate school is my option!

Common Misconceptions about Bio Majors

We all want to be doctors

More often than not, as soon as I tell someone I’m a biology major, they’ll ask me, “Are you pre-med?” Most biology majors are pre-med and are seeking to get into medical school, but not all of us. Some of us, like me, are pursuing a career in research, or in the other fields I mentioned earlier.

It’s too hard

I wouldn’t say that studying biology is hard. I would say that studying biology requires WORK and TIME. People consider biology a hard subject because it’s not something that we easily grasp. It takes a committed person to study hours and hours to understand a tricky concept. As long as you are committed and try your best, you should do well in biology.

Science is an analytical field, so it does not require creativity

The general public usually thinks of science as an analytical field, not a creative one. However, the goal of science is to solve problems and answer questions. How do we do that? By thinking up creative solutions and asking creative questions. We must be creative to come up with good hypotheses and good experiments to test these hypotheses.

Advice for Potential Bio Majors

Don’t give up

You will have some bad days, but that doesn’t mean you should stop! Please remember why you decided to study biology in the first place, and hopefully that will give you strength to keep studying and attending class.

Get help

If you’re struggling, there are many resources that can help you. There are no excuses for you to be struggling. If you need help in your classes, visit the tutoring center or your professor directly during office hours. If you’re struggling mentally, visit the campus counseling center. Take advantage of the resources your school offers you!

Actively seek out opportunities

Opportunities are not just going to jump out at you. Go to career fairs and student activity fairs to find out what’s happening on campus. Graduate and medical schools want well rounded and experienced students, so this is the way to do that. Especially as a biology major, working in a lab can be a help. Opportunities are available, you just have to look for them.