I applied for the University Honors Summer Scholars program in order to strengthen my application for graduate school. Having completed my capstone project, it is easy to see how the program helped me accomplish this. The Honors Department gave me the resources to pursue my own research idea from start to finish, which is an invaluable experience for an applicant to have. As testimony to the usefulness of my Summer Scholarship, I was recently admitted to the doctoral program in Psychological & Brain Sciences at my top choice of schools, the University of California, Santa Barbara.
During my interviews for graduate school, the advice I received from my advisors was confirmed: independent research experience is the most important factor when applying for research-based PhD programs such as psychology or neuroscience. Because of the large time commitment required for such an undertaking, the Summer Scholars program provided generous stipends to ensure that my fellow Scholars and I could devote our full attention to our respective projects. This allowed me to spend my summer brainstorming with my advisors, creating my experimental protocol, and beginning to write a manuscript.
Data collection continued into the Spring semester, when I ran the final analyses and defended my results before a committee of faculty members. I recently returned from the Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, an international conference in San Francisco, where I presented some of the data from my project. This was a great opportunity to practice presenting my own work to other researchers in the field. And it was a perfect excuse for a road trip.
I count my Summer Scholarship among the most valuable and memorable parts of my NIU experience – along with the chance to work with my wonderful advisors, Dr. Angela Grippo and Dr. David Bridgett; the incredibly eye-opening Foundations of Psychedelic Studies course I took with Dr. Thomas Roberts; the marvelous friends I’ve made over the years; and, of course, the lagoon. The program is an incredible resource for self-motivated students looking to make the most of their undergraduate career and gain a competitive edge when applying for graduate school. Please keep the funding coming!
Thanks to UHSS, I’ve had the opportunity to experience firsthand some of the challenges involved in conducting an original research project. I feel well-prepared to move out to sunny California and take the next steps along my educational path. Thanks for your interest!