Is Grad School Right for You? Looking at Labs Can Help You Decide
As an undergraduate, the best way you can decide if you want to go to grad school is to sample some of the laboratory environments (for a couple of months, not years) that you think might be interesting.
There are a few reasons to test out lab environments.
Many programs consider candidates’ previous laboratory experience. You should also understand what you’re getting into because when you commit to a PhD program, you’ll be there for at least five years. Importantly, everybody has a different personality and preferred work style, and it will be beneficial to look for the type of labs that might be a good match.
To help you narrow down your search, think about what you can imagine yourself doing day-to-day for years, what you want to do long-term, what you truly enjoy, and what your best skills are. Then look for labs that would give you a chance to fulfill this vision.
Another consideration when looking at graduate programs is whether you’ll get exposure to diverse areas. There are some neuroscience programs that have certificates for the pharmaceutical industry, more of the business side of neuroscience, or teaching. There are certain programs structured so you can look for places that can give you more exposure to, let's say, bioinformatics or policy. Many of your opportunities depend on your program’s setup, so pay attention when researching grad school — thinking about what offerings you want and what are available that you can enjoy to your advantage.
Overall, no matter what field you go into, grad school helps prepare you to become an independent thinker, discover important questions, and troubleshoot to understand and fix problems.