So, now that you’ve survived freshman and sophomore year and you’re still a chemistry major, congratulations! Junior year is when things really suck…
6) Junior Year
This is a difficult year. Physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, (insert chemistry elective here). Back in undergrad, we needed two semesters of all these classes, so we usually distributed this amongst junior and senior year, especially since the labs that came with them were especially difficult.
If your school offers a technical writing class. TAKE it. Writing lab reports is not sufficient in learning how to write technically.
Pay attention to your classes. This is very important stuff as it’s general chemistry come back to haunt you in a more difficult and indepth form. I really liked pchem, inorganic and I was meh about analytical. Biochem was fun though, it was okay.
At this point, you should be in a research group, if you want to go to graduate schools. Hopefully you have REU experience underneath your belt as well, so just keep up the studying. Try to go to an ACS meeting and present some of the research you’ve done before. It’s a fun experience and always looks good on grad school apps. If your school has the Beckman Scholars program, apply for it. It’s competitive but it’s really good as well. If you’re an organiker, try to go for the Pfizer Undergrad Scholar program as well. Apply for undergrad research fellowships at your institution as they can go to travel as well. Also, apply for a Goldwater if you want. It’s a hella prestigious scholarship, and people who win these often go on to win NSFs, Hertzes, etc.
The summer of your junior year, if you’re interested in graduate school, start making your list. Start studying for the Chem GREs. If you’re apping for the NSF your senior year, make sure you get the waiver so the NSF can pay for your GREs instead.
7) Senior Year
Ahhh, senior year! You’re almost done. Some people go supersenior year as well, but the same advice applies. Hopefully, you’ve made your list of graduate schools. Put them into three categories: Wishlist, Reasonable, and Safety. Have most of your schools be in the Reasonable category and you’ll be fine. If you are applying, make sure that you ask your letter recommenders early. Since most grad school apps are due in December, start asking your letter recommenders in August/September.
Dont get senioritis! Finish off your classes but have fun as well, it’s your last year to really take a spring break, as there is no spring break in grad school and the real world. Treasure your friends, and dont slack off. You can slack off in the summer after graduation!
This year, make sure you apply for fellowships. As my advisors (both in undergrad and in grad school said), you definitely wont win any fellowships if you dont apply. It’s a good exercise to write the proposals even though very few people win in chemistry. It’s tough out there, and it’s good practice for future scientific writing.
Well, with all that said and done, you’ve hopefully graduated with your chem degree. Congratulations, you are a chemist! As I’m only a grad student, I dont feel that comfortable putting stuff down for grad school..perhaps when I graduate I’ll do it. But once you graduate with your B.S. or B.A. you’re a chemist! Congratulations!