qqq

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what is the answer to this question if one has a 3.8 gpa, BS in biology, 31 MCAT, and no real research experience?

do I get a job in a lab at a school and work for a few years (how many) then apply to a phD program? what if it's a no name university lab job? (i live in the country, not by choice). how do i know if i should apply to a great school or just an avg PhD program (i.e. how do i assess my strength as an applicant--is it mainly GRE scores?) how hard would it be for me to get into a top program? (i've found that it is impossible for me, as my application stands now, to get into a top med school).

if i do get a job as lab person (what do you call them, lab techs?), will i work my way up to doing things more advanced than cleaning glassware? is this what i will be doing in the beginning? how do i know if a starting lab job is a job that will allow me to work in a meaningful way toward my goal of acceptance into a PhD program? (versus a lab job that could be a waste of my time).

why do i have no research? i was never interested in research. but in the past few years, i have had a chance to live as a normal adult (not student) in a normal office job and i want to get into research. I went to an undergrad that basically had no research. it didn't have a premed program liek those i hear about on sdn either. i was never exposed to the lab except what i did in basic orgo.

Thanks.
 

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qqq said:
what is the answer to this question if one has a 3.8 gpa, BS in biology, 31 MCAT, and no real research experience?

do I get a job in a lab at a school and work for a few years (how many) then apply to a phD program? what if it's a no name university lab job? (i live in the country, not by choice). how do i know if i should apply to a great school or just an avg PhD program (i.e. how do i assess my strength as an applicant--is it mainly GRE scores?) how hard would it be for me to get into a top program? (i've found that it is impossible for me, as my application stands now, to get into a top med school).

if i do get a job as lab person (what do you call them, lab techs?), will i work my way up to doing things more advanced than cleaning glassware? is this what i will be doing in the beginning? how do i know if a starting lab job is a job that will allow me to work in a meaningful way toward my goal of acceptance into a PhD program? (versus a lab job that could be a waste of my time).

why do i have no research? i was never interested in research. but in the past few years, i have had a chance to live as a normal adult (not student) in a normal office job and i want to get into research. I went to an undergrad that basically had no research. it didn't have a premed program liek those i hear about on sdn either. i was never exposed to the lab except what i did in basic orgo.

Thanks.
Admission to US PhD programs as a US citizen is not very competitive. It might be reasonable to try research for awhile as a tech to see if you like it or the whole process could be the worst time of your life. If you are sure you want to do it (i couldn't imagine how you could know this without ANY research experience) then just take the GRE and apply. You might be surprised at the quality of the places that will try very hard to recruit you to their programs. Many places just need warm bodies to fill their labs and crank out experiments designed by the PI or post-docs (i'm not saying this is you - you might be brilliant for all i know). Recall, however, that PhD work is not like med school - once you get in there is a very good chance that you will never finish if you do not work hard and are not productive (not to mention ever get a job.....).

What are your career goals?
 

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qqq said:
what is the answer to this question if one has a 3.8 gpa, BS in biology, 31 MCAT, and no real research experience?

do I get a job in a lab at a school and work for a few years (how many) then apply to a phD program? what if it's a no name university lab job? (i live in the country, not by choice). how do i know if i should apply to a great school or just an avg PhD program (i.e. how do i assess my strength as an applicant--is it mainly GRE scores?) how hard would it be for me to get into a top program? (i've found that it is impossible for me, as my application stands now, to get into a top med school).

if i do get a job as lab person (what do you call them, lab techs?), will i work my way up to doing things more advanced than cleaning glassware? is this what i will be doing in the beginning? how do i know if a starting lab job is a job that will allow me to work in a meaningful way toward my goal of acceptance into a PhD program? (versus a lab job that could be a waste of my time).

why do i have no research? i was never interested in research. but in the past few years, i have had a chance to live as a normal adult (not student) in a normal office job and i want to get into research. I went to an undergrad that basically had no research. it didn't have a premed program liek those i hear about on sdn either. i was never exposed to the lab except what i did in basic orgo.

Thanks.
The fact that you don't have research experience will not kill you when you apply for a PhD program. However some experience will be very helpful. Especially if you want to apply to some good schools. Try to find a job as research assistant or research tech (it's the same). You are not going to wash glassware. You are going to do research.
The question is...do you really want to do research? Any PhD program is at least 5 years and it is focused primary on research. Where do you see youself after finishing the PhD?
 
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Science_Guy

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RNA said:
Admission to US PhD programs as a US citizen is not very competitive. It might be reasonable to try research for awhile as a tech to see if you like it or the whole process could be the worst time of your life. If you are sure you want to do it (i couldn't imagine how you could know this without ANY research experience) then just take the GRE and apply. You might be surprised at the quality of the places that will try very hard to recruit you to their programs. Many places just need warm bodies to fill their labs and crank out experiments designed by the PI or post-docs (i'm not saying this is you - you might be brilliant for all i know). Recall, however, that PhD work is not like med school - once you get in there is a very good chance that you will never finish if you do not work hard and are not productive (not to mention ever get a job.....).

What are your career goals?
Well....as far as being competitive, there are some PhD programs that are more difficult to get into, versus others which may be a little less selective. Let's face it......students in the U.S. today would rather go into medicine as opposed to the hard sciences, ergo the much larger numbers which apply to medical schools. They don't want to do the rigor and effort it takes to complete a good dissertation, and quite simply may not be interested in research anyway. Also, foreign students make up a HUGE percentage of graduate programs because American students don't go into these programs. The road you travel in a PhD program can be a LONG one though, make no mistake.

However, a good PhD program will force you to think critically, and to delve into details and not accept "black box" answers to things. That is why I think previous research completed either in your baccalaureate time, or post-bac work in a lab is beneficial, because you should have the opportunity to see how the scientific method is applied. In addition, you should have the opportunity to see that science isn't always as predictable as one would hope, and that when you do succeed, that can be quite a good feeling.

Finally, you must work hard in most science graduate programs to finish. Make sure you ask the right questions, because you don't want a tyrant for your graduate advisor, as they may expect you to hang around for 6-7 years....do your homework, talk to past grad students (if you can), and get an idea of the research the PI is doing. Make sure you find something you are really interested in.
 
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Thank you for the replies. I think i need to try to get a job as a research assistant to be able to feel confident about applying to a PhD program. Will I pick up the tools of the trade as a research tech? The bit about not finishing concerns me--is this normally the case when one is not smart enough? or is it simply that someone did not work hard enough?

defining my career goals is a little more nebulous. i know that i like science because in college the only classes that i enjoyed were science classes. this is all i have to go on, but i am confident that i need to be involved in some area of science to be truly interested in what i'm doing.
 
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qqq

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Science_Guy said:
Well....as far as being competitive, there are some PhD programs that are more difficult to get into, versus others which may be a little less selective. Let's face it......students in the U.S. today would rather go into medicine as opposed to the hard sciences, ergo the much larger numbers which apply to medical schools. They don't want to do the rigor and effort it takes to complete a good dissertation, and quite simply may not be interested in research anyway. Also, foreign students make up a HUGE percentage of graduate programs because American students don't go into these programs. The road you travel in a PhD program can be a LONG one though, make no mistake.

However, a good PhD program will force you to think critically, and to delve into details and not accept "black box" answers to things. That is why I think previous research completed either in your baccalaureate time, or post-bac work in a lab is beneficial, because you should have the opportunity to see how the scientific method is applied. In addition, you should have the opportunity to see that science isn't always as predictable as one would hope, and that when you do succeed, that can be quite a good feeling.

Finally, you must work hard in most science graduate programs to finish. Make sure you ask the right questions, because you don't want a tyrant for your graduate advisor, as they may expect you to hang around for 6-7 years....do your homework, talk to past grad students (if you can), and get an idea of the research the PI is doing. Make sure you find something you are really interested in.
science_guy -- i see you went to UGA. i'm stationed at warner robins (it's in GA, you may have never heard of it). what do you do now professionally?
 

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qqq said:
science_guy -- i see you went to UGA. i'm stationed at warner robins (it's in GA, you may have never heard of it). what do you do now professionally?
QQQ....sure, I am familiar with Warner Robins AFB. I grew up in GA, so very familiar with the state. The years at UGA were really good ones too....lot's to do and a great campus.

I am now involved in oncology clinical research for a pharma company. Thought about trying to do an M.D. for while after finishing, but enjoyed the research side a little better, and didn't want to go through another 4 years of postgraduate work....I was already tired from completing the PhD (5 year program).
 
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qqq

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Science_Guy said:
QQQ....sure, I am familiar with Warner Robins AFB. I grew up in GA, so very familiar with the state. The years at UGA were really good ones too....lot's to do and a great campus.

I am now involved in oncology clinical research for a pharma company. Thought about trying to do an M.D. for while after finishing, but enjoyed the research side a little better, and didn't want to go through another 4 years of postgraduate work....I was already tired from completing the PhD (5 year program).
Sounds neat. Thanks.
 
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qqq

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do you guys think i'll be able to get a part time research assistant job? i work fulltime in the week, so i guess i 'd have to work on the weekends. think i'll be able to swing some kind of deal? will i be working for free? thanks.
 

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not to switch gears from qqq's questions, but i was just wondering, does anyone know of any sort of website or book that lists average grades and scores and acceptance percentages for various biological sciences doctoral programs? thanks.
 

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To answer the OPs question: You should be able to be able to get into just about any ph.d. position in the country. Think about the implications of that before you start looking for a lab to join.
 
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