Director, Master's Degree Program Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University
some ability to assign proper yaîuesjo various kinds of activities. In other wordsTcan they distinguish important problems from trivial problems? We don't care particularly what _th_gyVe^ done, but_ they should provide some evidence of judgment. They need to have some sense, of proportion about the structure of the scientific community, the academic community, or the industrial/commercial community (depending on just what their ambitions are).,Wgjbpk for students who wish to make fundamental contributions. They usually say what they've done and what they would like to do, and we read both parts carefully. 1 think there's a full page provided in the form, but they're free to add other pages and they often do. We check to what extent the statement corresponds with letters of recommendation because often applicants will talk about their work and we'll have a letter from the person under whom they did the work,
1 would say it's a mistake to fill up that page with details of the buffers they used in order to extract the rat liver; they should display a sense of proportion, they should know that we don't care what the concentration of calcium chloride was, and so on. Anybody with any judgment would realize that's a waste of our time. Often they praise the institution—referring to our "outstanding" this and "outstanding" that—and this is pretty much a useless exercise. If the statements are vacuous and full of platitudes, that's obviously a negative._lf they can't be explicit about future plans, they should at least give some example of the kind of thing they consider important.
As they look back on their past, the applicants should extract the value of their efforts. In some cases, the efforts might not have been successful but the applicant can, above all, be honest and say "We tried this project; it didn't work and we learned why. Nonetheless, 1 like to do science, etc----" It's just as effective to read an intelligent analysis of something that didn't work as a recital of a lot of things that did. U is the analytical capability that counts. And the same for future plans, as 1 indicated before; there should be some sense of proportion about what counts and a realization that you have to balance effort against reward: you want to maximize reward per unit of effort; some sense of ability to do that is looked for. You should avoid being overly colorful or cute. Somebody wrote, "What I like doing most is people." Well, that sort of makes you ill. So I'd say don't be too cute, don't be too boring, and show some analytical, interpretive skills.
Three or four people read each statement.
, ■! '■'■i'-f.'.r- '' • T-1'-;"! fv-' - J- <-■ , , ,
Was this article helpful?