About me:

  1. I'm in my last year of undergraduate studies majoring in cognitive science at a very prestigious university.
  2. I'm very interested in going to graduate school for neuroscience.

My concerns:

  1. I lack research experience. I recently just learned about how wonderful neuroscience is so I have a very late start compared to my already-competent peers. I did apply to RA positions but was rejected to all of them. I will be graduating in one semester so I do not have enough time to build up my research experience. After graduating, what can I do to be more competent - research experience wise?

  2. I have a mediocre GPA (3.077). I did not take any courses like chemistry, or physics. Many programs make these a requirement. I also did poorly in my math classes - as it is not my strength. But I did very well in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, biology psychology, philosophy, and sociology. Since I only have one semester left, I don't have enough time to take classes that programs want. Will GRE subject tests be able to compensate?

  3. Is there any hope for someone in a situation like mine? I feel very lost and hopeful, to be honest. Any words of advice would be helpful.

My current plans:

  1. Self-learn R, Matlab, Python, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  2. Take on the habit of reading papers related to the field, in order to build knowledge.
  3. Will apply to many RA positions.
  • Please do not take my comment offensive. You did not take chemistry, biology or physics. You did poorly in Math classes. Then what did you do in the school well? You have GPA 3.0. Something must be good. – scaaahu Dec 15 '17 at 4:17
  • I understand why you ask. I did very well in psychology, sociology, cognitive neuroscience, biology psychology and philosophy courses. My major is very interdisciplinary, but it doesn't require us to take courses like chemistry or physics. If I knew earlier that those classes would be useful, I would've taken them. – annieg4123 Dec 15 '17 at 4:23

The only way to prove to your future advisor that you are capable of doing research is by doing research. Apply to be an RA (Research Assistant) in a neuroscience lab. This will give you enough experience and, importantly, will equip you with the general knowledge of the field. Being exposed to ongoing work will also allow you to start formulating your own research questions, which is an important skill that you'll definitely need in grad school.

Now, how to increase your chances of getting a good RA position?

(1) By applying early and demonstrating that you're serious about the job.

(2) By learning programming (as you mentioned). Technical skills are in very high demand!

Many people end up in grad school after working as RAs for 2+ years, so there is no rush. Take your time and make sure that graduate school is really what you want. Good luck :)

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