Op-Ed Contributors – Ditch Your Laptop, Dump Your Boyfriend – NYTimes.com
Advice for freshmen from the people who actually grade their papers and lead their class discussions.
Universities are places where facts are made. Research is a collaborative process, so scientists need lab assistants, humanities researchers need library aides and graduate students need all the help they can get. A curious, competent undergraduate can always find work assisting a researcher.
Regardless of the field and the specific project, helping them helps you. The obvious benefits are new skills and invaluable experience. But there is also something powerful in seeing how the right experimental or analytical approach can sort through a mess of observations and opinion to identify real associations between phenomena, like a gene variant and a disease, or a financial tool and the availability of credit. With a window into the world of research, you will find yourself thinking more critically, accepting fewer assertions at face value and perhaps developing an emboldened sense of what you can accomplish.
Most important: research experience shows you how knowledge is produced. There are worse ways to prepare for life in an information age.
— AMAN SINGH GILL, Ph.D. student in the ecology and evolution department at Stony Brook University