In this alumni spotlight, we meet Linsey Quarles, Class of 2011 and first-year Neuropsychology graduate student at the University of Texas at Tyler.
How has graduate school compared to life at CNU? What are some of the biggest differences that you’ve felt, so far?
Grad school is similar to undergrad in that you show up to classes, the professor lectures, you take notes, discuss and ask questions and then go home. What’s different about grad school, at least for me, is that it is so much more meaningful because this is my future career. I’m not sitting in a Spanish class thinking that this is getting me nowhere in my degree (although living in Texas those Spanish classes have certainly come in handy!), instead I’m solely taking classes in clinical psychology and neuroscience. In grad school, you are expected to take much more responsibility for your learning- there’s no attendance policies or reading quizzes because if you don’t show up or read, you’re only hurting your own career and chances of being successful.
While at CNU, I know that you conducted research in Dr. Sherman Lee’s lab. What is research like at the graduate level?
Research is a critical part of any graduate program and I think without it you have virtually no chance of entry into a PhD program. Currently, I am working with Dr. Andrew Schmitt on a few different projects focusing on neuropsychological testing. The first is aimed mainly at establishing the validity and reliability of the Comprehensive Trails Making Test (CTMT), a relatively new expansion of the Trails Making Test (TMT) that focuses on examining levels of executive functioning in the frontal lobe. The second, and the one I am the most excited about, is creating a version of the Trails Making Test for the iPad. We are in the beginning stages but I think that this is the future of neuropsychological testing and I am excited to be a part of it!
That does sound really exciting! You’ve already done so much and you just started!
I’ve only been working with Dr. Schmitt for about a month but I’ve already touched on almost all the aspects of the research process. I’ve looked over and tried to edit a paper which he had already written, done research for the new projects, and written just a bit. The only part I haven’t been able to get into is collecting data and that’s because I haven’t been here long enough. So be prepared to jump right in!
So – speaking to those students who are looking ahead to graduate school, what advice would you give them to help them succeed?
Do research with a professor! I worked with a professor at CNU on a few projects and it really helped me hit the ground running with Dr. Schmitt. I seemed to be a bit ahead of some of his other research assistants in this aspect.
Take the GREs very seriously. They are much harder than the SAT and more important, they are often used to weed out applicants in the first rounds of the process.
Save up money for applications! It’s not uncommon at all to apply to 10 schools and only get into 1 and at $50 or so a pop that adds up.
Be ready to do the work without a professor pushing you.
Find an area that you love! My masters program is 2 ½ years and then probably a PhD program will be another 4-5 and I can only imagine that I would be absolutely miserable if I didn’t enjoy my chosen field.
That all sounds like great advice! Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself to the website, and good luck with everything!