Advice from Upperclassmen Chemistry Majors

Editor’s note: We asked Marisa what she wishes she knew a year ago. Here’s her response, as well as a few from her classmates.

Getting your undergraduate degree in chemistry should be a fun, exciting, and (mostly) stress-free experience. Sure, professors with Ph.D.s and postdocs may appear intimidating, but you should look to them for guidance and seek them out for additional help in your courses when necessary. This can also work to your benefit if you’re looking to pursue research at your home institution. Getting to know your professors and their research early on, making friends in your classes (studying in groups is the way to go), and becoming an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) student chapter at your college or university will let you reap the benefits of being a hard-working, yet social undergraduate chemistry major. I asked eight upperclassmen chemistry majors from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) if they could offer any advice for underclassmen chemistry majors. Here’s what they had to say:

Jake Levene

Class of 2014

“Definitely utilize office hours and go to the tutoring center for help. Most importantly, be active in various clubs like the ACS student chapter at your institution and talk to upperclassmen.”

Mark Staroselsky

Class of 2013

“Don’t stress. Go for runs, join clubs, make friends, be happy.”

Breanne Cullen
Class of 2013
“Learning how to balance your time is key.”
John Farrokh
Class of 2013
“Try to get involved in research as early as possible.”
Kevin Lee
Class of 2013
“To the sophomores taking organic chemistry: always count your carbons.”
Marissa Rubenstein
Class of 2014
“Ask your professors about their research and get involved. Try to get as much research experience as possible.”
Kelly-Anne Gesuelli
Class 2014 
“Contribute more time on the weekends to homework. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors.”
Stefan Turan
Class of 2013
“Label everything you use in lab.”

Marisa Sanders is a senior at TCNJ, where she is studying chemistry and English. She is also the president of the ACS student chapter at TCNJ. Marisa’s hobbies include cooking zany foods, painting, birdwatching, coloring, the Beat Generation, and photoshopping. Her favorite animal is the emperor penguin.


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