These points are meant to be read as a primer for the Grad School Application posts presented later in this series.

  1. The grad school application posts are only meant for prefinal year undergraduates (ex: 4th year BS MS) who have already decided on pursuing a PhD ahead.
  2. You, like everyone, are unique, and so is your life. Discover your own path, that will give you more thrill and happiness. Real explorers, seafarers and scientists do not take roadmaps and guidelines.
  3. Young undergrads (ex: 1st, 2nd, 3rd year BS MS), please do not plan much. Life is not a race, it is a dance. Just flow freely and see what comes along the way. Best things in life happen serendipitously.
  4. Go slow. It is okay to not do a research internship for a summer. It is okay to explore something unrelated for a summer just because you like it as a hobby (try filmmaking, painting, music, theatre, economics, archeology, whatever!). It is okay to not apply abroad, to not participate in competitions, to not run this futile rat race. It is okay to pause at times and introspect.
  5. Love your subject faithfully and in true honesty. First develop thorough knowledge of its fundamentals, learn from the textbooks at great depths, read research reviews and articles, attend seminars and talks, only then you will start appreciating the questions being pursued at its research frontier. Only then would you be able to eventually frame a question yourself and attempt to find its answer.
  6. PhD is not the only option after IISERs. Any institute/IISER provides only a platform to gather a minimal knowledge and skillset upon which you can build on a career in whatever direction you feel passionate about. With a background in science you can: (a) Communicate science and its history through films, documentaries, podcasts, articles; (b) Inform government and organizations in policy making by joining civil services, think tanks, activism, journalism etc.; (c) Nucleate a business idea, gather a team and build a startup; (d) Teach young highschool students and work to make quality education accessible and affordable; (e) Work in industrial jobs or scientific publishing houses etc. Finally, there is always an option to completely change your field and start afresh with new optimism and enthusiasm.