Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Organized process, prioritizing pretty, and getting by with a little help from my friends

TL;DR: Start early, write sections in an organized order, prioritize 20.109, and appreciate MIT.

This paper is a whirlwind, much more so than the Mod 1 Summary. For me, the hardest part was keeping track of moving parts. I highly recommend that students perform ALL data analysis and make all figures before writing. I made the mistake of doing everything at approximately the same time, partially from the rush of trying to hand the paper in on time, and the result was a lot of disorganized changing of different parts of the paper at the same time. I'm a firm believer that the process of writing comes out in final products, and disorganized process usually turns into disorganized writing. This was very true, and I ended up spending an extra day putting together my paper in a way that (hopefully) makes sense to a reader.

That being said, the extra day was a huge blessing. As I was talking about in a previous blog post, senior spring for me has been a storm of med school applications, gap year job applications, MCAT studying, and still attempting to make the most of my time at MIT (after all, I will miss this place). I was surprised by how good it felt to spend Sunday and Monday writing, playing with Stata and Inkscape, and making my paper look pretty-- prioritizing 20.109 in ways I haven't been doing to the same extent otherwise this semester.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the report benefitted from some pretty amazing help. Lab partner Reid filled me in on missed experiments, and gave me a preview of trends to look for when he was ahead of me in statistical analysis. My boyfriend (I think wanting to be as helpful as possible without actually having to read anything) criticized my figures until I became personally invested to the point that I now link their prettiness to my own self-worth. My roommates fed me homemade power food (and store-bought ice cream) and much coffee. Ultimately I've always found MIT to be an extremely supportive academic environment-- a big piece of advice to future 20.109ers and all underclassmen is to take advantage of it!

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