Hi! I am a rising junior, currently in a lab doing wet lab technical stuff not really involved in the research process. I like my lab but I probably want to join a new/second lab in the field of my major to participate in actual research and the design and quantification etc.. I could join junior year, potentially do a thesis, but not sure how much time I would be able to allocate to it during Junior year, I also want to take the mcat then. If I joined senior year, would most labs want students who would stay an extra year beyond graduation or is senior one year probably sufficient? I am ok doing a gap year, but research probably won’t financially support that gap year is my guess.
Hi! Thanks so much for your question 🙂 I totally understand where your uneasiness comes from in switching a lab later on, and I’m sure a lot of other people can relate. Personally, I joined a lab the fall of my sophomore year, spend two years, then switched this summer going into my senior year. I don’t regret it because I am enjoying the work environment a lot more and the research is more interesting as well. I would say that it is definitely harder to find labs that are willing to take on older students who won’t stay long, but it is definitely possible – especially if you show genuine interest in the research and show that you are able to commit to it.
As a rising junior, I would maybe look into joining one this year because you have the fact that you have two more years of your undergraduate career left to your advantage. Also, it is good to get your name out there – who knows maybe you decide not to join a lab this year, but next year find yourself at a lab you were interested in joining this year! Also, most labs/PIs understand that you will have other commitments, so as long as you are upfront with them from the beginning juggling studying for the MCAT also may be doable.
Avery, PMH Advisor