The Fascinating World of Science Scholars (+how to apply in year 2)
Want to know more information about this *exclusive* programme UoA barely promotes on their website? Let me try break it down the best I can!
Welcome to my first actual post of 2022 (and so sorry for my extended hiatus!). Today I’m gonna talk about how I applied for Science Scholars in my second year of being at UoA and what the process was like! I’ll also try to give you some insight as to how the programme has been going for me so far ^.^
So… What is Science Scholars?
I feel like the University of Auckland and the science faculty do a pretty bad job of promoting the programme overall so let me try to decode their website and give you an *inside look* as to what Science Scholars is actually like.
The Science Scholars Programme is kind of like an ‘extension’ programme open to all first (and second) year students studying any Science major. Unlike other courses who focus purely on theory and your discipline, Science Scholars is a programme that caters to every Science student! Here you learn about how to be a successful scientist and real-world applications such as networking, applying for grants and even doing your own research project in your third year!
Unlike many of your other courses, Science Scholars is purely pass/fail — no stress of getting an A+! That being said, there are still small assignments you need to compete throughout the year and you often need to do a group project at the end of each semester. However, let’s just say the stakes are much lower than having to hand in an assignment worth 20% or having to do a final exam! Also, each semester counts 7.5 points towards your degree, meaning if you do Science Scholars for the full three years, you would have accumulated the equivalent of doing 3 science papers at each Stage.
Science Scholars Year-By-Year
Science Scholars is a 3 year programme that focuses on different aspects of being a scientist in the real world. Since I have only done the first semester of the second year, my knowledge is pretty limited but luckily for you guys, my boyfriend is also a Science Scholar and I can give you really bad description based on what he told me! (Definitely not comprehensive, but I guess it’s better than what UoA provides).
Year 1 — Science in Action (SCISCHOL 100A and 100B)
In your first year you will be introduced a bunch of cool scientists that come in to talk about their experience in their field and how they got there. I remember when my boyfriend and I were in lockdown and I got to watch some of them (which basically is the reason why I really wanted to take the programme in the first palce). All of these guest speakers are amazing and interactive where you will learn so much about different disciplines that are not yours as well!
In terms of assignments, I know you have to do a group project at the end of the first semester just about a scientific discovery that interests you. It looked pretty fun from what I saw if you enjoyed the same topic as your group! In the second semester you will write some blog posts about science that fascinates you that goes into a cute little journal that you get to keep later on.
Year 2—Research and Discovery (SCISCHOL 202A and 202B)
This is the year I joined (although as I am writing this it’s only the first semester)! Ngl, this year is definitely A LOT more boring that what I saw of last year (and many other Science Scholars agree). However you learn a lot about innovation in science and what it takes to be successful in the industry (e.g. networking skills and project proposals). Most of the lectures consist of group discussions and class debates which is pretty fun if you’re into that kind of stuff.
So far I have completed two short assignments for this course. The first was an essay about how I think I would make a good psychological researcher (just bragging to the max) and the second is about creating an idea that will solve one of the Sustainable Development Goals. Mine was a website that connects scientists to the world so the public sees what good science can do. I am also working on a group project about said ideas and how we can combine them to benefit scientific research. More on this space once I’ve finished second semester!
Year 3 — Science Scholars Project (SCISCHOL 302A and 303B)
I don’t really know much about what is done here but as soon as I know more I’ll update this space! Basically you will spend two semesters going through the entire scientific method to create a presentation about something you’re passionate about. Exciting stuff!
How I Applied (and Somehow Got In!)
When I decided that I wanted to pursue a BHSc/BSc conjoint, my boyfriend was on my case about joining Science Scholars so:
- I could spend more time with him (gross)
- I could develop a strong portfolio and networking skills that could benefit me in a career as a psychologist in any discipline
I was totally onboard with this idea — not only was I going to get all this knowledge about how to be a researcher, I was going to learn more about what I wanted to do at a time where I was super lost. However I never thought about what area of psychology I was interested in so I spent most of my December after exams researching what topic I would write about for my application essay.
For your application essay (regardless if you’re a high school leaver or university student) you’ll need to write a 300 character (not word) statement and around a 1000 word essay about a scientific discovery that has fascinated or worried you. For high school students, you will need a reference from someone who can back up your love for science and for undergraduate applicants, all you need is to submit your application and a GPA over 7.
I think I spent about 2 weeks thinking and writing about my essay (keep in mind it was the holiday season and it wasn’t really a priority), but once I found my topic I was all a go! I wrote about the Relationship Between Music and Psychoneuroendocrinology (very catchy title). As someone who has struggled with hyperthyroidism and also an avid lover of music, this topic only felt fitting. I had a lot of fun researching my topic which I think came out in my writing (I was so eager I submitted this essay in December when it was due at the end of January and totally forgot I wrote this :p).
I got my acceptance letter in early February and I was both excited, thrilled and a little scared. I had already planned that I wasn’t getting in and did not incorporate Science Scholars into my timetable from the beginning. I managed to work it out but let’s just say — juggling core courses in BHSc and catching up on first year psychology papers is not fun. Nonetheless, I was excited that I was in the programme and that it was a weight lifted off my shoulders in terms of doing Stage II Science papers this year.
Going Psycho(logy)’s POV
Although I never really envisioned doing Science Scholars in high school, I’m so glad I picked it up. Not only do I get to knock off a couple of science papers, I also get to spend time with my friends and learn about the fascinating world of science and discovery (not to mention the biscuits and tea before class!). Sure, sometimes the classes can be a bit mundane but I’m someone who likes looking at the long-term goals — having a programme like this where you can develop your research skills and learn about networking with other scientists and investors is what can make you stand out in job applications and in your discipline.
I’m kinda sad that there’s not much promotion of the programme in general. I feel like the skills taught throughout Science Scholars are ones that can be applied to any discipline of science and should be way more accessible to everyone in the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland. Hopefully that changes in the next few years!
Now that I’m back (and maybe better than ever?) feel free to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always more than happy to help!
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy!
Going Psycho(logy) ^.^