This advice is heavily based upon my own experiences as a student and a mentor. Please keep in mind that I am coming from the perspective of completing all of my schooling in the United States.
Interested in studying anthropology?
Resources for high school students
If you are currently in high school thinking you may want to study anthropology in college my main advice to you is to keep an open mind. Should you choose to pursue a career in anthropology (which usually involves going onto graduate school) it is less important which school you attended for your undergraduate degree and more important how well you do there. On the whole if you are interested in anthropology, social sciences in general, biological sciences, and conducting research, I would recommend looking at larger schools. If you do happen to change your mind then there will be lots of options and different professors to learn from and work with.
Links: The American Association of Anthropology has a good explanation of the different sub-fields within anthropology to help you identify if studying anthropology is a good fit for you.
resources for undergraduate students
The first couple years of college is a great exploratory time. If you are interested in anthropology I highly recommend taking any introductory anthropology courses. Some universities offer a class that introduces you to all the sub-fields, while others have intro classes for each sub-field.
Links: This Student Guide page has a list of relevant resources for anthropology divided by sub-discipline. This can help you narrow down
resources for graduate students
First of all, congratulations on your acceptance to study anthropology at the graduate level. Grad school is a particular challenge, great because you really get to focus on your chosen research but challenging in the amount you will be expected to read and write and perhaps teach.
Tips for Research
Identifying your masters or doctorate project can seem very daunting. Here are some tips for getting started.
- Start by reading relevant literature in your area/time period of interest
- Ask your advisor – chances are they are in the know and can point you in the right direction (Prompt: “Hello advisor, I have read this and this, what other important works/authors do you recommend for this topic”
- Use a citation organizer/generator – I highly recommend Zotero
- Stores pdf copies of articles, allows you to create categories and subcategories to organize collected research
- Links to Microsoft Word to automatically generates citations in the style guide you choose
- Identify where further research is needed in your field. I like to go to the discussion section of articles where authors will usually mention how the work they have done can be expanded.
Finally, you should be excited about your topic! I went through several ideas before I (finally) decided on my current dissertation topic. At the meeting with my advisor when I proposed the idea she said, “I can tell this is the one because you’re excited about it.” You will do so much with this project and have to explain it and reword it so many times (especially when applying for grants) that you should start out loving it.
Graduate school can be very overwhelming at times. Please do not neglect your physical, emotional, or mental well-being for this job. Your thesis or dissertation will not matter if you have to sacrifice everything in your life to finish it. Yes there are times when you will have to work longer hours and say no to friends. In general, however, please try to cultivate a well rounded life outside of school. This is very challenging I know, and something I still struggle with. And finally, if you are struggling, reach out to friends or people in your department you trust, and seek out mental health resources.