Three Ways to Get Research Experience in High School

By Lindsey Conger

Colleges have increasingly gotten more competitive: the applicant pools at Harvard University, Columbia University, and Dartmouth University increased by more than 30 percent for the Class of 2025. Therefore, having a strong resume that stands out is crucial for students applying to highly selective colleges or direct medical (BS/MD) programs. One way to do so is by gaining hands-on research experience. Here are three paths for high schoolers to achieve that.

High School Research Pathways

Students should first look at what their high school offers; some schools have a research class like the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone program, which consists of two courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. Students will be mentored on completing research, writing a thesis paper, and making a presentation.

If this AP course isn't available to students, they can also participate in science fairs or ask a high school teacher to guide them through an independent research project.

Research with A College Professor

Students might want to work with an experienced mentor like a college professor who can lead them through the research process, connect the student with resources, and help analyze data.

To find a college professor willing to assist, students can reach out to faculty members who have similar research interests. In the email, they should include a resume to help the professor know them better and their interests.

Not all professors have time and space for a high school student to come into their lab to learn. Students should be prepared to email multiple faculty members and follow up to secure a position. Being flexible and willing to do whatever it takes in the lab can also help high schoolers gain hands-on research experience.

Attend A Research Program

For students who prefer more structure, attending a STEM research camp can be a great way to get hands-on experience. Even better, students can sometimes earn college credit through a research program.

One example is Rising Researchers, a virtual research program that lets students get hands-on experiences while earning two college credits. Students are mailed a microscope and lab kit so they can complete their own research at home. During the 4-week course, students learn how to conduct research on microbiology from a leading scientist at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.

Take Research to The Next Level with A Passion Project

After completing their research, students should always consider how they can take their accomplishments to the next level. For example, if they have written a research paper, they might target getting it published in a high school research journal. Or, they might choose to publish a book or guide on Kindle about their research. Another option is to run an informational campaign on social media or start a podcast to spread awareness about their research.

By completing research while still in high school, students can distinguish themselves from other candidates and secure a spot at the most competitive universities.

More reading:

Cbsnews.com/news/covid-pandemic-ivy-league-acceptance-rate-low
Risingresearchers.com

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Lindsey Conger is a College Counselor and tutor at Moon Prep. She helps students create memorable personal statements and tutors students to increase their academic profile to universities. www.moonprep.com