At Pioneer, asking questions fuels curiosity and helps to build and strengthen mentorship relationships

Pioneer Academics > News > At Pioneer, asking questions fuels curiosity and helps to build and strengthen mentorship relationships

At Pioneer, asking questions fuels curiosity and helps to build and strengthen mentorship relationships

Ask questions

As a new Pioneer scholar conducting advanced research with a university professor, asking questions can be nerve-racking. It is hard to admit that you don’t understand something, and many students may fear looking foolish in front of faculty mentors or peers. This shouldn’t hold you back. Not only is it normal not to have all the answers, but learning to ask questions is essential for growth as a scholar. Pioneer scholars conquer the fear of asking questions and gain confidence to lean into curiosity. 

Pioneer scholar Jumana (computational quantum chemistry, 2019), from Bangladesh, advises incoming students to build strong relationships with faculty mentors by voicing  questions whenever they arise. “For those of you who are a bit like me and love asking questions, I would say don’t hold back because this is a great opportunity to clear your doubts and go outside your field,” she says. For students who are nervous about asking questions in person, Jumana suggests easing into it using the learning resources provided by Pioneer. “For students who are a bit more hesitant and shy, asking questions may be a bit difficult in the beginning. But in order to learn something, you don’t always need to ask the professor something directly. You can send your professor a message in [the course management system] and be assured that there will be a prompt response. Once you do that, perhaps you will feel more confident to ask questions directly during the meeting,” Jumana suggests.

Yining (philosophy, 2018; anthropology, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from China, suggests planning ahead to get the most out of conversations with professors. When contacting professors, he advises asking questions in advance to accommodate for the fact that professors may have busy schedules. When asking questions in class, he says, “you can sort of rehearse the questions in your mind before asking them.” However, there is no reason to overthink it––faculty mentors are there to help, and more than willing to take the time and effort to understand students’ questions. 

Journey (neuroscience, 2019), from the United States, says that her experience as a Pioneer scholar boosted her confidence interacting with professors and helped with the transition from high school to college. To ask questions, Journey says she had to get over “the feeling of having an insufficient amount of knowledge to approach a professor.” She says that Pioneer helped her overcome this fear because her faculty mentor was approachable and interested in her research. Journey has  carried this confidence with her to her university studies. She explains, “[Interactions with my Pioneer faculty mentor] made me realize that other professors are most likely that way as well, they want you to ask them questions. They want you to approach them and say hey, this is what I’m interested in.” 

Asking questions fuels your curiosity as a scholar and helps to build and strengthen mentorship relationships. While it may be scary at first, Pioneer scholars testify to the fact that it is worth stepping out of your comfort zone  to ask professors questions, whether in cohort meetings, one-on-one sessions, or even in writing. Pioneer Academics provides a supportive environment to build confidence interacting with professors that you will carry with you for the rest of your academic career.

Dear educator friend,

In the critical process of preparing students to transition to college, you are key. The
ramifications of your guidance are far-reaching.

The Pioneer Research Program believes that it, too, has a role to play in preparing students of special potential and passion for learning. This is a role we trust you will appreciate knowing about. Our mission is to offer a deep and otherwise unavailable opportunity to exceptionally motivated young scholars who want to learn and research at the college level and to explore their potential for innovation.

What makes Pioneer a unique deep-dive learning experience is not just the mentorship of distinguished professors. It is the rigorous quality controls developed conjointly by Pioneer and Oberlin College. Professors (must) adhere to rubrics for

1) setting learning goals;

2) syllabus development;

3) oversight, feedback and evaluation, and

4) grading standardization.

This rigorous academic system is supported by thorough admission process and a high-minded ethics code. The combination gives students an exceptional learning experience that is brought to fruition in a college-level research paper documenting their findings.

You can follow this link Pioneer’s concrete academic system to learn more about the academic system. Academic quality control and academic oversight assure Pioneer’s focus is on learning and learners, and therefore all of our practices were built upon the following principles:

No conflict of interests Pioneer’s academic ethical standards
Because of its high academic and ethical standards, the Pioneer program has earned the trust of college admissions departments and formed the basis for the ground-breaking collaboration with Oberlin College. Pioneer scholars get two college credits upon completing their Pioneer research.

Click to learn about Pioneer and Oberlin College's groundbreaking academic collaboration.

Pioneer has a rigorous admission process. Students who have genuine academic interests and are highly motivated are a good fit with Pioneer’s values. Pioneer’s founding board insisted that Pioneer commit to a professor-blind policy during the application process, ensuring that applicants have authentic field interest and correct priorities. Consequently, no information about professors is released before admission to the program. This policy is much appreciated and respected by universities. Professor-blind admission policy
On this page is the critical information needed to meet your needs.

If you have additional questions, feel free to let us know how we can help you by emailing or calling 855-572-8863.


Matthew Jaskol

Founder & Program Director