The breadth of majors at most universities far exceeds the subjects taught in high schools. This can make it difficult for students to choose a major at the beginning of their undergraduate career, since they may have never had the chance to get immersed with the subjects they think they wish to pursue. Pioneer Academics allows students to dive deep into a given research area, which often serves to clarify their academic interests. Pioneer scholars finish the research program well prepared to take on the challenges of university, including self-directed studies and choosing majors.
Nidhi (engineering, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from India, benefitted from Pioneer for this very reason. “One important motivation I had for taking the Pioneer research program was the timing, because that was a time when I was trying to decide what I wanted to study in college,” she explains. “By doing Pioneer, I wanted to get a hands-on experience of what that would be like. I had heard from some of my peers that the program gives you college experience because the Pioneer professors treat you like undergraduate students.” Nidhi did research in electronic engineering, which she decided to study at university.
Zehra (economics, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from Turkey, says that the Pioneer research program had a profound impact on her academic plans. “I was thinking of studying engineering [at university], but when I applied to Pioneer, I wanted to try out economics and see if I liked it or not. After Pioneer research, I realized that I really, really like economics and I want to learn more about it,” she explains. Upon conclusion of her Pioneer research, Zehra chose to teach herself AP economics and register for the exam on her own, and realized that she wanted to major in economics as a university student.
Jahin (political science, 2020), a Pioneer scholar from the United States, finished his research with a clearer picture of what he wanted to study in college. “When I was asked [in college admissions] why I wanted to major in economics and international relations, I talked extensively about my time at Pioneer and how it helped me understand what international development actually is, because it’s not a subject widely taught in schools,” he explains.
Isa (chemistry, 2020), a Pioneer scholar from the United States, says that Pioneer is a window into college life as well as a way to explore new academic topics. “I was really grateful to Pioneer for this opportunity, because I got to take a peek at what college life might look like for me, and how college-level chemistry is relevant to everyone’s daily life. I think this is important for everyone, because if they follow just one curriculum they might not know what they’re actually interested in when they go to college. Ever since I studied aquatic chemistry at Pioneer, I knew I had to take it in college as well,” she explains.
Pioneer Academics gives young scholars the chance to seriously explore areas of academic study that are not widely taught in high schools. By conducting research at an undergraduate level, Pioneer scholars hone their interests and enter university with more focused academic goals.