Did you know that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were around 19.4 million students who attended universities and colleges in the U.S. during the fall of 2020?
But among the millions of college students, everyone is pursuing various goals, dreams, and career opportunities. So knowing how to best prepare yourself based on your interests, while also showcasing your academic aptitude to potential colleges is a unique challenge.
In addition to your academic coursework, there are many other extracurricular activities that can help develop various skill sets, including research.
So this has many high school students wondering: Is research really necessary?
The real answer is not a black-and-white one. Pioneer believes that there are no specific types of activities that are “necessary”. To pursue research or not should start from your interests and your inspiration.
Among the types of research a high school student can pursue, it is key to evaluate why some students like to conduct research, understand the nature of such research projects, the pros and cons, and the differences among the variety of opportunities available.
Why Some High School Students Consider Conducting Research
If you’re deciding whether doing research while in high school is the right choice, it can help to understand why some students consider individual research projects. In large part, this comes down to the benefits that they may experience and the skills they gain.
You Like to Do Research
This is one of the top reasons why students in high school consider online research. You may already be a researcher, or have a natural curiosity for exploring answers to questions, so participating in online research can be a good choice.
You should not calculate the value of putting “research projects” or “getting published” on your resume. Instead, you should ask yourself what excites you most, what inspires you, and what level of challenges you are determined to take.
In this context, if you are excited about going deep academically, get inspired by intensive reading, in-depth analyzing, and finding your own perspective. You then should look at research opportunities for high school students.
Problem Identifying and Solving Skills
The purpose of pursuing research opportunities for high school students is not necessarily to be majored in that research direction. It is the researcher mentality and research method that prepares a student to be a critical thinker who is able to identify problem patterns and produce intellectual discoveries. With these skills, regardless if you become a professional researcher or not in any field, you will be a successful contributor.
Early Career Exposure
The third benefit for high school students doing online research is the chance to get early career exposure. For one thing, you’ll learn more about a subject that interests you. This will help you figure out early whether that’s the area you’d like to continue studying.
On the other hand, if completing research solidifies your interest in a particular field, when you’re completing college applications you will be able to personally speak of your experience and interest in a particular major.
Additionally, if you’ve been thinking of pursuing a career that’s research-heavy, this is a great way to learn early on by completing hands-on research on whether this type of work is an ideal fit for you.
Again, it’s not just about scientific fields. Certain non-scientific jobs that are research-heavy include journalism, history, and numerous academic positions.
In summary, completing research projects while in high school can help you sense your career path early on, or at least what type of work to avoid. Either way, you walk away learning valuable skills.
Development of Necessary Career, Educational, And Life Skills
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers seek to have candidates with specific skills. These skills include being detail-oriented, problem-solving, and working on a team. They also touch on the importance of written and verbal communication skills, quantitative skills, and analytical skills. These are qualities that will always be important no matter where you go in your career, education, and life.
Factors To Consider When Browsing Online Research Programs
When you’re looking for online research programs, there are certain factors to consider. The primary one is thinking about what academic subjects interest you and then determining what kind of opportunities would be the best fit based on those interests.
Think About Your Interests, But Still Be Open
When browsing online opportunities, the first thing to consider is your interests. Are you interested in learning more about something scientific? Or is there a news item or world event that you want to explore?
Put together a list of your interests, but also keep an open mind. Having a list of possibilities is a great way to start your search, but perhaps there is a field or area you haven’t considered yet.
Having a general idea of what interests you will help with the next step in the process, which is exploring the three main types of online research for high school students: interning with professors at research labs, attending pre-college programs, or participating in online mentorship-based opportunities.
Internships at Research Labs
As we shared, working on research can be a great way to make connections. So why not make connections with leading scientists who specialize in your research area during an internship program? They can help you with your project, perhaps have you work on existing research projects, mentor you, and be a good resource for new information.
The faculty member who runs the research lab is known as the primary investigator (PI). They are the ones responsible for hiring team members, graduate students, undergraduate students, and interns.
If you want to explore an internship program at a research lab, it requires reaching out to the PI and seeing if any opportunities are available. You’ll have to make your case for why you would be an ideal contributor to the team and why their lab in particular interests you.
If you don’t have a ton of experience in research yet, that’s OK. You can read papers previously written by the PI to help showcase you are already familiar with their work.
Consider Academic Pre-College Programs
There are academic pre-college programs hosted by universities during the summer that can help you conduct research outside of the high school classroom.
While in high school, you can sign up both to complete research and attend classes so you have a better understanding of what it means to be a college student. These programs can be online, in-person, or a hybrid of both and are open to both U.S. and international students.
Online Mentorship-Based Programs
Lastly, the number of online research opportunities grew tremendously around the start of the pandemic.
Choosing opportunities in this new and unregulated space is a hard job, especially when it is about doing research. When it comes to research opportunities for high school students, we recommend that you research thoroughly!
In this category, the Pioneer Research Program is the only fully-accredited online research program for high school students. Founded in 2012, Pioneer is the only program of its kind that has established records in selectivity and academics.
Pioneer Academics is an online research institute that carefully selects high-achieving students attending high school to strengthen research skills and develop original research papers that meet Pioneer’s high standards.
Selected students not only work directly with professors handpicked by Pioneer on an undergraduate-level research project but they also are surrounded by Pioneer’s institutional research resources that help them learn research skills. By the end of the program, students submit a full-length academic paper about their findings and earn college credit for their work.
A research project with Pioneer can be a spring or summer program that provides a challenging academic experience while still maintaining the flexibility of staying at home or keeping that part-time job.
What To Look For In An Academic Program
If you’re going to complete your research opportunity through a pre-college or mentorship-based program, there are certain things you should look for. These include a variety of research disciplines, the offering of college credit, and the integrity of academic oversight.
A Variety Of Research Opportunities
When researching academic programs, search for one that has a variety of opportunities available. These would include a large range of academic areas, including those in the humanities, natural sciences, biomedical research, and STEM disciplines such as computer science and technology research.
At Pioneer Academics, we’ll ask you to include up to four research areas of interest
in your application. We’ll also want to learn more about what you’re interested in researching and why. This helps our expert team accurately match students to both their interests and the area where they will have the most potential.
Offering College Credit
Completing an online research opportunity through an online academic program is already hard work. So why not get college credit for it?
Pioneer Academics is the only accredited, fully online research program in the world that awards college credits to high school students for their completed research.
Plus, this college credit you earn may transfer to the university or college you plan to attend.
Academic Oversight of Your Research Project
Of course, you don’t want to attend an online program that simply offers a research opportunity without any academic oversight. If you’re going to invest time and money into gaining research experience, you want to make sure the program is accredited and truly offers a university-level research experience.
For this reason, you should look for one that shows how they implement academic oversight. This can include their philosophy when it comes to research, how they select their faculty, and their evaluation process for work students submit.
Reasons Why Research May Not Be A Good Fit
Of course, online research might not be a good fit for you. If you prefer to do more activities in person and would rather not spend time online, this may not be the best fit for you.
While an online program such as Pioneer still offers a strong peer interaction component, you may just learn better in an in-person environment.
Finally, if you already have a plate that’s full of many extracurricular activities, it might not be the best time for you to start working on a research project.
Research Opportunities with Pioneer Academics
Now that you’ve learned all you need to know about online research opportunities, you might be interested in completing one through an online academic program.
At Pioneer Academics, we offer a variety of research opportunities, including summer research terms. Plus, we are also the only program online where students receive college credits after successfully completing their research.
To learn more about Pioneer Academics, register for an online info session today!