If you haven’t thought about doing undergraduate research, here are 10 reasons you should be.
First, let’s discuss everything you think you know about research. Some common misconceptions about it are: It’s a thing only science majors do, researchers spend all their time in a lab, it’s really hard or it’s a waste of time with no real-life application uses.
“To us, undergraduate research is an educational experience in which a student collaborates with a faculty mentor,” explains Melissa Knapp, Augusta University Center for Undergraduate Research Coordinator. “Together, they strive to answer an open-ended question or make a creative contribution to their chosen discipline.”
Yes, research can be done in a laboratory, but it can also take place in the field or even in an art studio.
Did we change your mind about research? If it’s never occurred to you that you should be doing undergraduate research, we’ve got 10 reasons why you should start thinking about it:
1. Career exploration. The whole point of college is to get the degree that will land you the dream job, right? Use undergraduate research to connect with your future career as a student. You’ll have the opportunity to study and work alongside current professionals and experts. Most students use research to confirm their interests and sometimes explore new interests they’ve never considered before.
2. Foundation for graduate studies. Undergraduate research prepares students for the experiences, tactics and work methods that they would typically experience in graduate school. Understanding the expectations of graduate school before you enter it is a great advantage.
3. Mentorship. Networking with faculty members on research is a great way to build relationships with professionals who can turn into advocates for you. These individuals will be able to write high-quality letters of recommendation, introduce you to other professionals, vouch for your work and even become life-long friends.
4. Meet new students and faculty members. In some programs, don’t be surprised to see the same classmates semester after semester. But if you’re interested in using college to meet new people outside of your usual circles, Undergraduate research provides opportunities to bring students from multiple disciplines together.
5. Learning by doing. Research allows you to take what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world problems and environments. You’ll have the advantage of understanding how to apply your knowledge before you even enter the workforce. All while earning academic credit.
6. Skill building. Transferable skills are abilities that can be used in a variety of occupations and life-experiences, but they’re not always obvious in the classroom. They include skills like leadership, time management and critical thinking. While you may not sit through a lecture on time management in the classroom, undergraduate research allows you to hone these skills. Tip within a tip: transferable skills are great resume enhancers.
7. Interview preparation. Undergraduate research provides unique experiences and engagements that can be referenced in graduate school application essays or job interviews. Students will be able to discuss their experiences and set themselves apart from the rest of the application pool.
8. Academic achievement. Students often see an increase in their GPA and are more likely to complete their degree on time.
9. Publishing opportunities. With research, you’ll be able to explore areas and topics in real time through original methods. This will give you the chance to submit your work for professional publication!
10. It’s fun!
“Undergraduate research opportunities help students of all majors explore research in an area that is interesting to them and supports their intended career goals,” Melissa says. “The research experience is different for each student.”
Learn more about the Augusta University Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at augusta.edu/curs