At Kyo Standard, we see students with varying resumes. Some are high performing athletes (D1 candidates), some are world class musicians (World renown violin prodigy), and some are multinational philanthropists. Lately, parents have been asking us about how to make their student more competitive in the post covid world. A world where SAT scores matter less and extra curriculars matter more. Most students have the same amount and kind of EC activities. Math club, academic decathlon, volunteering at a hospital, and fundraising for group projects. These are all impressive, but these activities are well… common. Ask your friends. If you were to compare the resumes of your student and a classmate would you be able to tell who is who?

Probably not.

So how do we stand out? Do more? Take more classes?

How about research.

Having research experience conveys to colleges that your student enjoys asking questions and are willing to explore new things.

The question is how to begin?

Sure, most research opportunities are designed for students at the college level, but there are summer programs, labs, and organizations that have space for high schoolers.

Let’s dive into it.

What is Research?

The term “research” refers to work done to discover new facts and draw a conclusion. Research doesn’t always involve lab coats and tests tubes. (One of our students participated in an archeological dig in China.) As you start to look for research opportunities, focus on topics that interest you.

Don’t participate in research for the sake of appearing as an impressive applicant. Research requires a significant amount of time, you need to consider your commitment to studying the subject. The purpose here is to learn!

Different Ways you can Gain Research Experience

There are programs created to help high schoolers gain research experience. Be warn, most of them do fall within STEM. These are generally summer programs at research institutes hosted by large universities.

If you want to conduct research in the humanities, you would have to go out of your way to reach out to various institutions about supporting your work. It sounds like a lot, but narrow your topic and you’ll have an easier time finding someone whose studies align with your interest.

In most cases, you will need a mentor or supervisor, and for research in the STEM fields, a lab. You’ll also ultimately want to establish a method of presenting the data or your findings. For a pre-existing research lab or center, these opportunities should be easier to pinpoint. If you’re embarking on your own research adventure, you’ll need a proposal that outlines the question/topic, what the scope of your research will be, and if applicable, a mentor you have in mind who wants to take you up on your offer.

In case you’re wondering whether you should gain experience through a summer program, pre-existing lab/institution, or research proposal, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them.

Summer Programs

Many universities, foundations, and labs have established summer program options that allow high school students to conduct research. These programs are often very competitive. For most of these, you’ll have to write essays elaborating on your focus, as well as career aspirations. The programs will evaluate whether you’re a strong fit and determine which faculty member you could pair up with if accepted. The following list includes some top-notch summer programs and research institutes that allow students to explore their interests with more depth:

Aspirnaut Summer Research Internships for High School Students
Boston University- Research in Science and Engineering (RISE)
Children’s Hospital Colorado Child Health Research Internship
Garcia Scholars -Stony Brook University
Maine Space Grant Consortium Research Internships for Teachers and Students (MERITS)
Magee Women’s Research Institute High School Summer Internship Program
National Institutes of Health- Summer Internship in Biomedical Research (SIP)
Naval Research Laboratory Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program
Research Science Institute
Simons Summer Research Program

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)

University of California-Santa Barbara Research Mentorship Program
University of Chicago Research in the Biological Sciences (RIBS)

As you can see, the summer programs which encourage high school student research are heavily concentrated within STEM. While there are plenty of top summer programs geared towards students interested in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, most don’t specifically support student research. The Concord Review History Camp is an example of a summer experience where you can partake in research workshops and write an extensive paper at the end. So, if you’re a prospective economics, literature, or film major, you may have to branch out a little further.


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