How to Do Research With a Professor in High School

April 26, 2024
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Getting into college or university has become increasingly competitive. This article will break down how to do research with a professor in high school, which will make your application stand out from the rest.

When applying to post-secondary education it is important to have a wide range of extracurricular activities. For students who are looking to improve their chances of gaining acceptance, doing research with a professor while in high school can be very advantageous. 

Below we will outline why this is a good strategy for college applications and how to do research with a professor in high school. We will also cover how to email a professor about research and go over the best ways to include this experience in your application. By the time you finish this article, you will know everything you need to do research with a professor while in high school.

How to do research with a professor while in high school

Reasons to Do Research with a Professor in High School

When applying to college, you want to make sure you have a heads up on the competition. Though having a good academic record is very important when applying to college, participating in key extracurriculars is also very important. 

According to US News, it is very important to have extracurriculars that reflect what you might want to study at university. Experiences like conducting research with a professor will allow schools to see how dedicated you are to the subject. Doing research with a professor in high school will increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice.

Image outlining the reasons to do research with a professor

Doing research with a professor in high school also helps you narrow down a field of study. For example, if you know you want to study science, but aren’t sure how to narrow that down, spending a summer researching with a professor might give you a better idea if that specific topic is what you want to study.

This will mean that instead of applying for a general science degree along with the thousands of other students, you can be more specific on your application and cut down on the competition.

By doing research with a professor in High School you are able to form a strong candidacy for acceptance into the college of your choice.

Finding Research Opportunities

When looking at how to do research with a professor in High School, your first stop should be to your local college or university. Colleges will often advertise research opportunities on job boards and in libraries.

Image outlining some research opportunities for students

This is also a great place to start to network with different professors so that you have an easier time approaching them for the position. Some faculties will have special lectures that are open to the public which you would be able to attend and find out more about the professor.

This could open your mind up to more opportunities at your local college as you will be immersed in the environment. For example, while on campus, you might find out about special summer programs that are aimed at helping high school students learn about research and how to conduct a professional study.

If you are able to visit your local college campus more often, you might find a volunteer opportunity with a graduate student. Graduate students always need extra help with their research papers and by volunteering your time, you will learn valuable skills that can be added to your college application.

Local colleges are a great way to connect with faculties and find out how to do research with a professor in High School.

How to Email a Professor About Doing Research in High School

One of the best ways to gain a research position with a professor while in high school is by directly emailing them. This type of email is called a “cold email” as you may not know the professor who you are emailing. By doing cold emails, you have a higher likelihood of finding out how to do research with a professor in High School.

Image outlining tips on how to email a professor about doing research

The following are some pointers on how to email a professor about doing research in High School:

Make sure the email is personalized. Though you can have certain things in each email that are the same, make sure to address the professor you are sending the letter to. Also, mention something specific to them and why you would like to work with them.

Get someone to edit it. The last thing you need in a cold email is grammar or spelling mistakes. Make sure to use professional language so that the professor sees you as a viable candidate for research assistant.

Email as many professors as possible. Make sure to find a few professors to email so that you have a better chance of gaining a research position.

Make it short and sweet. Try not to go into too much detail and keep the letter less than a page. All you really need is to introduce yourself to the professor and tell them why you would like to work for them and what skills you have that will assist in the research.

By using the above advice, you will have a clear idea of how to email a professor about doing research in high school.

How to Tell Colleges About Your Research Experience

You want to be able to include your research experience within your college application, but there may not be an obvious place for this. The following are a few ways you can make sure your research experience is included in your applications:

How to tell colleges about your research experience

Include it in your extracurriculars. When you list your school activities in your application, make sure to include your research position. Though this is not a part of your high school, it is an extracurricular as it is something you are doing outside of school that is aiding in your academic development.

Write about it in one of the admission essays. If you need to write admission essays, try to include a bit about your research position and what you learned there.

Get the professor to write you a recommendation letter. This is one of the best ways to let schools know about your experience. They will be able to talk about your academic skills and your ability to take on college-level topics. 

By using the above advice, you can make sure that the valuable experience is counted towards your application to college, which can enhance your chances of gaining acceptance.

Final Thoughts

It is not easy to find out how to do research with a professor in high school, but it can be helpful to know for your college applications. Colleges look very favorably on extracurricular activities and by doing research with a college professor, you will definitely gain acceptance into the school of your choice.

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