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How to Pursue Research in High School! Part 2!

Written By: Brianna Schulstad

Now that we know where to find professors on research projects, the most important part is how you ask them. Below is the email format I used to get a research position with a professor that researches at Montclair State University and Princeton University.

First line: the greeting. Make sure to greet all professors with the Dr. title.

First paragraph: Introduce yourself! Include where you go to school and what grade you are in. Talk about the times where you would be available to work and when. For example, 1pm - 5pm on weekdays during the summer.

Second paragraph: Write a short interest summary. Talk about why you are interested in their project. This cannot be a generic statement and it is worth it to do some research on the professor and their current project(s). This statement is what the professor pays attention to the most. Even if you don’t seem qualified, genuine interest is more important.

Third paragraph: Share information about yourself. Your test scores, grades, GPA, or any other relevant academic information should come first. After that, you should talk about your interests, hobbies, extra curricular activities, or anything that makes you unique.

Lastly, I put a final line saying my grades, resume, and transcript attached at the bottom and a kind "Thank you for your time," farewell.

Here are some tips and tricks to increase your chances of getting a research opportunity:

  • Put a subject line

    • Many high school students do not utilize the subject line. By doing so, you risk the email ending up in the spam folder.

  • Attach a resume and transcript

    • This verifies your grades and academic achievements.

  • Do not expand too much on your extracurricular activities

    • Many professors don’t care if you are in Model UN or the writer of your school newspaper. They are interested in you if you are involved but don’t care much for your duties and responsibilities within them. Only expand on extra curricular activities if they directly pertain to the research project. Besides this, no more than a sentence for each extracurricular. Also, do not list every single activity you do. For example, if you want to research infectious diseases, do not talk about how you love photography and drawing.

  • Keep an open mind

    • If one professor rejects you or does not respond, don’t worry! Keep emailing and keep a wide variety of interests in your mind. Reach out to professors who have even only slightly interesting projects. By doing so, you have a larger chance at getting a position and new learning opportunities.

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