Why should you consider joining a research team? Consider these things…
#1: The longer a student participates in a research experience, the better their learning outcomes are! Also, the skills learned during a research experience map on to what employers are looking for!
#2: Many of you are planning to go to graduate school. I think that is a wonderful goal! I also think that many of you might be unaware of how important a solid research experience can be in terms of graduate admissions. Consider these quotes:
- “Applicants to graduate school in clinical and counseling psychology need research experience. Many students believe that applied experience working with people will help their application. They look for internships, practica and volunteer experiences. Unfortunately applied experience is useful only in small doses. Instead doctoral programs look for research experience and research experience trumps all other extracurricular activities” (https://www.thoughtco.com/applying-to-clinical-or-counseling-psychology-tips-1686405).
- “How important is research experience in getting admitted to graduate school? Very! Surveys of graduate admissions committees in psychology show that research experience ranks among the top three considerations in admissions decisions (along with letters of recommendation and GRE scores)” (https://psychandneuro.duke.edu/undergraduate/current/graduate-school-advice).
- Getting research experience does several things to boost your attractiveness to admissions committees, demonstrating that you (a) acquired knowledge and experience that will help you in graduate school, (b) are interested in research (which is an important part of most graduate training), and (c) had the motivation and initiative to become involved in out-of-class scholarly activities. Furthermore, letters of recommendation from faculty members with whom you worked on a research are an important source of information about your personality, conscientiousness, and work habits” (https://psychandneuro.duke.edu/undergraduate/current/graduate-school-advice).
#3: A student who serves as a research assistant, and particularly those who create their own projects, will earn outstanding letters of recommendation! “Letters of recommendation. Graduate programs usually ask for three letters of recommendation. These letters should be from faculty members who know you well; letters from faculty for whom you worked directly on research are particularly useful. Overall, letters from psychology faculty probably carry more weight than those from other departments. However, if you have worked closely with a faculty member in another department, don’t hesitate to get a letter from that professor. If you want to obtain a letter of recommendation from someone who is not a faculty member–a former employer or supervisor, for example–this should be in addition to the normal three letters” (https://psychandneuro.duke.edu/undergraduate/current/graduate-school-advice).
#4: Faculty members really do want to get to know you. Working together on a project is a great way to do that. Don’t be nervous about approaching us. Here’s why:
- This article has some great advice on what working with a faculty member is like and why faculty mentorship is important: https://www.uvu.edu/sculpt/docs/indispensibleguide_chpt4.pdf.
- There are some simple things you can do to prepare that will make the process more comfortable for you: https://www.uvu.edu/sculpt/resources-students/index.html.