Undergraduate Research is one of the most underused resources at Elon University. The school consistently encourages its students to participate as hundreds of thousands of dollars are poured into this category of undergrad research. Not only will this develop your knowledge of a subject you are interested in, but undergrad research is extremely unique and can be advertised in interviews and on your resume.
1. It’s Fun
Seriously, undergrad research is individualized, you get to choose what you are studying. On top of this, you get to choose your professor, and there are ‘cool’ professors around campus, you just have to find the right match. There is no structure to your research as the end goal could be a presentation, a paper, or a video. The guidelines are general and you can really take something you’re interested in and run with it.
2. The Experience / Practice
Academic work can be tedious in terms of literature reviews and perfecting an abstract, but these are necessary steps in many Junior and Senior classes taken at Elon. By actively participating in undergrad research, you are setting yourself up for success in future courses as your writing will be smoother, and it will be easier to put together tough papers and assignments. Along with receiving money for undergraduate research comes a mandatory SURF presentation. This presentation is not graded, but it is a compilation of your research efforts to that point. Once again, the practice in public speaking, and presenting more generally is extremely productive to ones college career.
3. School Credit
Undergraduate Research actually gives you credits. You can get one or two extra credits (or more in unique situations) per semester through a 499 for your undergraduate research. This requires meeting with your professor who the research is being done with 2-4 times a month. The grade is obviously given by your professor who grades you based on a list of agreed upon assignments and work ethic. Taking 4 classes at Elon is generally 16 credits, and there are 18 possible credit hours you can take/are technically paying for. Taking a 2 credit undergrad research 499 can be a solid GPA booster if you simply do the work, and will complete sections of your mandatory ELR.
As mentioned earlier, the undergraduate research department has hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they want to spend this money on as many students as they can. While you do need to have a real justification and a well worded proposal, money is often awarded for travel to other cities, states, or countries to attend events, conduct surveys, and gather information. Students have travelled internationally to Colombia, domestically to California, and have been flown across the states more generally to attend major research events. This is a great opportunity often overlooked by students as it comes at no $$ cost, but can be the experience of a lifetime.
5. Resume Builder
Undergrad Research is limited in the sense that a lot of people either don’t know about it, think it’s boring, or simply think it’s too much work. Having undergrad research allows you to stand out from the hundreds of other students applying to the same internships and jobs that you are. Having this on your resume is extremely unique, but what’s even more valuable is the ability to use your undergrad research to answer pretty much any question asked in an interview. Undergrad research can be related to time management, applying oneself, extra effort, ext. Lastly, undergrad research often leads to an incredible recommendation for either graduate school or for a job/internship.
Undergrad Research is a great way to be involved in highly acknowledged and rewarding academic work. The reality is that there are not too many people participating in this work, and if you get involved now, you are much more likely to be approved for monetary grants. This is one of the best ways to stand out in an ever-growing competitive job/internship market. The application is not that long, and all the benefits above greatly outweighs the amount of work needed. Find something you’re interested and run with it!