It’s fun!! Discovery is exciting, whether it involves laboratory or field studies, or the development of new ceramic glazing techniques or durable and comfortable furniture designs. Mentored research allows you to work with nationally and internationally recognized scholars and professionals whether here at NC State or beyond at other campuses, state or federal agencies, or in industry. The experience is what graduate and professional schools, and employers seek in applicants. They ask, “Is the applicant a textbook scholar, unable to think outside a classroom, or someone who has brought the knowledge from their many courses to fruition into a workplace where synthesis and discovery take place?”
Many faculty note that they became interested in seeking advanced study because of the exciting experiences they had as undergraduate researchers working with faculty mentors. The mentor/student relationship often continues for a lifetime with the development of a lasting friendship including professional ties in the discipline.
Research is a way of learning, confirming and retaining what you have learned in the classroom. The motivational experience can take an English major with a 2.5 GPA and convert her into a creative writer with a 3.6 GPA. Undergraduate research endeavors not only reduce institutional drop out rates, they increase the number of graduates eager to pursue advanced degrees.
Imagine two biology majors, each about to graduate with a 3.5 GPA and the same array of completed courses. One student decides to spend two semesters engaged in undergraduate research with a final paper and poster presentation at the NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium. The other student elects to take two additional courses in her major. Who do you think will have the best chance at a challenging position or at admission to graduate or professional school?
Key Advice: (1) Get started in undergraduate research as early in your college career as possible. (2) Make that happen by taking the initiative to uncover your interest areas and to seek out the professionals on- or off-campus who are doing that work. Use this web site to help you find a mentor. (3) Understand that your scholarly work can receive college credit either as Special Problems, Independent Study, Free Elective, or Honors Research in your department. Talk with the undergraduate coordinator (administrator) of your department.