Research breaks down the divisions between students and teachers, and among academic disciplines. Research allows students to take advantage of Penn’s strength as a major research institution. Even as the junior member of a large team, a student researcher is included in discussions and recognized for making contributions. Penn undergraduates engaged in research are often co-authors, and sometimes primary authors, of academic papers. They present their work at conferences and poster sessions.
Most importantly, because student researchers are working closely with members of the standing faculty, they have ongoing opportunities for regular advising and mentoring. These relationships lead to exciting academic opportunities. Student researchers come to know what they want to study and why they want to study it. Higher education research has shown that the excitement of conducting research often enhances a student’s classroom performance.
Student researchers also secure the connections needed to guide them to the most appropriate graduate programs for their field of study, and they’ll have the proper credentials and recommendations to be admitted. Whether a student immediately pursues graduate study or enters the non-academic workforce, research provides an in-depth experience that distinguishes a student from other applicants. A researcher becomes an expert who develops thorough knowledge of her field and becomes a leading authority on a specific topic.