3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Research opportunities

I need your advice on how to get research opportunities as a prospective English major. I am a rising senior. Please share your wisdom, because I am at a loss. Also, give me all the details, like how do you approach the professors, and what is a good way to ask them to take me, a high schooler, into their projects.


Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

2 answers

3 years ago

I'm so glad you asked this -- lots of people don't realize that research exists in the humanities!

Other responses are super thorough, so I won't rehash their points too much, but I do have a few things to add. First, it is certainly doable to get involved with research as a high schooler, but it can be difficult because a lot of universities try to protect these kinds of opportunities for their undergrads. If you're having trouble breaking into the field at a university, you may want to consider some projects that combine English with the social sciences, for example doing a project through your local library to see which books get checked out the most (and least), what kinds of resources are in demand, or how programming targeted at different age groups correlates with the types and/or levels of media get used.

With regard to the kind of research it seems as though you're asking after, I recommend taking a look at the faculty websites of colleges you're very interested in(more prestigious ones will often be more difficult to work with because they try to get undergrads into positions) or colleges in your area. See what kind of work they're doing, and read the published papers/research that they have on their websites to find something that interests you. Then, you can reach out and let them know that you are particularly drawn to the specific work they are doing. You may want to get your foot in the door with a smaller ask to lead off with, such as having a Zoom call to discuss their work and learn more about it.

Regardless of whether you take baby steps or just ask in your initial interactions, when you are trying to convince them to let you join their team, take the time to outline your connection to them and their work as well as any experience you have with that kind of work. For example, if they research plays, emphasize your experience writing a play/working with a dramaturg/directing plays. If they are looking at Latin American literature, highlight your background in speaking Spanish, your love of Hispanic literature, and your efforts to diversify your curriculum to include more world literature. If the university is local, mention that you live in the area and are really excited to engage with research for the benefit of the place where you live.

I hope this is helpful, and I wish you the best of luck in finding some work you're passionate about!

3 years ago

Most of what I discuss here is elaborated on this page, with variation for the purpose of high school sought research: https://dal.ca.libguides.com/English/ResearchSteps

I’m apart of the field of biomedical sciences, but I believe attaining research opportunities is the same across all fields. Firstly, you’ll want to find your “niche”, your topic, a subject that intrigues you within English research (idrk, but when I think of English research—I typically think of themes of novels, works with great impact, and texts that have a “call to action”). So from that, you’ll want to begin you basic background research to gain insight and knowledge on your chosen subject.

Once this basic information is understood (perhaps you already have something in mind), you can probably explore the web for articles related to, or already apart of, what you plan to do. Most often for English fields, I think their research is more individualized than within teams as for the sciences. Hence it may be a bit difficult for a high schooler to be involved. But I suggest using the source ‘ https://www.jstor.org/ ‘ as it is one of the largest research databases for published papers, primary sources, book reviews, etc.

Looking at the latest research articles from JSTOR and others, I think you can look-up authors and discover their institutions. And since you’ve already established that similar intrigue, you can request for research alongside them in their works via email.

ANOTHER way I believe this can be done is by going through a university’s faculty page or English department webpage to try and find available opportunities. ESPECIALLY to a university you may wish to attend (this shows interests and an active engagement in learning). Anyhow, you can usually find “help wanted/needed” there if you dig deep enough.

Hope this helps!! But you may find a better answer from someone else as I’m associated with a completely different field. The process may not be entirely the same

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works