What activities do college admissions truly value? (Part 1: Independent Study/ Research)

What is An Independent Study?

An independent study, or a research project, is a project that you tackle outside the scope of your high school setting or coursework. These independent studies can be conducted alone, but they are best served with the help of a mentor, school teacher, professor, or university student. Oftentimes, these studies attempt to solve an academic question you cannot answer within the scope of your high school curriculum, and the topics of these studies are best when they relate directly to the major you hope to declare in college.

One of the most difficult parts of the independent study process is finding a specific topic or question you hope to tackle. This requires focused planning, and it can take time poring over textbooks, the news, online courses, and even past experiences in internships. But once you have a topic in mind, an independent study can be rewarding, valuable, stimulating, and fun. Of course, independent studies can give you a boost in the admissions process, too.

How Will College Admissions Committees See My Independent Study?

Independent studies are usually listed on your activities list or in your recommendation letters. Independent studies may appear as college credit in some cases, depending on whether you have conducted the research as part of a broader university-specific program. Oftentimes, students who perform well during these research projects will have the confidence of their research advisors. Thus, students can get recommendation letters from their advisors, which really impresses college admissions offices. In short, how would you feel if a professor was singing your praises about how you took the initiative to seek out unconventional and rigorous academic opportunities?

At their essence, independent studies prove to universities that you are not only interested in an academic subject but can conduct high-level research in the field. Moreover, independent studies, when overlaid well with your other activities, can boost your profile and give you a leg up on the competition.

What Are Some Examples of Independent Research?

  • “How can immigration affect the psychology of minorities?”
  • “How can computers see faces?”
  • “What is a viable go-to-market strategy for a ride sharing company in Singapore?”
  • “How did Chinese dynasties benefit from their trade with bordering countries?”

Main Takeaways:

All of these research projects, or independent studies, have one thing in common: they each show the student has a specific academic interest and is willing to challenge themselves to tackle it before heading off to college. If you can achieve this key element through an independent study, you will benefit greatly from how it boosts your profile, and you may also get better chances of admission due to a high-level recommendation. Research papers can sometimes be submitted as additional supplements when applying for schools, especially Ivy League Universities.

Students who have conducted college-level research will not only succeed in the admissions process, but they will be more prepared than their peers for the challenges that universities offer. When high schools often do not offer classes related to the academic questions you want to solve in college, and your peers are not conducting the same high-level research, seizing an opportunity for an independent study can be a win-win scenario.

Are You Considering an Independent Study?

There are many reasons students pursue independent study. Some students undertake an independent study when they discover personal interest outside of school while others use independent studies to pursue in-depth knowledge of a school subject.
At Pano, we provide four Masterclass for students for project based learning. Students can work on an independent project in a class of 8 to 10 students with the guidance of top university professors. We provide four classes with subjects focusing on science and technology, art design, computer science and international business. In a class of 8-10, students can work on topics they are interested in under the guidance of professors. You can  focus on research papers, design projects, or experiment research.

Find out more about Master class here:

2022 Summer Master Class-US Professor Academic Mentorship, exclusively at Pano


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