Are you trying to decide whether to get involved with research?
When I was a sophomore, research scared the heck out of me. I saw it as a massive undertaking that would be confusing and overwhelming. Luckily, my college had an event where undergrads from various majors met with faculty who were open to do research. It was here that I got started on a three semester endeavor.
This experience taught me many things, but my main advice is this: if you are interested in or debating on doing research, then do it. Let’s talk about why.
1) It will help you pick a grad school / career path
Let’s say that you have decided to become an SLP or AUD. You are confident on going to grad school and getting your CCC’s. Maybe you are interested in pediatrics. Or maybe the neurological side of the field intrigues you. Whatever it may be, research may be another avenue for your interests. The only way to know is to try it out.
When I started research two years ago, I was leaning towards working with older adults. However, my advisor was running a project that focused on child language acquisition, and I wanted to join her. Turns out that I love working with kids. Furthermore, the research involved many hours of sifting through articles and plugging in data points. I found this process to be a bit too mundane for my liking.
The experience taught me that I should focus on the clinical side of speech-language pathology. Therefore, I have been able to narrow out a significant amount of graduate schools that are research focused.
If you do research, you may come to the same conclusion. On the other hand, you may also find that the opposite is true. Maybe research is right up your alley! In this case, you will likely want to apply to research schools. These will allow you to do a master’s thesis and they may even have a doctoral program that you can later apply to for your Ph.D.
2) You'll build relationships with professors
Typically, sitting through a professor’s lecture does not allow you to to build much of a relationship with them. You may get to know them, but they won’t get to know you unless you are constantly raising your hand or going to their office hours. Want to get to know your professor and what their interests are? Ask about volunteering or fully participating in research with them!
This experience allows for continuous meetings with your professor. They will mentor you in the process of research, and you will likely spend a solid amount of time just chatting, as well. Maybe your experience will even be like mine where they invite you over for dinner.
Your professor will also be able to see your skills, which is great if you ask them for a letter of recommendation later on. Additionally, you will likely get to know other professors in the department by means of proximity and related tasks. Regardless, having this type of relationship is very important and advantageous for all parties involved.
3) You'll have better knowledge of the field
Sure, a typical class is meant to advance your knowledge of the field. However, research allows you to interact with the material.
When you begin doing research, you will spend a copious amount of time reading other people’s research. This process of reviewing the current literature will help you gain loads of theoretical and/or applied information on the subject at hand. You’ll have to synthesize this information in order to provide a valid background for your paper and discussion. Ideally, this subject is something that largely interests you, because you chose to work on this project rather than other ones (with other professors).
4) You'll gain resume worthy skills
It’s no surprise that research is one of the best items to have on your resume, especially if you are applying to a research-focused graduate program. Research teaches a plethora of skills, such as the abilities to analyze arguments, complete technical writing, work as a team, communicate with participants, and present your ideas.
5) You can get paid for it
That’s right! Many institutions love to offer scholarships or stipends to students who are involved with research. After all, research looks impressive for the university. Every institution has different requirements and slots, so ask around early. Speaking of money, the university may also pay for you to travel to conferences that you present at. It’s a good deal.