Why Conducting Research as an Undergrad Is so Rewarding

When I was accepted into Millersville University's Honors College, I was excited. In addition to getting to put Honors College on my resume, I would get more challenging classes and early class registration. Despite these benefits, there was one part of the Honors College that scared me; all Honors College Students are required to write a thesis. A ten-page class paper stresses me out, so the idea of writing a research paper that could be anywhere from thirty to one hundred pages terrified me. Despite my initial fear, I've come to love conducting research for my thesis. Here are some of the reasons I've found the experience so rewarding.

  1. 1. You Can Research What Really Interests You

    the "future is female" sign

    One of the best parts of conducting individual research is that you can choose what topic you research! Since I am interested in public policy, history, and women's rights, I decided to conduct my research on the Equal Rights Amendment. Choosing my own research topic has made the research much more interesting. This has been way better than any research paper I've done for a class because I got to research the stuff that interests me.  

  2. 2. You Build Relationships with Professors

    When conducting individual research, you have a professor to advise you along the way. This can be any professor you choose, though it should be someone who is educated on your topic and you feel comfortable talking to. In my Spring semester of my Sophomore year, I had Dr. Nivedita Bagchi as a Political Theory professor. I loved having her as a professor, and since my topic is political, I decided to ask her to be my thesis advisor. Working with Dr. Bagchi has been great. Throughout the research process, she has given me invaluable advice on how to research. Don't be afraid to ask your professors for help - they have experience researching in the field.

  3. 3. You Get a New Sense of Independence

    Conducting my own research has been crazy. Doing professional research has made me feel like an adult and an academic. I get to choose what my research looks like, and I get to work at my own pace. It's a new sense of independence that I've never had with any other paper or project. It has helped me show myself that I am a real part of this field, and I have something to contribute.

  4. 4. It Looks Great on a Resume

    One of the largest benefits of conducting research as an undergraduate is that it makes your resume stand out. It is pretty rare for an undergraduate student to perform their own research, especially in the social science fields like my field of Political Science. Being able to say that you conducted a large independent research project when you were only an undergraduate will make you stand out to employers and graduate schools.

  5. 5. You Can Publish Your Work

    Something that both excites me and terrifies me about my thesis is that once it is finished, I can get it published. It is crazy to think that I could have my research published in an academic journal. Having published research will give you something to show future employers to prove your skills.

I hope that I have convinced you into considering conducting your own research as an undergrad. It may seem frightening at first, but I promise it is a truly rewarding experience.


HCXO, Riley