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a Dartmouth student and professor discussing while seated at a table

The Presidential Scholars Program is a program run by Dartmouth's Undergraduate Research and Advising office (UGAR) that was established in 1988 to provide opportunities for students to experience research first-hand by working with Dartmouth faculty in part-time research assistantships. 

Students typically apply to the Presidential Scholars program towards the end of their sophomore year after finding a faculty mentor who is willing to work with them on a project. Projects may be a mostly individual effort from the student with the guidance and advice of the faculty member, or may include the student assisting the faculty member on an already existing project that they are working on.

Finding a faculty mentor is also a lot easier than one would imagine! Many Dartmouth professors enjoy working with undergraduates; UGAR maintains an online database in which professors who are interested in engaging with students in research can post their projects on. I found my faculty mentor through the Dartmouth Economic Research Scholars program which provides additional mentoring and support to students interested in economics research.

One thing about the Presidential Scholars program I have enjoyed is its accessibility and flexibility. A lot of part-time work opportunities through research or internships available to undergraduates students are sometimes unpaid. This makes these opportunities inaccessible to students who can not financially afford to sacrifice their time on unpaid internships and research assistantships.

The Presidential Scholars program however provides a stipend of $1,200 per term to all participants. With that being said, the program may also grant a course credit in place of a stipend. This can be helpful and relevant when the research project is especially related to a niche you may be exploring within your major. It can also come in handy if you need an extra credit to complete a major, minor or degree requirement. Lastly, although it is a two-term program that has to be completed within your junior year, UGAR is quite flexible with this requirement; I originally planned to do the Presidential Scholars program during sophomore summer and junior winter and changed the second term to junior spring at the last minute.

To complete my Presidential Scholars program this term, I am working on an informational brief regarding a recent climate change mitigation policy initiated by the European Union and delving into the specifics guidelines and timeline of this policy. Although I only started working on it a few days ago, it is already fascinating how collaborative research efforts from several people on different levels come together on a single project that has real-world implications.

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