Applying for Undergraduate Research at Dartmouth!
Dartmouth is well known for offering its students the opportunity to engage in meaningful undergraduate research. As we've just made it through another season of research applications, I thought I'd share my experience with finding research opportunities as an undergraduate. (Please note that this post is based purely on my own experience and is in no way extensive!)
A great starting place is Dartmouth Undergraduate Advising and Research, the link to which can be found here: https://students.dartmouth.edu/ugar/
Dartmouth Undergraduate Advising and Research (UGAR) offers research funding for projects mentored by Dartmouth faculty from Dartmouth College, Geisel, Thayer, and Tuck. UGAR programs are incredibly extensive, ranging from Undergraduate Research Assistantships (URAD) to the James O. Freedman Presidential Scholars program, Honors Thesis Grants, Stamps Scholars program, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships, E.E. Just Program, and more, information about all of which can be found here!
For this post, due to my own limited experience, I'm focusing on my experience applying for a UGAR leave term grant. The Dartmouth D-Plan requires students to take three leave terms over the course of their Dartmouth experience. This flexible structure allows undergraduates to personalize their college experience by framing their time on and away from campus. I was incredibly interested in completing research with a Dartmouth professor during my upcoming off-term. Happily, I've had the opportunity to interview several incredible students and professors about undergraduate research projects over the last couple of years, an experience which inspired me to apply. I'd also heard glowing reviews from my friends who have engaged in part- and full-time undergraduate research. And, as it turns out, approximately sixty percent of Dartmouth students engage in independent study with faculty mentors.
My first step was to reference Dartmouth's online database of faculty-led research projects. Reserved for use by current Dartmouth undergraduates, this site is incredibly helpful for students seeking to work on faculty-led research projects. As an English major, I was thrilled to find an opportunity in our department with a professor with whom I had studied before and would be eager to learn from in a research capacity.
I was very fortunate to find a research project that matched my interests so closely. That said, not all faculty projects are guaranteed to be listed in the database, and students are encouraged to reach out to faculty with whom they have taken a class to see if they have any current projects for which they are seeking undergraduate assistance. In my case, I could think of several professors whom I would be excited to work with in a research capacity. Even though their names weren't listed on the database, I knew a bit about the work they were doing due to the courses I'd taken with them—enough to know I wanted to learn more!
In my experience, Dartmouth professors welcome curiosity. The professors I reached out to were more than obliging in taking the time to respond, whether or not they had any active research positions. I believe it's important to keep in mind that, while replies are far from guaranteed when applying to internships and jobs, Dartmouth truly tries to support the endeavors of its students during their undergraduate years. As a result, almost every research query I sent received a response. This spoke to the commitment of Dartmouth professors to helping their students find interesting and meaningful work.
Ultimately, I found a leave term position in the English department with the professors who were kind enough to answer my interest emails, and I couldn't be more excited! The process of applying for a research position and undergraduate research stipend is detailed and requires time and effort, but in my experience, it's well worth it, and I'm so excited to get to work.