Interested in gaining some technical research experience? Research opportunities for teens in lab settings are sparse, so consider RSI. This program is a prestigious, free summer program in partnership with MIT, with only 80 coveted seats. Students are admitted purely on potential and achievement, not according to who they know. Students take courses in STEM fields, engage in intensive research, and prepare a conference-style presentation on their findings. If you’re not admitted, don’t be heartbroken. There are plenty of ways to independently gain similar experience this summer.
RSI (Research Science Institute) is a free rigorous and prestigious science theory and research camp that is free to 70-80 admitted rising seniors. The 5-week program at RSI takes students through a research cycle of learning to read peer-reviewed publications, writing a detailed research plan, then crafting an oral and written report: conference- style.
Check the program’s website for the most up-to-date deadlines for applications.
They typically admit 30 international students.
What to expect week by week
RSI hosts students at MIT. Expect to explore on-campus scientific theory, combined with off-campus trips to relevant science and tech applications.
- Week 1: Students participate in week-long intensive STEM classes with top professors. You’ll be asked to read a humanities book to emphasize cross-industry collaboration and communication.
- Weeks 2-6: Research internship. Conduct individual projects under experienced MIT mentors: scientists, alumni, and researchers. Guest speakers include Nobel Prize winners, and industry professionals.
- Week 7: Students prepare written and oral presentations on their research projects- awesome preparation for presenting at future academic conferences!
Prestige, if you please
RSI offers super strong payoff in the college admissions process for STEM field college-bound applicants. The program has quality name recognition among admissions officers, with the added bonus of merit-based admission into the program without any cost. The covered cost of the program rules out the question of privileged financial accessibility, highlighting just merit. Refreshing, eh?
Who gets into RSI?
On average, 1600 students apply to the camp, and 80 are selected. Admission is solely based on academics and accomplishments. No one is favored because their parent or sister or cousin attended –usually referred to as a legacy admissions privilege–, or knowing someone who is associated with the staff. It’s just you and your credentials: a high GPA, demonstrated leadership, rigorous coursework, and a promising PSAT or SAT or ACT score.
Some notable RSI alumni include Feng Zhang, inventor of CRISPR gene editing, the founder of Pinterest, the second female math tenured professor at Harvard, Dr. Lauren K. Williams, now teaching at Berkeley.
How do I write an RSI essay?
In your essays, explain the central mission that drives you and your goal-orientation. Demonstrate how you make the most of the resources available to you to drive a passionate purpose you’ve carved out for yourself. The admissions officers know that a student who lives in Hutchinson, Kansas has different constraints than a student in the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s not about who you know or where you’re located- it’s about being resourceful and leveraging opportunity.
Best of luck to all applying!
I didn’t get into RSI. Plan B– contingency plan
If not admitted, you can try to simulate the experience and participate in similar programming on your own to parallel the RSI benefits– bonus points for independent initiative, resilience, and growth mindset!
Independent research conducted with a college professor or grad students is incredibly valuable for STEM-bound applicants. Independent or group research that results in a published journal paper where the student is mentioned as a co-author or credited as a research assistant is a huge achievement. As RSI prepares students to speak at academic conferences, you can do so, too.
Aim to pursue a research topic that will match up with the STEM field that you plan to pursue as a major. You may need to cold email several professors and/or lab directors at universities before you get a response that your research assistance is needed. Cast a wide net and don’t be disheartened!
Present at a conference
You can bookmark the IEMS conference which is held annually in March in Clearwater, Florida, accepting presenting high school students in the fields of Industry, Engineering, Management Systems, and related STEM fields. IEMS hosts professors and scholars in Industrial Engineering, and branches out into related applied fields and industries.
The conference directors believe in preparing and empowering high school students to share their innovations and network with other academics– leading them to add a rare high school and undergraduate student presenting track!
Track fields include but are not limited to: Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing and more!), Automation and Modeling, Business Analytics, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Corporate Governance, Data Analytics, Engineering Innovations, Healthcare Systems, Human Factors & Cognitive Engineering, Leadership & Diversity, Quality Planning & Process Improvement, Supply Chain Management, etc. See a full list of tracks in the Call for Papers.
Compete with this!
Additionally, original research that a student begins with a professor or grad students can be later used to enter amazing science competitions such as:
- Intel ISEF
- Google Science Fair
- Regeneron Science Talent Search
Whether you started your research with RSI or independently, you can take your findings to compete in science fairs and other math or science-based competitions. Students have gone on to apply for: Rhodes Scholars, Waterman Awards, and Simons Investigators.
An Empowerly counselor can help you chart out a dynamic and rigorous summer. Click below to schedule a consult by phone to learn more.