School Research Doesn’t Have To Be a Drag!

By Kevin Kwok

(Published on 5 August 2021)

“School”. “Research”. For some of us, putting those two words together can induce an aneurysm. Fortunately, it need not be stressful, and you need not come away from the process empty-handed, which will happen if your research amounts to… well…

So, how do you get the most out of your school research?

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Part 1: 🤓📝📚🔎💯

As a college student, you are expected to dedicate more and more time towards studying the thing(s) you enjoy. Thus, when you begin researching schools, academia isn’t a bad place to start.

If you already know what your prospective major is, simply load up the official website of a university you are interested in and navigate to the department your major is in. From there, find the following:

  • General requirements: See if there is anything wholly unexpected.
    ● If yes, it could mean that this school’s requirements for the major are especially onerous. It could also mean that you don’t know the nature of your anticipated major well enough – back to the drawing board!
    Major-minor combos: Will majoring in this subject at Smartypants School not leave me enough time to pursue an exciting minor?
  • Course offerings and specializations: As an aspiring marine biologist, imagine your disappointment when the Institute of Landlubbers does not offer this specialization – or even any relevant courses – in their biology department. Would you still apply?
  • Faculty: If you are a budding grad school enthusiast, have a gander at what the faculty’s research areas are. Do they match up with your interests?
  • Study abroad: Who doesn’t dream of forgoing a miserable Midwestern or New England winter for sunnier climes? That being said, make sure that the University of Far-Flung Travelling’s study abroad programs contain courses that are HELPFUL (not just relevant) to your studies.

Even if you don’t know what your prospective major is, don’t skip this section! Instead, focus on your best subject and/or your favorite subject.

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Part 2: 🚴🌈🏸🎲🎮

When you’re done looking at academia, start investigating the university’s extracurricular offerings by going to the school’s student club/organization directory. Once you find the university’s equivalent of a student club you’re currently active in, look for the following:

  • Available information: What’s there in the directory? For some clubs, it could be a treasure trove, but for others, there may be barely anything to write home about.
  • Social media: Typically, student clubs’ social media channels are more active than their official site. See when these channels were last updated.
  • COVID-19 response: See how the club’s culture has sustained itself amidst the pandemic (if at all)

All of the above will help you make an educated guess as to whether the student club in question is active, inactive, or somewhere in between!

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Part 3: 🏝️🍽️🚆🎨🎟️

We also urge you to customize your school research according to your needs. What matters to you may not worry your peers as much. Some examples:

  • Campus dining options (vegetarian/vegan, religious, gluten-free, etc.)
  • Living off-campus
  • College sports
  • Student diversity
  • Greek life (or lack thereof)

Also consider what might be waiting for you off-campus! On Google Maps, locate the university’s campus. Is it in a major city? A regional city? A college town? The middle of nowhere?

Even if you find that the campus is within metropolitan limits, don’t forget about that North American sprawl! Unless you plan to own a car, or want to spend a fortune on Uber, use Google Maps to investigate how long it would take on public transport to go from campus to…

  • Interesting neighborhoods
  • Cultural offerings that align with your interests
  • Museums, galleries, cinemas, etc.
  • Airports or Amtrak/Greyhound stations
  • Even if the distance from campus is manageable, is there anywhere interesting to go for a weekend getaway?
  • Delicious food – is your university located in a food desert?
  • Anything else that’s a priority for you. Nobody knows you better than yourself!

Remember, even after all this research, it never hurts to get extra advice! Sign up for The Edge’s admissions consulting services, and let us put you at ease with a tailored school list that complements your aspirations for your studies and university life.


About The Edge

The Edge Learning Center is Hong Kong’s premier Test Preparation, Academic Tutoring, and Admissions Consulting services provider. Founded in 2008, The Edge has helped thousands of students improve their ACT and SAT scores as well as their IB and AP grades. The AC team has just finished off another successful period in which students gained acceptance to schools such as MIT, UChicago, Columbia, and more! Check out the rest of our 2019 Admissions Results!

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