Why “Research Projects” Resonates with College Admission Officers

Tia Hill, Director of College Counseling, decided to experience AFAR for herself to see just how important this has become with College Admissions Officers.

Tia Hill, Director of College Counseling, decided to experience AFAR for herself to see just how important this has become with College Admissions Officers.

In an increasingly competitive college admissions process, the battle to stand out in a sea of sameness is becoming harder each year.  Community service and consecutive seasons on a sports team are simply table stakes. To dive a little deeper into what it takes to capture the attention of admission officers, students need not look further than AFAR.

According to Tia Hill, Director of College Counseling at Davidson Day School, who also worked in the college admission world for six years, says research projects like AFAR stand out to admission and scholarship committees more than you know.

“AFAR is the only pre-collegiate international archeological research program in the world and participation in such a unique opportunity sets students apart from the thousands of college applications that are read each year,” added Hill.  “This is research with genuine discovery that covers a wide range of disciplines.”

Each of the international research sites, including Belize, Spain, Portugal, and Greece,  deliver these experiences:

History—Uncovering artifacts from ancient civilizations and quite literally recording history!

Science—Engaging in a real world application of the scientific method by making observations, conducting research, forming hypotheses, recording data, and drawing conclusions.

Math—Reading precise measurements off calibration tools, conducting statistical analyses, using mathematical algorithms to evaluate dig sites, and encouraging the development of a strong sense of numbers.  Math is everywhere!

Foreign language—Speaking and listening to native languages while being immersed in local culture.

Leadership—Multiple year students begin to take on leadership roles, becoming unit leaders in the field, and mentors to their peers.

In addition to bolstering a student’s resume in these academic areas, investing in a summer research program provides year-round opportunities.  All participants have an option to author scientific publications, participate in outreach projects, and present their findings alongside the world’s experts at academic conferences, including Maya at the Lago held at Davidson Day School in April; Maya at the Playa held in Florida; and the University of Calgary’s annual Chacmool Archaeology Conference in Canada.

Hill adds that some colleges allow students to present research portfolios as a supplement to their application, and cites several students who have done so and have been admitted into schools like MIT.

“If students start early-on and stick with research programs like AFAR long-term, by the time they finish high school they will have built a comprehensive research-based resume.”   “It also makes them good global citizens – it teaches them how to move throughout the world.”

You can find more information here about how to apply to join a 2019 research project.