Research Science Institute

June 23, 2020
By AdmissionSight

Research Science Institute (RSI)

If it’s your dream to go to a leading university like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and be among the most elite STEM researchers in the country, then the Research Science Institute is the perfect place to spend this summer given it’s the country’s most competitive summer program for math and science students.

The cost-free program is designed to expand your science, technology, and engineering skills, and build new experiences and connections with cutting-edge researchers, and famed Nobel Laureates.

What is the Research Science Institute (RSI)?

Founded in 1984, the Research Science Institute brings together 80 of the most prestigious high school students from all over the world for six-weeks to work with the most innovative researchers and professors to conduct lab work and create individual research projects in Harvard and MIT facilities. Research paper example

Learn from Nobel Prize-winning chemists, geneticists, biologists, physicists, and industry leaders in STEM research, who previously attended the RSI program when they were high school students.

During the first-week students engage in tutorials and seminars to learn about the most groundbreaking advances in science and mathematical research. The following four weeks students are assigned an individual mentor to oversee and guide their work as they conduct their own research projects in MIT and Harvard labs.

a group of forensic science student wearing their complete laboratory outfit and working inside the lab

The final weeks of the program students are given eight minutes to present their written and oral projects in front of a panel distinguished Nobel Laureates and MIT staff. Five individual research projects for both oral and written presentations will be selected for their excellency, and winners receive a $1,000 scholarship towards their college tuition.

Last year the top 5 written winners covered a range of topics such as using single-cell RNA sequencing data to study plastid differentiation dynamics with nucleus-encoded gene expression, quantum integer-valued polynomials, cooperative relaxation in supercooled liquids, designing a general-purpose differential equation solver for parameter extraction, and the orbital decay of the x-ray binary.

The top 5 oral presentation winners ranged from topics such as transfer learning for automating science journalism, Artin’s Conjecture on primitive roots, The role of UV light in prebiotic chemistry, Fq rational points of hypersurfaces in weighted projective spaces over finite fields, and determining the size of the useful field of view (UFOV) based on target object attributes.

When students come to the RSI camp, they begin an experience that will lead to incredible lessons as well as the start of many strong relationships. When children come to RSI, they often get to experience – for the first time – what it is like to be surrounded by people who are passionate and excited about many of the exact same things as they are.

By the end of the program, it is very typical that many of the students have formed meaningful friendships that will follow them home, to college and beyond. There are numerous groups on social media and online that allow students to keep in touch.

Beyond that, RSI feels a strong sense of responsibility for the students who go through their camp and try as best they can to find top internships or even jobs. Basically, once you get into and attend RSI, you are part of the group for life and will always find a family rooted in a love for science with RSI.

Who gets into the Research Science Institute?

If you already like what you have read about RSI, chances are good that you already curious about your chances of getting into this highly prestigious and highly competitive program. For that reason, we have broken down the basic facts about what it takes to get into RSI and what students should prioritize when it comes to their application.

In order for students to gain admission, they must meet a specific list of general guidelines. It is important to keep in mind that overall, this is a highly selective and competitive program. Students should not be surprised or discouraged if they do not make the cut.

On average, over 1,600 students will apply to RSI every year and only 80 are ultimately chosen to take part. While those numbers are admittedly incredibly small, students should be encouraged by the fact that there is never any preferential treatment based on things like legacy or personal connections. Admission to RSI is always based exclusively on a student’s accomplishments and academics.

Moreover, students who apply to RSI are expected to be able to prove that they have enjoyed exceptional marks during their high school careers and have even taken leadership – or otherwise meaningful roles – in extracurriculars.

On average, students who get accepted to the Research Science Institute are going to have grade point averages and test scores that are within the top one percent of students across the country. Beyond that, RSI is also going to want to look at a student’s standardized test scores, so either the PSAT, SAT, or ACT.

Remember, just because a student meets all of the aforementioned requirements, it does not mean that they will be accepted. When applying to RSI, students are competing for a spot against some of the most exceptional students in the country – and the rest of the world!

That is why one of the best bits of advice that students can get when it comes to getting accepted is to be passionate and be able to show their passion! The students who get the chance to take part in RSI will tend to have the ability to show via their application that they have identified their passions specifically related to programs related to STEM and have pursued those passions deeply.

Those who make the final decisions related to RSI acceptance want to see what students have excelled in their classroom and have taken part in just a few extracurriculars and have excelled within those activities.

On top of that, students who have been published in scientific journals will get a boost as well as students who have gained recognition in other STEM-related programs or competitions such as the Science Olympiad.

Without a doubt, getting into RSI is one of the hardest things a student may do during their high school career. If they can reach their goal of getting accepted, many exciting doors will open for them in the near and long-term future.

RSI Alumni

A majority of RSI alumni go on to study at universities like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton and have received awards such as the Rhodes Scholars, Waterman Awards, and Simmons Investigators.

About 80 percent of successful RSI alumni end up in a STEM career and have contributed to inventions such as gene-editing technology, Pinterest, or Facebook. RSI also provides the opportunity to meet life-long friends, and potentially secure an MIT research position or job in the future.

Although RSI only accepts 80 out of about 1600 applicants each year there are still plenty of ways to stand out. The program primarily admits students whose average GPA, and test scores fall within the top 1%. Only one test score is required from either the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. Individual coursework and grades will also be considered, and any published research and awards received in national or local competitions.

As the program is free, it accommodates all types of students from different backgrounds. It specifically seeks to admit students who exemplify a passion for changing the world through research and may not have an opportunity to advance in their careers otherwise.

It is important to show as an applicant that even if you live in a place that does not offer unique opportunities to excel, that you still found a way to make your strengths shine within your community. This might range from attending a summer course at a community college on top, to joining in an extracurricular sport or volunteer work that accents your top abilities.

Top benefits of taking part in prestigious summer programs

Whether it’s attending RSI or any other prestigious summer program, there are a lot of reasons why passionate and committed high school students are going to want to make it a priority.

Of course, students will want to spend a portion of their summer vacation relaxing – either at home or on vacation – in order to refuel and recharge before another demanding and important school year. However, there is no question that spending a large portion of your summer improving your skills and exploring deeper into your passions and interests is going to be highly beneficial.

Whether a high school student is passionate about STEM-related subjects, the humanities, being creative or anything in between, here are some of the top reasons why students should take part in academic summer programs.

High schoolers get a chance to learn from positive role models

One really important reason why high school students will want to consider applying to summer programs in subjects that they are interested in is that students get the chance to be taught by experts in whatever fields they are interested in.

Whether it be coding, model UN, theater, or more. This not only offers a chance for students to be mentored by accomplished role models but also the chance to gain major cheerleaders. This can be really useful when students are looking for people to write letters of recommendation for their college applications or internships.

Beyond that, students get the chance to learn how the individuals and mentors gained their own sense of accomplishment and success in their chosen field.

High schoolers develop a strong sense of independence and self-reliance

One of the things that students sometimes struggle with when they go from high school to college is the newfound sense of independence. However, something that can really help high schoolers prepare for moving out of their parents’ homes and into the big outside world is a summer program.

Whether it is an asleep-away camp or just a day camp, students that take part in summer programs will get to experience what the world is like outside of the bubble that they have grown comfortable with.

A woman is writing on her notebook and looking at her watch.

Beyond that, students will get out of the environment where they are heavily encouraged to stay engaged like they are in their school. Summer programs are what students make out of them and they’ll be totally responsible for their own learning and progress. It’s a nice way to prepare for college in that way!

Meet new friends and make new connections

Top research shows that young students benefit greatly from exposure to students of other backgrounds, cultures and more. In fact, exposure to new ideas and challenges has been found to lead to an improvement in cognitive skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

a group of students gather to talk about their school project

Beyond that, high school students who take part in summer programs will get the chance to meet new friends who are passionate about the same things that they are. While many high schoolers are not thinking about professional connections or personal networks too much, summer programs can be a wonderful way for young men and women to start building connections that may one day help them get a job and more!

Experience life of college campuses

Much like the RSI, which as you now know is tied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, many different types of summer programs for high schoolers are provided by top colleges around the country.

A woman with hand under her chin while looking at her laptop.

That means that high schoolers will often get the chance to actually spend anywhere between a few days to several weeks living on that campus. That can not only help students get a good idea of what living on college campuses is like in a general sense, it can also be really helpful when it comes to students narrowing down the colleges or universities that they plan to go to.

In fact, it is not rare for a student to attend a summer program on a given college campus and then apply to – or even attend – that very same college once they graduate from high school.

Students avoid the “summer slide”

One major risk, for even the most exceptional of high school students, is to experience something that has been deemed the “summer slide.” This refers to the learning loss that millions of high school students experience during the summer vacation.

This occurs because students are no longer engaging in learning every day of the week as they are during the school year. Not only does cognitive ability go down, but students literally forget portions of what they learned during the previous school year.

On the other hand, if students take part in summer programs, they will actually experience something of the opposite of the summer slide. The tools and information they learned during the school year are often put to use and they will be able to continue building off of them, preparing them more to enjoy great success in the coming school year!

They get to prepare for college life and their career

As previously mentioned, getting high school students out of their comfort zone can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to preparing them for the real world. Summer programs are a really wonderful way for students to get the chance to dip their toes in the real world as they will be surrounded by new people, places, ideas, and more.

a group of students gather to talk about their school project

They will be able to draw upon these experiences as they prepare to go to college and later when they prepare for their first real job out of undergraduate. No doubt, summer programs can serve as a highly formative period in which students can build off of the experiences to learn more, meet wonderful people and improve their general confidence about going out into the world and getting involved in what they are most passionate about.

Experience a new kind of learning

While certain types of students really excel when it comes to traditional forms of learning, such as taking part in classes and exams, others excel much further with a more hands-on experience. One of the many benefits of taking part in summer programs is that they often are comprised of smaller groups of students – much like RSI – and can offer students the chance to be much more heavily engaged in the learning process.

Summer programs tend to incorporate many different activities and environments into their curricula so that students are able to get the most out of the way in which they learn the best.

Where to Apply?

Now that you know much about the RSI as well as what student programs offer high schoolers, you may be excited to apply. Here is what you need to know!

The program application is available here, and the deadline to submit is January 15th, 2020 for domestic students, and March 15, 2020, for international students.

To learn more about how to increase your chances of selection into programs like Research Science Institute, book a consult now with AdmissionSight today, which specializes in getting students into the country’s most competitive universities and programs.

Working through complex factors which drive a university, such as MIT, into the top rankings is no easy task. AdmissionSight is here to help students to develop a strategy for standing out as an applicant and getting into the elite university of your dreams.


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