Maged (art history, 2020), a Pioneer scholar from Egypt currently attending Connecticut College, had always focused on the sciences at school and assumed he would pursue a STEM field in college. When applying to Pioneer, however, he was intrigued by the number of research areas he had never even heard of. Ultimately, he chose art history from the list, because he wanted to explore his interest in art through an academic lens. His research topic was on the architecture of Coptic churches, which gave him an opportunity to learn more about his own society. “I learned a lot about the architecture of the Coptic Church in my country, which was really interesting for me because throughout my childhood I would see these amazing churches, but I had never experienced visiting them inside because I am a Muslim, and it isn’t that common for Muslims to visit churches. I experienced something new academically, and I experienced something new culturally and socially as well,” Maged explains. Maged’s research is a testament to his intellectual curiosity and openness to learning about different cultures. Pioneer gave him the chance to show these traits to universities by providing a platform to conduct credible research. 

When applying to universities, the Pioneer-certified research paper serves as an excellent example of a student’s work ethic, passion for learning, and ability to write at a college level. Pioneer scholars draw upon their experience at Pioneer in essays and interviews to prove to universities that they are both driven and capable. It is Pioneer’s academic system and strict ethical standards that allows Pioneer scholars to talk about their experience with the confidence that their work has been verified and will be respected by admissions officers. Without this certification, the validity and ethics of students’ research may be called into question. As the only fully-accredited online research program for high school students, Pioneer Academics is trusted by students and admissions officers alike. 

Journey (neuroscience, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from the United States now attending Stanford University, says that her Pioneer research experience was a key element in her university applications. “Pioneer helped me in my application, because colleges really wanted to see that not only was I interested in STEM in school, but I was able to go further and pursue something outside of class. I had that drive to feed my interest,” she explains. While there are many ways to pursue one’s interests outside of class, without a trustworthy academic system in place, there is no way to prove the credibility and authenticity of these pursuits. Admissions officers are sensitive to possible conflicts of interest in certain online research programs that do not have the same rigorous, transparent standards as Pioneer.  

Lal (economics, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from Turkey now at Harvard University,  feels that her participation in Pioneer helped her provide a balanced and accurate representation of herself to college admissions officers. In the evaluation Pioneer sends to colleges, Lal says, “[The Pioneer evaluation] provides you with very detailed feedback about your research paper, both good and bad… They do this in a very professional manner so that everyone can understand your pros and cons as a researcher.” The objectivity of the evaluation increases its credibility. Lal’s Pioneer experience also played a role in her admissions interviews. “During my Harvard interview, my interviewer was very interested in learning about this research… She asked me about my findings and about how I’m planning to use this research in the future. She asked me what I learned in this program, and I really believe this made a significant positive impact on my application,” she says. 

Pioneer Academics draws credibility from its rigorous academic standards and joint academic oversight with Oberlin College. Pioneer verifies that all papers written by Pioneer scholars have authentic authorship and original topics. Papers undergo random plagiarism checks, and the highest ethical standards are upheld in Pioneer’s online writing center. Because papers are held to such high standards, Pioneer Academics can certify their authenticity. Upon completion of the program, Pioneer assembles a portfolio including the student’s research paper, a standardized evaluation by the faculty mentor, and certifying documents issued by Pioneer. “I used my Pioneer experience in college applications by having the [portfolio] sent to all the colleges I was applying to,” explains Sannivas (math, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from India currently attending Brown University. “The portfolio is the thing that Pioneer provides that includes your research paper, comments from your professor, and a general certification from Pioneer. The whole portfolio is sent to colleges, and Pioneer makes that very simple.” Oberlin College serves as the secondary certifying body, and the Pioneer research program is the only accredited online research program for high school students. Pioneer has a college course ID and can be listed in the “education” section of most college applications. This partnership, founded on shared academic values, is further proof of Pioneer’s credibility. 

Although the application process for universities in the United Kingdom differs from that of the United States, Pioneer scholars still use their research experience to stand out from the crowd. Lunchen (2019, economics), a Pioneer scholar from China, is a student at Oxford University. To apply, he used the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) application. “The UCAS application didn’t have a space for me to upload my recommendation letters, so I actually didn’t get to upload my Pioneer portfolio. Instead, I wrote extensively about my Pioneer research experience in my personal statement, both about the background of my research and my research process and conclusions,” Lunchen explains. In his interview, he had the chance to defend his research to an economics professor, who asked him challenging questions that promoted a lively discussion. “I think that shows my ability to think critically and independently,” he says. 

Pioneer provides an ideal opportunity for students to showcase their unique academic interests to colleges all over the world. Pioneer scholars dive into a research area with the support of Pioneer’s academic system, producing authentic and original research that demonstrates their passions. Pioneer scholars can submit this research to universities with confidence knowing that it is backed up by Pioneer’s well-earned reputation as an ethical and rigorous academic organization. Most importantly, participants in the Pioneer research program grow as scholars and are confident and prepared to take on the challenges of higher education.

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