Is the research program too elitist?

Becky Han, Staff Assistant

When does a school activity or program cross the line as “too elitist?”  Parents and students alike have often used this phrase to describe Schreiber’s nationally recognized research program, which offers distinct programs in the fields of social science, mathematics, and science.  Students in the program can further expand their knowledge on specific subjects of interest, as well as enter various local and national competitions throughout their high school careers.

Regardless of the benefits, there were a number of complaints regarding Schreiber’s math research program due to the seemingly unfair advantage that it offers to the select students involved.  However, such complaints are ultimately unjustifiable, as the program provides personalized guidance to students who are particularly serious and passionate about conducting research. Thus, Schreiber’s research program should be supported rather than criticized and attacked.

“Just like it is for any other club or sports program, I strongly believe that the research program should continue being supported by the school,” said junior Alexsandra Gao of math research. “Students involved in the program could potentially contribute much to society by partaking in a variety of research projects.  Therefore, eliminating the opportunities to facilitate this progress would be ignorant.”

The research program at Schreiber accepts a total of thirty students per grade through a selective process that takes place during one’s freshman year.  Students interested in the program take the departmental qualifying exams in the same week as their midterms, and those who are selected to move on will be interviewed to further narrow down the results.  At the end of this annual process, ten students are admitted to each of the three research programs: social science, math, and science research.

The research program allows students to develop lifelong research and analytical skills.  Science, Math, and Social Science Research all culminate in an INTEL project, which students complete in their senior year. The close-knit environment allows students to share their research with each other and receive constructive feedback, and the one-to-ten teacher-student ratio allows the teacher to devote more time and attention to each pupil. Since each research teacher stays with their class for three years, they develop a strong rapport with their students and are able to help them improve over time.

“The research program is a microcosm of what we try to do at Schreiber overall and that is to get students  to think critically about numerous topics and articulate their thoughts and ideas eloquently,” said social science research teacher Mr. George Muhlbauer.

Students who wish to conduct research based on their own interests will be able to do so, unlike in other classes where one is typically assigned a specific topic. This gives students more freedom and time to address topics that interest them.  The beauty of research is that there is no predetermined curriculum, allowing students to set their own path for learning.  In addition, the program encourages personal academic development, as the majority of the research is found and analyzed independently.

“The research program guides students to conduct sophisticated research that contributes to society and gives merit to our school,” said sophomore Daisy Griffin of social science research.

As everybody has their own individual talents and interests, it is an essential process to find out what they are.  Being in the research program allows students to further discover which topics they approach with exceptional enthusiasm in an accepting and enjoyable environment.

Just because a student did not get accepted into the program, it does not mean there are no more chances for him or her to become involved in research.  Those who state that the research program’s selectiveness is unfair are always able to search for outside opportunities as an alternative option.

Schreiber’s research program offers an incredible opportunity for students to learn more about their individual interests with guidance from an experienced teacher and feedback from their peers.  During class, students are able to develop essential skills in a variety of fields and engage in topics they are truly passionate about.