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What Sets Polygence Apart from Other Research Programs for Middle and High School Students

4 minute read

Ever since remote learning took off during the pandemic, virtual research opportunities similar to the Polygence program have multiplied. As you weigh the pros and cons of each, we want you to know what makes Polygence so special and unique.

100% student-driven 

While other programs offer research courses in predetermined topics in group classes, the Polygence core program is focused on research that is 100% student-driven and facilitated with a 1-student-to-1-mentor ratio. This allows for the type of unique, in-depth research that classroom learning just can’t provide. We also pair middle and high school students with mentors who are closer in age to them—Ph.D. researchers, postdocs, and young professionals rather than older professors. We believe that students form a much tighter and more genuine bond with research mentors who are more able to relate to their experiences and concerns. Our mentors also act as big brothers and big sisters in the field.

Greatest value

Polygence is among the most affordable research programs on the market for middle and high school students. While many programs range from $5,000 to $13,000, ours are $2,500 on average - and we also provide lower-priced programs called Pods ($495) and Pathfinders ($600). Additionally, we offer discounts to students of registered partners and provide need-based scholarships through our 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Polygence Scholars Foundation.

More program and publication options 

We know traditional research paper writing is not every student’s cup of tea. That’s why we let students breathe life into their projects by helping them showcase their research in whichever established or emerging opportunities are most effective for them. Other programs focus solely on “academic research,” in which the only possible outcome is a research paper that they then publish in their own journal. We support much more than this. In addition to publishing in reputable and peer-reviewed high school journals, Polygence students have also chosen to attend conferences, submit to science fairs; create mini-documentaries and podcasts; and start blogs, awareness campaigns, and even full-fledged companies.

Many other programs also create their own "research journals" which are not independently peer-reviewed publications. They exist, in essence, only to showcase completed student work as part of the program cost. While many of these papers are excellent, the distinction is not lost on college admissions committees, and it's why we support our students in efforts to publish with established, independent journals with high review standards.

Run by Ph.D. researchers

Polygence was founded by academics trained at the best research institutions in the world: Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Stanford. No other program has as many expert researchers on its leadership team. We feel this authenticity is extremely important to the way we frame and execute our projects.

Largest mentor community 

We have over 2,500 expert mentors across all fields—from the humanities to STEM—registered on our platform. That’s more than 3 times as many as the next largest program and 10 times bigger than others. Polygence research mentors are also more highly qualified than most: 60% are from the Top 25 US News-ranked schools, and 75% are from the top 50. This means we can match you with an expert mentor suited to your specific interests better than any other program. 

Do your own research through Polygence!

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own.


Unlike other programs that have one or two annual application cycles with fixed meeting timelines, we build your Polygence program around your schedule. You can apply to start at any time of year, finish when you want to, pause the program for other obligations, and add more sessions if needed. You also decide when to meet with your research mentor through our calendar and Zoom integrations, letting you focus on your project rather than logistics.

Secure, state-of-the-art platform

Other middle and high school research programs juggle many different third-party technologies, often leading to confusion and inefficiency in students’ research efforts. Because we care about our students staying on track, we took great care to build a beautiful, custom-built platform synchronized between bespoke web and phone apps. Students, mentors, parents, and counselors are all able to communicate and track the project as it unfolds. Our platform also ensures that student and mentor privacy is completely protected.

Interested in seeing exactly what our students and mentors are capable of?

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Do Your Own Research Through Polygence

Your passion can be your college admissions edge! Polygence provides high schoolers a personalized, flexible research experience proven to boost your admission odds. Get matched to a mentor now!"