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Summer Plans Dilemma: RSI, INSEAD, Harvard.. Please help! Research Focused

nvb123nvb123 Registered User Posts: 135 Junior Member
edited August 8 in Summer Programs
Hi everyone, I'm a rising junior from Midwestern USA and I am currently planning my summer plans for next year (2019). I have pretty much three options/opportunities to look into right now. Could you all please give feedback on the positives/negatives and which one may be best! Here are the options:

1. RSI (Research Science Institute) at MIT. I'm sure basically everyone knows about this on CC, but just going over the details. I obviously haven't gotten into the program yet (and there's a good chance I won't too because of such a low acceptance rate), but this is an *awesome* program for research. On top of that, it's an actual summer program, unlike the other two options I have (but this doesn't affect me much). The major thing with RSI is how prestigious it is. If I get in, it would be an incredibly prestigious opportunity for me. The major issue is that I don't really know if I should even apply if I decide to choose one of my other options.

2. Summer research internship (independent research) at INSEAD in Paris, France. This one is *extremely* unique, I got a response from a renowned professor at INSEAD that I could neuroeconomics research with her. So I'm sure not many people know what INSEAD is, but it is basically the Harvard Biz School for Europe. It's a top biz school in the world and doing research here would be an incredible experience for me, since it would be like study abroad but I'd still get to work. The professor is also very famous in the field of decision neuroscience. This research topic also interests me a lot, since it integrates business and neuroscience.

3. Summer research internship (independent research) at Harvard University in Boston. I also got a response from a professor at Harvard Med School to do neurodevelopmental disorder research in her lab. This is also a great opportunity for me because Harvard is one of my top choice schools and I would love to go here. It would also be cool to live in Boston for a couple months, since I've never been there.

My future goals are mainly to dual major in neuroscience and economics/business/finance, so it would be awesome if you all can help me decide which opportunity is best for me!

Thank you!

Replies to: Summer Plans Dilemma: RSI, INSEAD, Harvard.. Please help! Research Focused

  • yucca10yucca10 Registered User Posts: 719 Member
    edited August 8
    Judging by your other posts, you have a better-than-average shot at RSI, but I would still take one of the other two opportunities because you already know the topics interest you, and it's important not to be hung on prestige. I would personally prefer Paris, but it depends on your level of comfort in living abroad.
  • nvb123nvb123 Registered User Posts: 135 Junior Member
    @yucca10 Ya that was one thing I was worried about at RSI: not being able to do exactly what I want to do. I'm leaning towards INSEAD right now, but not sure how my parents feel about me living in Paris alone for 2.5 months.. I know they'd be fine with it in Boston though since I've already done it in Philly at UPenn. Hopefully everything works out for the better..
  • yucca10yucca10 Registered User Posts: 719 Member
    Do you know any French? INSEAD is actually in Fontainebleau which is is a cute small town outside of Paris, and you may not have time to be in Paris much except on weekends. I would consider it (and Paris, too) to be much safer than Philly.
  • nvb123nvb123 Registered User Posts: 135 Junior Member
    edited August 8
    @yucca10 Hahah, unfortunately I speak very little French. However, I'm quite fast with languages, so I could pick up on the conversational French to get me around Paris/Fontainebleau within a couple months (I would have until late May/early June 2019).

    Actually, this professor works on neuromarketing research at INSEAD in Fontainebleau and behavioral economics research in Paris in a INSEAD-Sorbonne University consortium lab so I would probably be working in both places. It's nice to hear that the cities are both much safer than Philly, it'll be reassuring for my parents!
  • renaissancedadrenaissancedad Registered User Posts: 1,477 Senior Member
    @nvb123, RSI is undoubtedly prestigious and is viewed by many as a "golden ticket"; but I think it is more of a screening tool for top schools. Students with the motivation, drive, research experience and credentials to get into RSI are already pre-screened for the college application process. You are undoubtedly qualified, and have research experience and a clear focus; coming from Missouri doesn't hurt, but the process is still extremely competitive, and no one should count on admission to RSI.

    I personally think that carving your own path is at least as impressive to top colleges as getting into a prestigious pre-existing program. You've already taken the initiative to contact professors and do research, and to travel to away cities on your own at a young age. That shows drive, independence and maturity. I'm not sure how the logistics would work in terms of living in France on your own at age 17 and traveling between Paris and Fountainebleau, but if you can make it work and can handle it, and your parents are ok with it, that would provide a ton of experience in its own right, beyond the research opportunity.

    Given your interests, I kind of wish there were some way to do both the INSEAD and Boston internships, but it probably isn't feasible. But it may be something to explore with the Harvard prof - keep that door open, even if you decide on INSEAD. The MIT Health-Sciences program is collaborative with Harvard Medical School and many students do research at Harvard Medical School, so it might even be possible to combine working with the Harvard professor as part of RSI if you end up applying and getting in, though I'm far from certain. That may be something to explore if you don't go the INSEAD route.
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