How, if at all, should I mention my research position in my college applications?

I have a research position doing literature review for a study under my mother. I initially just took the job because I needed the money, with no intention of bringing it up on my college applications. However, I’m beginning to realize the majors/careers that I’m interested in are somewhat related to the scope of this study. My mom and her colleagues are fairly well-known in their fields (niche as they are) and this research will be published in a well-regarded journal (I obviously won’t be listed as an author, since I’m only reviewing studies and not conducting the actual research). Can I list this as a paid job, even though I’m not on the official books for the university and I’m being paid only through my mom, perhaps somewhat informally? (Normally this position would be held by a college student who would be paid on the books through the university.) Should I mention it at all, since it’s blatant nepotism?

No, you can’t claim that the college hired you for a paid job when they didn’t. In the work world prospective employers sometimes call previous employers to verify employment. If the colleges you’re applying to called the university where your mom works to verify your employment the staff at your mom’s college would have to say you’re not an employee. But you can say you volunteer there.

List it as one of your 10 Ecs on the Common App and then provide more information about it in the Additional Information section—as it’s very hard to describe any research position in the low amount of characters provided in the EC section.

Thanks for the advice. I probably will start doing published work (published in a journal) in the same field of research soon; my name will be on it but my mom’s likely won’t since I will be writing the papers. Should I handle this similarly?

It takes time for research to be conducted. Then papers have to be written, edited, and submitted. If you’re applying to colleges this fall you won’t have time to do all of that by the time your applications go out. If you’re not doing research yet there’s nothing to put on your app. You can’t really write that you probably will do research and plan to get published.

I don’t know if doing research with your mom is going to be a tip at Stanford, Ivies, or top UCs even if your mom is faculty at Stanford. It’s probably less help if you’re planning to write a paper based on the research she did with her colleagues.

Make sure you have a couple of safeties and matches in your list. There are a lot of great schools out there. Don’t limit yourself to just a few.

yeah, stanford is always a reach so i’m really not hoping for much. the paper will be less observational research and more literature review. i’m not sure of the specifics of her study but it’s been ongoing for several years now and she has several students all doing literature review for her right now — i’m not sure of the specifics on where and when it’s published, to be honest (she just said it would be), so you’re right, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t be in time for apps, at least for UCs and early action.

how would you choose a safety? i’m struggling with this a little bit. i’ve talked to a few of my friends with similar stats who graduated this year and most of them used cal poly slo as their safety since we live in the area and are dependents of faculty. i know they use mca to determine admission, and according to the online calculated mine is nearly 6000, but since i’m planning to apply in architecture, is it too risky to be a safety? and how do you know if a school is a match?

I think @ucbalumnus might know something about CA colleges. He may be able to suggest safeties.