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    Frequently Asked Questions

    In the interest of clarity and transparency, we've gathered this FAQ for your review, but we highly encourage you to learn about how our program works and to have a look at our courses and instructors!

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Horizon Academic a selective program?

    The rate of acceptance at Horizon Academic is generally about 30%. When evaluating applications, we look for strong grades, good time management skills, a demonstrated interest in the course topic, and excellent communication skills.

    What is the expected time commitment?

    The total time commitment for Horizon Academic is at least 100 hours. On a weekly basis, students can expect 8-10 total hours of reading, writing, homework, and class time. Students are welcome and encouraged to put in more time into their projects if they have additional free time, but our experience is that 100 hours is the total commitment to develop a good long-form research project

    What are your requirements for admission?

    • Students must be enrolled in high school at the time of application (defined as grades 9-12). Most accepted students are in grades 10 and 11.
    • Students must have a strong GPA and demonstrate meaningful interest or achievement in their subject field. We require that applicants have a 3.67 unweighted GPA or equivalent.
    • Students do not need to have prior coursework in the subject to which they're applying (this would be unreasonable, since few high schools offer classes in Genetics or Neuroscience, for example). However, we expect that students will have taken the most challenging and relevant classes available to them in high school, and we expect that students have a working understanding of the basics of the subject to which they're applying, as demonstrated by their coursework, extracurriculars, and personal reading.
    • Students must have an average of 10 hours each week of free time to dedicate to the program.
    • Students must be punctual and have excellent time management skills.
    • Students must have reliable access to an internet connection, a microphone, and headphones.

    What is asked in the interview?

    We ask applicants a mix of questions designed to better understand an applicant's personal traits, to contextualize their research interests, and to probe their degree of preparedness and prior knowledge about the subject matter. We do not disclose interview questions in advance of the interview, but we do not see value in "trick questions" or asking extremely narrow factual questions. We are more interested in understanding an applicant's thought process, sense of personal motivation, and analytical abilities.

    How long does the program last?

    The program's Fall and Spring trimesters span 15 weeks. The Summer trimester follows a compacted schedule of 10 weeks In order to accommodate different summer holidays across the world.

    Does Horizon require prior research experience?

    Horizon does not require that students have prior research experience. Our faculty, as well as our writing advisors, work closely with students on learning the fundamentals of academic research and writing. We require that applicants have a 3.67 unweighted GPA or equivalent.

    How does Horizon schedule classes?

    The exact timing of each class depends on the location and schedule constraints of our students and faculty. Students are never required to take part in classes that conflict with mandatory school activities, and most of our classes are scheduled from between 5:00-10:00PM on weekdays, or on weekends.

    How are online classes conducted?

    All online sessions are conducted using advanced video-conferencing software that offers scholars an experience similar to a small seminar or face-to-face meeting. Students and faculty can see, hear, talk, and text chat with each other. Our platform also allows for screen-sharing so that students can view texts, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other visual aids.

    How do you choose course dates?

    We select our program dates with the schedules of busy high school students in mind and time the ending of each trimester to avoid conflicts with final exams.

    How do you choose course times for group classes?

    Because our instructors and students are based in many different time zones across the world, each class time is carefully considered in order to maximize the convenience of all students. The timing of each course cohort is different, so please reach out to us if you are curious about what time during the day or evening a particular class will be offered.

    At the end of the program, what do students get from the program?

    Students who successfully complete the program will complete a college-level research paper, most often about 5,000 words. This process offers students an avenue to improve as writers, to learn to interpret academic journal articles, and the They will receive a certificate of completion and a grade report, generated by their instructor using a university grading rubric. Grades are given on a "plus/minus" system (A+, A, A-, for example) as well as a score with a maximum of 100. Students who complete the program gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and often describe how the process of doing research changed their worldview or helped them in deciding what to study in university, something which they often write about in their university application personal statements. Students who do exceptional work also have the opportunity to earn letters of recommendation or to pursue outside recognition of the quality of their work through essay competitions, science fairs, or academic journals.

    Are there any costs involved?

    Yes. Horizon Academic provides extensive support to students as they complete their projects and offers a low staff-to-student ratio. Please contact us for more information regarding tuition and questions about need-based financial aid.

    Do students own the rights and intellectual property for their work?

    Yes. Students retain all intellectual property and authorship rights on the work that they complete.

    What age or grade level should a student be to consider Horizon?

    Horizon Academic welcomes all high school students as well as students who are taking a gap year between high school and college. The majority of our students are sophomores and juniors (meaning that, from the time that they enroll in the program, they expect to graduate high school in 1-2 years).

    How does topic selection work?

    Students apply to Horizon to work with us on a research project in a subject, and, when the apply for the program, they declare 3-5 "sub-topics", drawn from our list of 300+ pre-approved topics, which they are interested in exploring further. If a student is admitted and enrolls in the program, we work with the student in refining a specific research proposal and topic, supporting them in the process of identifying their research scope and focus. Ultimately, students are responsible for choosing their own research topic and a corresponding thesis statement or hypothesis. We advise and mentor students through this process in our program, but our mentors do not outright define or assign the research topic for the student, since the research proposal is a deeply personal choice and one which has educational value for students to determine themselves.

    Are there any physical classroom or laboratory spaces for students?

    Horizon Academic is a completely online research program for high school students to do a college level research paper after school or during the weekends or the summer. It is rare that any students in the same class live in the same state or even the same country, so in the interest of fairness to all of our students, there is no physical lab space for student use. Even for our more STEM-related topics like environmental engineering and machine learning and biotechnology, most quantitative research projects use desktop research methods utilizing publicly available data sets. Our students sometimes independently find local university lab resources, utilize citizen lab spaces, or gather original data in the field (for example, through surveys or through collecting water or soil samples).

    I want to get published in an academic journal. Can you help with that?

    Our program's objective is to mentor students through the process of doing college level research. After all, before worrying about publication, it’s important to write and develop an idea worth sharing. Many of our students are more interested in attempting college level work in a specific topic, gaining a better sense of certainty about a possible college major, doing a project they find fun and engaging, or earning a letter of recommendation.

     

    Some of our students see value in publishing their work after completing their papers. We do offer free guidance on publication if a student gets an A grade or better, and we provide a free list of publications and competitions that students may use regardless of their grade. We are proudly partnered with the Journal for Emerging Investigators, a leading high school research journal, and our students have been published in other journals including The National High School Journal of Science and Low Carbon Economy. Other students have been invited to present at national academic conferences such as the National Aquaponics Association National Conference. Others still have adapted their papers to win or place highly in competitive state science fairs. However, you should not apply for this program if you do not value doing the research in its own right; our program's goal is educational and focuses around the process of academic research. We are not a publication factory.

    Why don’t all of your students publish?

    Saying that all students who do research should publish is like saying that all students who learn music should play in the New York Symphony Orchestra. While getting into the New York Symphony Orchestra is (very) impressive, the symphony orchestra is no home for a jazz pianist, a player of the air guitar, or someone who doesn’t want to spend their working life wearing a tuxedo. Similarly, students who do research have different objectives when they sign up to work with us, and we strive to respect those goals when we work with them. Also, publication in prestigious journals that PhDs publish in is a process that often takes about many months (12-18 months is not uncommon). Some high school students simply do not have the time to commit to that. Publication editorial boards have a variety of considerations in mind besides the raw quality of the work (thematic considerations and networks or connections with authors, for instance). And students cannot submit to multiple journals at once; they can only have one pending submission of their work at one time. Because of these considerations, we suggest pursuing publication very selectively to students. Once more, apply for our program if you're interested in doing research as an inherent goal, or to build skills that will serve you well into your time in university. If you view research as valuable purely as a vehicle for publishing or winning a science fair, please look elsewhere as it is logistically impossible and ethically dubious to promise any publication or competitive outcome. Our top students have been successful in these efforts, but we make no guarantee about publication outcomes, nor are we prima facie able to assess the probability that a student can publish their work prior to the completion of this work.
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