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Spring Academic Conference Season is HERE

It’s spring-time, and academic conference season is BLOOMING. Academic conferences exist all over the world in nearly every field you can imagine. Every academic major has a conference aligned with it and usually a professional association or university that hosts them. Conference presentation and attendance is no longer something only for faculty or working professionals/researchers –high school students (even middle school!), college students and graduate students can and should join in and take advantage of the “virtual” opportunity.


When you attend an academic conference, you gain:  exposure to advanced research topics and trends, the ability to learn from some of the most forward-thinking scholars and faculty in your targeted field, networking opportunities with peer students/applicants, newfound inspiration, access to opportunities that exist outside of just your school or your area, and valuable advice/informed input on your own research pathway, paper, project or presentation.

Almost all of the U.S. top colleges have their own version of an Annual Undergraduate Research Conference.
All too often we hear from college students who didn’t know these existed on their campus until senior year —they could have been presenting and attending since freshman year!

College Enrichment & Advising

Take tangible steps to demonstrate scholarly achievements at the college level.

Here are some spring 2021 undergraduate research conferences (all virtual this year):

  • UMichigan’s is April 9, 2021
  • Stanford’s is April 10-11, 2021 (but you don’t need to be a Stanford student to present or attend–right now they have students from 38 colleges set to present virtually this year).
  • Penn State University’s is April 24, 2021
  • NYU’s is this May 6-7, 2021

What about conferences for high school students, working professionals or current graduate students?
Don’t worry, there are plenty for you too, and often conference registration discounts if you’re in school. In years past, committing to attending an academic conference often meant a hefty registration free, a possible flight, a hotel stay and meals while traveling. But, the 2021 spring conference season flipped almost all academic conferences to virtual (with plentiful sessions recorded!) so you have unique access to a huge list of 2021 academic conferences that can boost your credentials, exposure to your field, depth of knowledge, and networking opportunities. 

Case in point: In my role as Top Tier Senior Private Counselor, I recently urged an international high school student to attend an Ivy League faculty member’s international conference presentation on Zoom –she enjoyed a one-on-one chat after the session where she was free to ask questions about the lecture, connect with the faculty member about his institution and discuss research topics and trends.

Another student, who is applying to PhD programs this fall, was pleasantly surprised that her research paper proposal (abstract) was accepted for presentation at a prestigious international virtual conference in her field this spring. It will be a terrific boost for her resume, and the chair of the session happens to be a faculty member at her top targeted university.

Enrichment Program

Expand your student’s interests beyond the classroom and develop an academic niche throughout middle school and into high school!


With that…. here are five 2021 academic conferences (all virtual) that might appeal to you this spring: (high school students typically can secure the “undergrad” rate, but you often have to email the conference contact to request this)

  1. American Chemical Society’s Annual Meeting: April 5-10, 2021
    This STEM conference does a great service for students (high school students included) as they separate out their “student-focused programming.” These include sessions such as “Enabling environmentally friendly plastics” and “Goals and activities of the Warriors Chemistry Club: COVID-19 edition” (eyes on you, students seeking to launch a Chemistry Club at your school!).  ($29 online registration fee for all 5 days, though you only need to attend the sessions you want to.)
  2. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Soft Robotics hosted by Yale University: April 12-16, 2021 
    Presenters from Yale, Facebook, UC San Diego, Columbia, and more are planned. They also have optional included workshops on topics such as material intelligence and interventional robotics, as well as a robotics competition you can observe and two informative “speed networking” sessions you can partake in. ($25 online registration fee)
  3. Society for Affective Science Annual Conference (co-sponsored by Harvard, Tufts, and the Society for the Improvement for Psychological Science): April 13-16, 2021
    There are faculty presenters from UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, Harvard, UMichigan, Vanderbilt, and more. This 2021 conference examines topics on psychology, neuropsychology, family dynamics, and speech and brain patterns. ($50 online registration fee)
  4. Society for Military History’s 87th Annual Meeting: May 20-23, 2021
    There is an in-person option in Norfolk, VA and also a virtual option to attend. They have not yet posted the virtual registration rate, but will soon. Their on-site rates indicate that the virtual registration rate would be on par with the other conferences listed here.
  5. Society for Freshwater Science Annual Meeting: May 23-27, 2021
    This is their first ever virtual conference and sessions topics are set to cover: freshwater science ecological changes in arctic lakes and rivers, inequitable waterscapes, environmental justice, “herstory in freshwater sciences,” and more. There are also added (included) e-workshops on “writing for aquatic scientists” (including students), and my personal favorite “Trash Talk,” on the ecology of trash in freshwater. ($30 online registration fee)

These are 5 low cost options that could make a BIG impact on your spring, and perhaps your summer and eventual college, graduate school and/or research pathway as well.

Want a more personalized list of conferences and our tips and tricks on how to take full advantage of academic conference presentation, attendance and e-networking this year?  Get in touch, whether for grad or undergrad–we’d love to work with you!

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