What does it take to get into a REU program or to be a research assistant for a proffessor?
The easiest way to get into research would be to go right up and ask a professor at you home institution. See if they have any ongoing projects that you can help with. There are always more jobs in a lab than people to do them! I'm sure there would be someone in need of another person.
REU programs will be a little tougher. They are competitive (I applied to 9 this year and got into 1), but this doesn't mean they are impossible to get into. Most of them have a minimum GPA, which is around 3.3 or higher (at least in my experience). You will have the best chances of getting one with a good GPA, previous experience, and good letters of recommendation. I did not have previous experience and still got one, so it's not impossible. Also, when applying, the more interested you seem the better! I definitely would recommend an REU to anybody. It's a great experience where you get tons of experience and make connections outside your home institution (assuming the REU is not held at your school, obviously).
Here is the NSF's REU website. It lists all REU sites in all fields. It should get you started. The application forms should be at each individual site's webpage. Good Luck!
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