I cannot tell you how much I hated these labs. I am neither physically coordinated (meaning I always spilled chemicals or knocked over pendulums) nor good at following a set of specific procedures. I wanted to experiment, not do experiments.
So when I tell my friends back home that I'm doing research, I get some groans. When they think of labwork, they think of high school.
This could not be further from the truth. Research in college is about delving into the unknown, not repeating well-established procedures. There are no right or wrong answers, because there are no answers at all. If a result is unexpected, it is not (necessarily) inaccurate. Rather than simply "messing up", you may have discovered something important.
One big difference I find between research in high school vs. college is the ability to fail. In fact, if you choose to research in college you will fail a LOT. Experiments won't work out; equipment will fail; companies will withhold information. But these obstacles are where your creativity can shine. Usually the most ingenious decisions made in research are not made in the planning phases, but in the troubleshooting.
Also, in college you can get paid for research. That's pretty cool.
So how does one go about finding a position? Some colleges have "research fairs" at the beginning of the year for students to meet professors and learn about opportunities. Be open-minded! Sometimes, the most fulfilling opportunities exist outside your major. Right now, i'm a Computer Science major but my research is in Environmental Engineering and I couldn't be happier.
Of course, you can always email professors that you think you would like to work with. Before you do this, always visit their website and see what kind of research they are doing so you can get an idea of what subject areas they cover and prove that you've done your homework!
If you're interested in the humanities, don't be discouraged. There's plenty of research going on in everything from sociology to philosophy to art history. Again, take a look at what your professors are doing and see if you find it interesting!
In the end, college is about opportunities, and if you don't like doing research there are thousands of other things you can do. But give it a shot; it may surprise you!
-- Joanna Slusarewicz