Choosing A Research University

The tips below will provide students with insights from an article in The US News & World Report regarding the pros and cons of small/large colleges.

            Typically research colleges are much larger, and their professors focus highly on research, opposed to teaching.

            Here are 10 benefits of attending a research university:

1. The best researchers can be the best teachers: There is a common held belief that professors who focus mainly on research are not committed to the classroom and are therefore poor teachers. However, that is not always the case. Top researchers can be more knowledgeable about the field they teach because they are constantly engaged in that field. They can share more expert advice than most other professors could.

2. Professors are more current: Research professors will always be looking for new trends and opportunities in the classes they teach. They will be more up-to-date with breaking discoveries that may not have even hit textbooks yet. They will use these findings as material for their classes. It is very unlikely for them to teach out-dated, obsolete information.

3. Professors are more self-confident: Professors at research universities are always seeking new discoveries, awards, salary raises/bonuses and other accolades. Most of them are very successful in achieving these – or else they probably would not be teaching. Therefore, they have more enthusiasm for the subjects they study and teach. They feel better about themselves, which can motivate them to work harder with both their research and their teaching. Professors will bring their honest excitement into the classroom.

4. Collaborative research with professors: There are still plenty of opportunities for students to collaborate in research findings with professors at smaller colleges. However, there is always a continual high amount of research that is channeling through research universities. Students will have great opportunities to work with professors and even coauthor or present findings with professors. Figures show that students learn more effectively outside of the classroom in hands-on, real-world scenarios rather than inside a classroom.

5. More majors to choose from: Some students go into college knowing exactly what they want to study and where they want to work. Others have no idea, and some think they know what the want to do, but then later think twice about it. Unless you’re the first student, a research university will benefit here. Research universities offer many more majors, which allow students to completely change their course of study without having to transfer colleges. At some larger, research colleges, students can choose from over 300 majors. However, at smaller schools they may only have 25-30 options. Students may not have as much flexibility with seemingly creating their own majors. However, their majors can be more specific and specialized.

6. New, updated facilities: Science professors at top universities have access to some of the best labs in the country. Where do you think they teach from? Also, top research universities consistently find ways to glean more government funds, which allows these colleges to build larger libraries, labs and facilities. This gives their professors access to more information and technology. Professors will be continuously learning and sharing that information with their students.

7. Interaction with graduate students: Some believe that graduate students can distract professors’ attention and efforts away from undergrads. Also, others believe that many grad students are not qualified to teach undergraduates, as many of them do. This can be true in some cases. However, graduate students can serve as great mentors for undergrads. Most of them are very current and up-to-date in their fields of interest. They can offer valuable advice to undergrads regarding internships, jobs and grad schools.

8. Students can take graduate-level classes: This is college students’ version of taking Advanced Placement classes while in high school. Motivated students who are up to the challenge of graduate-level classes will be pushed much harder than what they are used to. This can be very beneficial to students who are interested in attending grad school. Also, graduate-level classes demand more research papers and real-world scenarios. With graduate-level classes, students can be further engaged in what their fields will demand after college.

9. You will be more recognized: Your first job interview could begin with your prospective employer mentioning that your college is a great school. At a smaller college, however, your employer might be stuck asking where that school is or what it’s all about. Larger, research universities are much more recognized than smaller colleges. Therefore, it is sometimes believed that their students are of a higher caliber. This may not always be true, but it could help you earn a great job/internship, or help you get accepted into a prestigious grad school.

10. Greater networking opportunities: Get used to hearing this term over-and-over again. Professors and alumni from all colleges preach tirelessly about the benefits of networking. Many will tell stories about how networking helped them get their first job or internship. It’s true, but we won’t harp on it. Professors at research universities – because of the quality of their research – are very well-connected in their respective industries. They are more than willing to help their best students find jobs and internships. Most professors will even bring students on company tours and introduce them to their industry peers.