2. Courses at research universities often incorporate the latest research. Faculty who are engaged in research are more in touch with breaking developments in their field. And they’re more likely to include this material—including discoveries too recent to make it into the textbook—in their classes. This makes for more exciting and up-to-date courses that are a whole lot more interesting than courses that are a remix of what’s already in the book.
3. The faculty can be more energized. Faculty at research universities are often making genuine discoveries and receiving recognition for their work. Large salaries, prizes, publications in distinguished journals or at prestigious presses, participation in international conferences or workshops: all of these mean prestige to the professor and, simply, feeling good about him or herself. These good feelings can carry over to the classroom when the professor feels genuine excitement and meaning in sharing with the students what he or she has discovered.
4. There is the possibility of internships and collaborative research with experts. Studies have shown that some of the best educational experiences for college students take place not in the classroom, but in their interactions with professors outside the classroom, especially in the context of shared research activities. Such collaborative projects provide chances for students to themselves become researchers, and even sometimes coauthors of published papers or copresenters at conferences, either of which is a major feather in anyone’s cap.
5. There are state-of-the-art facilities for research publication. Research universities have to provide top facilities so that their faculty can properly accomplish the research required of them. That means that the university has to invest in larger libraries and other equipment needed for research in various fields. In addition, the research faculty are able to, and at most research universities are expected to, win various kinds of grants from government, business and other agencies to pay for research costs. All this benefits the undergraduates who can then have access to the fancy lasers, rapid prototyping machines, or whatever else the faculty is playing with.
6. You can have contact with graduate students. The fact that research universities devote significant attention to training graduate students is often seen in a very negative light. Some people complain about grad students getting the bulk of faculty attention and, worse, about grad students doing lots of the teaching in undergraduate courses—and being inexperienced, bad teachers to boot. We don’t deny that these can be problems. But undergraduate students can benefit from hanging out with grad students. Often grad students are willing to mentor and advise undergraduates about careers, and, yes, graduate school. And their devotion and serious involvement with learning sets a great example for undergrads to follow.
7. You get a chance to take graduate courses—if you’re up to it. For a student who is really interested and serious about a field, there is nothing more rewarding than taking a graduate course. These courses are more advanced and specialized than any undergraduate course, and they give you a taste of what it’s like to play in the big leagues. And this can be an opportunity for students to make the critical leap from just mastering a field to actually advancing the field through their own discoveries.
8. You could get an advantage for admission to graduate and professional schools. Graduate and professional schools tend to think that students from research universities will be better trained than students coming from smaller colleges, especially when the research universities have faculty members who are well known in the field. Graduate and professional schools put extra faith in letters of recommendation that come from professors whose names they know. It’s the top researchers in the field who have the best name recognition.
9. You can network with distinguished and well-placed people in the field. Researchers generally have great connections and can help their students get networked with key players in the field. These days many researchers will take students with them to conferences and introduce them around. This is a great way to get established in a field and launch yourself in a job or career.