Apr 20, 2012

Why Consider National Research Universities

Johns Hopkins University
High school students who already know they’re destined for medical school or a graduate program in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields may want to get an early start on undergraduate research.
One place to look for these opportunities is within the membership of the Association of American Universities—a selective organization of 61 high-profile research universities in the United States and Canada.
Founded in 1900, the AAU focuses on research policy, research funding, and both graduate and undergraduate education.  Local members include Johns Hopkins University (one of 14 founders), and the Universities of Maryland and Virginia.
Consistently on the forefront of innovation, these universities perform about half of our nation’s basic research.  And there are many benefits for undergrads willing to tackle the challenges of what tends to be larger and more competitive research environment.
Here are a few of the advantages associated with research universities:
  • Opportunities to assist in well-funded labs working on cutting-edge research
  • A faculty of acknowledged “experts” connected to industry and academia (a benefit for students looking for jobs and internships)
  • State of the art facilities for research that include significant investment in equipment, support staff, and libraries
  • A larger variety of courses featuring professors who are aware of or possibly working in the newest developments in their fields
  • Larger choice in majors in more specific areas
  • Opportunities to take graduate level courses in many different program areas
  • Easy access to a variety of 5-year or “coterm” masters programs
  • The availability of well-funded summer research opportunities both on and off campus
  •  Publishing opportunities or the chance to present work in professional forums
  •  Invitations and financial support to attend conferences
  •  Admission advantage to those graduate and professional schools biased toward training available at research universities or strong institutional name recognition in key research areas
  • The chance to network with acknowledged experts who not only provide connections but also the possibility of five-star recommendations
  • The very real psychic rewards of being in on important findings or discoveries
Note that many of these same opportunities are available at smaller universities and colleges, but for the student ready to step into a large university environment, the research and variety of course offerings at these schools can be very attractive.
For more information on research universities, visit the AAU website.
This is the first of two articles on national research universities.

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