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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, Second Edition by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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31. What University Professors Do

Many students cannot imagine going to speak with a professor in his or her office. At most universities, a student is likely to be unknown to the professor and would expect to feel like a nuisance, a distraction from more important work.

—William Pannapacker, associate professor of English, Hope College

Among professors, the freedom to pursue research is practically considered a birthright. I once talked to a friend of mine, who is a chemistry professor at a highly ranked university, about academics’ preoccupation with research. He summed up his motivation along with that of his peers this way: “I’m not paid to teach, I’m paid to do research.”

What’s fascinating about this research focus is that it didn’t used ...

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