Moving out of classroom, more undergraduates turn to research

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"Nationally, there is nothing hotter than undergraduate research," says
George Barthalmus, N.C. State's director of undergraduate research.

Undergraduate research has become almost a prerequisite for top graduate
programs. That's a big reason demand is skyrocketing -- N.C. State can't say
exactly how many undergraduates do research, but the number is growing
rapidly. In the chemistry department, 58 percent of majors do research,
compared to 15 percent five years ago.

Not only are undergraduate researchers more engaged in their subject, but
they also appear to improve more broadly in teamwork and collegiality --
skills employers value but complain students don't typically learn in class.

Students involved in research "are more likely to go visit faculty in their
office hours because they think the faculty really care about their academic
success," said Sandra Gregerman, director of the Undergraduate Research
Opportunity Program at the University of Michigan.

And there's some evidence that research gives an extra boost to groups that
fall off track at higher rates, such as minorities and women interested in
science careers.

Low-income students are another target group. N.C. State is tying
undergraduate research to its new "Pack Promise" financial aid program.

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