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Definitely not an engineering prof. Top university professors (ie. R1 schools) are primarily judged on their research, not their teaching. If your professors "suck" it's because they're spending all of their time on the things that matter to their careers: grant writing and publications.

And students (good or bad) care about exam times because of... procrastination. The "bad" students (of the goof-off variety) don't stick around in engineering. At most of the top schools, a few C's and you're out. The cynical bad students often achieve mediocre grades but compensate by doing cool non-coursework stuff.

The top professors tend not be judged on their research, in my experience. They're judged on their publications. I, personally, know many 'top' professors that have enormous publication lists that come from being the guy who supplied the money via a grant application. From their publication list - which is what 'proves' their research excellence, you would be forgiven for thinking that they were savants. But they're generally just administrators with an eye for the main chance who view the publication list as yet another thing to be gamed.


Publications (or more generally, H-Index) are used as a proxy for research by administrators that cannot possibly judge the merits of the research itself. During the tenure process, administrators use other signals too: recommendation letters from peers, grants, "service", graduated students and their placements, etc.

When your work is only relevant or approachable to less than a dozen people on the planet, how can you expect a dean to judge it? They can't. So they use (often poor) proxies.


This is even more the case at public schools where large class sizes make it even more difficult for research-dedicated professors to engage with students. However, I think it's interesting that the article doesn't really mention cynical "good" students when I think I know more cynical "good" students than cynical bad students or plain "good" students. In particular, several of my friends are international students who pay essentially 4x the tuition I pay. That gives them an extreme incentive to go through college as efficiently as possible. This usually means attending a minimal amount of lectures, self-studying, and only showing up to turn in homework and take exams.

At a public school, especially in an engineering department, there often isn't much a difference between professor and a talking head reading off information from a student's perspective. In fact, one of the things that motivated cynical students quickly realize is that not only is self-study often more efficient than than the traditional go to lecture and take notes approach--it's often a far superior way to learn and you can easily find yourself outperforming students who diligently go to class. Cynical students quickly see through the facade of going to class for the sake of going to class.

The resources at a public school aren't about teaching.

Instead of

+Attend lecture

+Engage with professor who teaches your class

+Complete Assignments

+Take Exams

The flow becomes

+Study out of the textbook

+Complete Assignments

+Take Exams

+Engage with a professor on a research level and try to get out a publication

+Or forgo the research somewhat and try to graduate as soon as possible


True. The worst professor I had in school was a Nobel prize winner in physics.


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