Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Step in the Right Direction?

Audrey Williams June has a nice article on the placement rates of Ph.D. programs. She notes that some graduate programs do not collect data on graduate placement or other vital information that might be helpful to students going into graduate school.

Since I have had to advise prospective graduate students in Egyptology, much of this data is data that have wanted to get my hands on for various programs. These include:
  • How many graduate students does the program accept on any given year?

  • What are the minimum and average scores for candidates admitted over the last ten years?

  • What does the faculty in that particular graduate program look for in their graduate students?

  • What percentage of admitted students in the last decade actually finish their programs?

  • How long, on average, has it taken for graduate students who have finished in the last ten years to finish their degrees?

  • How many graduates in the last ten years have jobs in the field?
Here are some of the things that the article mentioned that I had not thought of before:
  • How many years did it take for a graduate to get a tenure-track job?

  • Why do admitted students leave the program?

  • What are the completion rates of various advisers in the program?

  • What are the placement rates of various advisers in the program?
This information is very difficult to come by. Part of that is that the picture is anything but rosy.

Other relevant data for prospective graduate students to consider includes:
  • How much is tuition at the school in question?

  • What is the average annual percentage tuition increase over the last ten years?

  • How much are the other fees at the school?

  • What is the average cost of living in the area?

  • What is the crime rate in the area?
This information is easier to come by but some of it is buried in the university's website and not always easy to find. The University can say that it is publicly available but they do nothing to make it accessible. I remember being surprised to stumble across one University's report of athletic expenditures buried on its police department website (and it disappeared after about a month). All of this information could help prospective graduate students. After all, most people do not enter a Ph.D. program in Egyptology so they can work in a travel agency or play minor league baseball (two actual careers); they go into the programs because they think they actually want ot work in the field. So efforts by the Chronicle of Higher Education to gather this information in its Ph.D. Placement Project should be applauded. Unfortunately, all the links that I could find on the site to the Project are dead. It is still a good idea.