Monday, November 29, 2010

More on the ponzi scheme, er, graduate school!

Even if students did want to know, job-placement information would be hard to get. Most academic departments in the arts and sciences at universities nationwide don't share those data with students, because they don't keep close track of their Ph.D. graduates. Since prospective students don't demand it, departments don't collect it. And in this vacuum, some departments say they are reluctant to be the first to put their records out there, because they don't know how they would compare. The National Research Council wanted to use job-placement data in its latest rankings of doctoral programs but abandoned the idea when it realized universities didn't have the numbers.
"Program by program, the placement data provided over the last couple of years have been pretty pathetic," says Peter Conn, an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a former interim provost there. "It is not in the graduate faculty's interest to advertise the very, very mediocre results we have been having in Ph.D. programs, particularly as opposed to professional schools. Faculty like teaching graduate students more than they like teaching undergraduates, and graduate students provide them with participants for their seminar classes."
That sentence about faculty preferring to teach graduate students more than undergrads is one hell of an understatement in the report from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  That preference, and a "status" that goes with grad programs, is also why even our university has grad programs in a few fields.  It is a shame that we continue with such schemes :(

And how about this:
Even academic departments that are ahead of the curve in providing information do not always disclose everything that prospective students might want to know. Because it doesn't want to embarrass anyone, Michigan's English department does not publish information about graduates who don't get jobs. And, like most academic departments, it doesn't say how many students drop out before earning their Ph.D.'s.
Ah, yes, higher education is all about the pursuit of truth!

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