Thursday, February 18, 2010

Truth in advertising in academe

I do not normally repeat blog items from elsewhere, but today my NC State colleague Craig Newmark links to a must-read piece for all would-be humanities PhDs from the Chronicle of Higher Education concerning the woeful job market these students will face upon graduation. Although I deal with many reporting requirements and regulations as associate dean (our b-school gets an accreditation visit next week), this recommendation needs further airing:

there is still almost no way—apart from the rumor mill to which they do not really have access—for students to gather some of the most crucial information about graduate programs: the rate of attrition, the average amount of debt at graduation, and, most important, the placement of graduates (differentiating between adjunct, lecturer, visiting, tenure-track positions, and nonacademic positions). Programs often claim that graduates who are working as adjuncts or visiting faculty members are successfully placed in the profession.

Most departments will never willingly provide that information because it is radically against their interest to do so. I can see no way for that information to become available unless it becomes part of accreditation or rankings in publications such as U.S. News and World Report.

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