I was reading through articles on Inside Higher Ed this week trying to find inspiration for my last freelance blog post for this class. On a random article that wasn’t doing it for me, I decided to look at the comments. I never look at the comments on any other websites, just so I don’t have to see the internet trolling that goes on only to get under people’s skin. But today, I went out of my routine because I thought that this highly specific web page about higher education in the United States would be without trolls. Boy was I wrong. Check out this comment, not for how it responds to the article, but particularly the second paragraph to the end.
Is this really the perception of graduate students? That we are gambling on graduate or professional school, but we are still struggling to land on our feet with a job?
I found the numbers, Unemployed_Northeastern, (http://www.naceweb.org/job-market/graduate-outcomes/first-destination/class-of-2016). NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, collects and put out the trends for graduating class across the United States. The graduate outcomes for the Class of 2016 in very small college, which includes Colby College, has 57% of the graduating class obtaining full-time employment within six months, and only 17% continuing their education into Masters or PhD programs. This is a far cry from he 90% going into continuing education in the comment. Individual colleges like Colby or Swarthmore may have higher percentages going into programs, but that is because these institutions are more selective on the student caliber and those types of students tend to want the more advanced degrees. So, as a student from a small college obtaining my PhD, I find this comment annoying. Obtaining my PhD has been my goal from high school. The job market in my field, life sciences, repeatedly only has 2-3% of PhD awardees unemployed every year. (EDUCATING THE NEXT GENERATION OF CALIFORNIANS IN A RESEARCH UNIVERSITY CONTEXT put out by the University of California system)
Maybe my graduate school training is showing, but I prefer to have data and references when I try to downplay college and advanced degree graduates. But, what about you? Do you know the potential job market in your field? Do you know you have to find a post-doc position, or will you already line up a job before defending your thesis?