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Minerva1917

Is a school's placement record important?

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Hey everyone! I could really use your help:

I'm trying to decide on an English or Comparative Literature program and am curious as to whether any of you think that placement records are an important factor in deciding? If so, how do you determine what a good placement record is? 

Thirdly, why are some schools better at placing students than others? I'm finding this very confusing because strong placement records sometimes don't correspond to the school's level of prestige. For example, I noticed that at Brown's English department, only 7% of graduates in the last 4 years got tenure-track jobs. And at Rutgers, 68% of graduates went on to secure tenure-track jobs. 

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I think there were very many good points and discussion in a recent similar thread that might be helpful to you:

The quick answer to your questions:

1. Yes, you should ensure the program you are entering does produce students who can reach the career path you want

2. It is hard to determine a "good" placement record. See thread linked. 

3. I think these numbers are very misleading. I strongly do not recommend comparing the percentages because they are often not accurate (see linked thread). I'd focus more on whether there is an established history of graduates going onto the career path you want, instead of "what fraction of graduates go onto the career path you want".

As for why some schools are better at placing students than others:

- Generally, there is a correlation between school rank and academic positions for their graduates (some of it is because the best students go to the best schools, but also that the best schools may have more resources and such to enable these great students to be the best they can be)

- Some subfields in your field may be more popular than others at any given point in history, so departments that specialized in that subfield may produce more students in academic positions

- Luck / randomness

 

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6 hours ago, Minerva1917 said:

Thirdly, why are some schools better at placing students than others? I'm finding this very confusing because strong placement records sometimes don't correspond to the school's level of prestige. For example, I noticed that at Brown's English department, only 7% of graduates in the last 4 years got tenure-track jobs. And at Rutgers, 68% of graduates went on to secure tenure-track jobs. 

Some of it might depend on the type of employment people are seeking. Are they willing to be on the tenure-track at an R2 or SLAC? Are they seeking employment outside academia? Might there be other factors (e.g., two-body problem; children; etc.)? If they're holding out for R1 jobs, then that might contribute to the low rate though.

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