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Asking About Placement Rates


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Any thoughts/tips on how to inquire about placement rates and positions for recent grads from a program? I've seen a few departments include some information about recent placements on their websites, but even that doesn't necessarily reflect the percentage very accurately. I feel a bit awkward asking a DGS the question but I also consider it quite important in making the decision between schools to get a clear picture of how the program is viewed on the job market. 

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I plan to talk about this with the DGS on my upcoming visits, and for some programs I’ve already emailed and asked POI or directors. Nobody seemed to deflect the question, though many said “not everyone has wanted to continue in academia” to explain lower rates (which was sort of a red flag for me, but for those who aren’t sure about academia it could be a good thing). Schools do have this data available in some form or another, usually, and I think they expect you to ask because I’ve even had some directors volunteer this information when I inquired about their programs as a prospective applicant. 

If you’ve already been admitted, I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary at all to ask what alumni are doing, and placement rates are a kind of implied part of this question. It’s super awkward but I don’t know if there’s a way around it, just like negotiating offers. 

Also, it may make it seem less “superficial” if you preface it by saying something like “I know placement rates are measured differently from institution to institution, but could you qualitatively assess job-search success for recent graduates?” And then maybe asking current students how prepared they feel for MLA, and/or how supportive the department is in their job-search, would indicate to folks that you’re thinking about placement as one of numerous important factors in your decision making process. 

Sorry if this isn’t helpful at all but hopefully it helps normalise the question (?). I think we really shouldn’t be afraid of asking it because it’s our futures we’re looking out for.

Edited by swarthmawr
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