June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.1287.1 - 13.1287.16
Thinking About Graduate School
Less than 18% of graduating engineers in the US go directly full-time to graduate school and very few women and underrepresented minority students go on to graduate school. Our country needs more diverse researchers in engineering, and students do not realize the creative and challenging work that they can obtain with a graduate degree. There are many reasons for the low numbers of graduate students in engineering: a lack of finances, a low graduating GPA, a belief that graduate school is only for those who want to become a professor in a university, a belief that you have to be a super “brain” to go to graduate school, a lack of information on the different types of jobs in industry for those workers with a graduate degree rather than an undergraduate degree, a belief that graduate school is just more undergraduate school except a lot harder, a lack of information and encouragement, and a lack of ever having considered attending graduate school. Many engineering and computer science students focus on graduating from a low-income life to a great job with financial security and freedom at last.
Engineering professors generally do not do a very good job of encouraging engineering and computer science students to consider graduate school. What can be done to get more of these good students into graduate school? Faculty can be encouraged to talk about graduate school in their classes and to their advisees. However, through academic scholarship programs students can learn that most or all of the above objections to going to graduate school are either not true or can be overcome.
This paper will describe the approaches used to inform engineering and computer science students about the advantages of graduate school. These approaches include: hearing graduate students talk about what graduate school is really like; informing students of joint BSE/MS programs; bringing in engineers from industry with advanced degrees, who describe the interesting work they are doing because of their graduate degree; encouraging students on internships to notice what jobs are done by BSE employees and what work is done by employees with a graduate degree; and talking to freshmen and transfer students about graduate school as soon as they matriculate into the Fulton School. The students are also encouraged to do research as an undergraduate which can sometimes lead to a graduate thesis topic. Hearing industry engineers with graduate degrees dispels the myth that a PhD in Engineering is only good for someone in academia.
The methods described in this paper were used to generate a 40% rate for non-transfer engineering and computer science students in an academic scholarship program going into graduate school full-time and over a 30% rate of such transfer students.
For some time, there has been a growing concern about the future of the United States in terms of new discoveries and inventions. One of the people leading this battle cry is Professor Romer,
Anderson-Rowland, M. (2008, June), Thinking About Graduate School Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4383
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