Tuesday, February 3, 2009

-Retention rates

In my department there is a group of "elected" students who form part of a professor-student committee in charge of discussing and providing a student's viewpoint in graduate students issues, ranging from TA/RA salaries, qualifying procedures, coursework and syllabi, etc.

A few days ago I had a conversation about retention rates with 3 students from this committee. I am a second year (at this univ) and they are third or higher year students, so it is possible their "data" is better than mine. Nonetheless, from what I can see, the dropout rate is no more than 10-20% per year (which translates to about 3-6 students in a typical 30 students class). So far, nobody from my class has left but since we are only second year, very few, if any have taken the quals. It is possible that some will not make it, but again, I would guess that the number is 10-20%.

I should mention that from the people I know left the program (only 3), only one of them did so due to low grades/performance. The rest left for one or a combination of personal reasons such as financial issues, realization that being a PhD is not really what they wanted, marriage, the arrival of a baby, etc.

But my perceived dropout rate seems to be low according to the students in the committee who claim it is closer to 50%. I seriously doubt that half of my class will not finish, and I doubt even more that those who do dropout will do it because of academic underperformance.

I am now curious about the actual rate and I will be asking the department for some numbers, but I would like to know how bad/good it is at your university/department.

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