chronicle on attrition in grad school… or is it?

is this article on attrition in graduate school or is it a subtle argument for removing money from graduate education?

He also calculated that Notre Dame would save $1-million a year in stipends alone if attrition went down by 10 percent, because programs would not over-enroll students to compensate for attrition. “We don't mind spending if there's a product at the end,” he says.

why is science the model of goodness here?

“One reason the sciences have lower attrition rates is that you are admitted to be in the Joe Schmoe lab,” she says. You and Professor Schmoe “have spent some time getting to know each other and vet each other.” That's quite different, she says, from a student who plans to study international labor economics but, after doing years of course work, realizes that there is no one in the department for him to work with

i posit that the key to the lab experience is not the doctor, but the logical outcomes of expected labor. in good labs, people have a path, it is clear, and they can work it. this is not always true in all labs, nor is it always true in any discipline, but by combining that with the likelihood that there are graduate student mentors in your lab that you can model, things get 'easier'.

Ms. Golde emphasizes that this is another way that the sciences are structured differently from the humanities. In a science department, students are in the lab from the start, working next to undergraduates, researchers, and professors. In English, on the other hand, the first couple of years of graduate school are taken up mostly with classes. “It's just like being a supercharged English undergraduate,” she says. “It's not anything like being an English professor.”

nor should it be, just like a science or engineering graduate student might be not like a professor, but more like a laboratory assistant.

it is entirely unclear to me what the problem with attrition is other than money… at least from the institutions view, from the view of faculty and student, there is alot of emotional investment, but i'm not sure the arguments made in the article really hold water at all.

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