How Long Is Placement Data Useful?




Schools make placement records publicly available for many years after a student has graduated. In my research, I have seen information about past graduates going back as far as 1920! However, such information will hardly be useful to any prospective students wanting to get a sense for how a school is currently placing students. But there is a definite tension here.

If we include too much placement data into our dataset, then we will have a hard time seeing new developments and trends in a school’s placement. For example, a PhD program may have hired the best faculty available (or it may have lost great faculty) in the past 5 years, and so its placement record should be really great (or really decline) from those years forward. However, if we include placement data from 10 to 15 years ago, the school’s record will look worse (or a lot better) than what is actually relevant for that prospective student.

On the other hand, it takes time for students to settle into a long term position. The results of an initial placement are immediate, though to see a good representation of a school’s immediate placement, several years will be required at least to get a good sample. Current placements are not immediate, and sometimes a school’s current placement record will not really show fruit for perhaps 5 to 7 years after a student has graduated (after doing post-docs and gaining teaching experience through temporary positions).

What is the right balance? In general, how long is a school’s placement data relevant and useful for prospective students? Let us know what you think by selecting the answer you most agree with. Thanks![usercontrol: ~/user controls/poll.ascx PollId= 640b4b85-d194-4628-897b-36fc0b0c5941]





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