What Type of Initial Placement Position is Most Valuable?

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I have had several comments regarding this article about how to rank schools based on placement. Here seems to be the breakdown:

For those who think going to a prestigious school is most important, they would probably consider a post-doc or lecturing position at a great school to be preferable to a permanent or tenure track position as a poor school. For example,

  • “[M]any students interested in placement are interested in the quality of the jobs, as well as the tenure-stream status. Your way of ‘ranking’ the schools erases the distinction between placement at a 4/4 school with mediocre students and a placement at Princeton (not to mention all the gradations in between)…”
  • “Giving preference, as you do, to immediate placement in permanent/TT positions has the result that schools which place some of their folks in competitive postdocs will be penalized on your ranking system. But they arguably shouldn’t be since such postdocs give one a competitive edge on the job market (particularly with respect to the most desirable TT jobs).”
  • “Of course it’s great to know that Northwestern and Hopkins can get graduates tenure track jobs somewhere, but most applicants would like to have a sense of the chances that schools like UChicago, Columbia, Yale, or Notre Dame would get them tenure track in a top-20 department.”

On the other hand, there are those (like me), who are most concerned about just getting a tenure-track position, somewhere, anywhere. As one of my friends put it, “most of the philosophy students I know have kind of given up on the prestigious/non-prestigious job distinction… The real concern seems to be avoiding adjunct hell and having a stable position, not prestige.”

As I don’t wish to speak for everyone, I’d like to ask you: what should be given priority in ranking a school based on placement? The prestige of the school that the student secures a job at (regardless of whether it is a post-doc, lecturer/temporary position, or tenure track), or the type of placement that a student receives (regardless of the prestige of the school)?

How does one compare a post-doc at a great school compared with a lecturer at a mediocre school compared with a tenure track position at a poor school? Which is preferable?

Please answer the survey and offer any comments below. I will use the feedback in developing a formula that will rank schools with more nuance. Thanks!

Please select the answer below which you believe to be the best initial placement offer in each instance in comparison with the alternative.[usercontrol: ~/user controls/poll.ascx PollId= 1be14503-ebff-48c5-952c-90aabcbe0aa3]

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