Why would-be engineers end up as English majors (CNN)


by Assia Boundaoui, CNN

Segment examines the crisis in US public education system and why America’s financial future is at risk if its students can’t excel at math and science.

“Undergraduates across the country are choosing to leave science, technology, engineering and math programs before they graduate with those degrees. Many students in those STEM fields struggle to complete their degrees in four years, or drop out.”

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/17/education.stem.graduation/index.html

2 thoughts on “Why would-be engineers end up as English majors (CNN)

  1. The research brief cited in the CNN report has generated a lot of discussion in the MIDFIELD office, since we do quite a bit of research on this sort of thing. Here is what we know so far:

    The 5-year completion rate they mentioned for liberal arts is much higher than we are used to seeing. They are not very specific about their methodology, but it seems that 73% and 63% rates are for students who completed a degree at any school in the National Student Clearinghouse, not just the institution they started at. This high rate may also have to do with the institutions they sampled (see #2)

    Their sample may be biased; out of the 326 schools that were used, only 33 were public universities, and less than a quarter are classified as research universities by the Carnegie system. The rest are private and/or religious colleges. Also, we haven’t looked up every institution, but it looks like Purdue is by far the largest school in their sample.

    5-year completion rate is a non-standard metric, and it is especially detrimental to engineers, as the average time to graduation is more than 5 years, due both to curriculum requirements and to participation in co-op programs that may extend their calendar time to graduation

    In MIDFIELD, students who matriculate in engineering have the highest 6-year completion rate, 68%. Students who come in as “undecided” have the lowest rate, 54%

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    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your comments.

      At UPRM, the average engineering completion rate is about 85% in an average of 6.5 years – not bad for a 5 year curriculum in a 4500 engineerinc college in which almost 20% of students doing internships and coops each year.

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