In February, 2012 and April, 2013, AGI’s Workforce Program sent brochures about geoscience careers to approximately 18,000 high school students who scored well on the SAT and indicated intent to pursue a STEM degree. Students’ test scores ranged from 520 to 800 for Critical Reading and Writing, and from 530 to 800 for Math. Currents #74 examines some of the dynamics of these student populations.
Community colleges are a key part of many four-year university students' post-secondary education pathways. According to AGI's 2011 Status of the Geoscience Workforce report, within the science and engineering disciplines, 67% of Bachelor's degree recipients, 58% of Master's degree recipients and 44% of Doctorates attended community college. Furthermore, within the geosciences, 52% of Bachelor's degree recipients, 40% of Master's degree recipients, and 21% of Doctorates attended community colleges.
During the 2009-2010 academic year, the number of geoscience undergraduates enrolled in U.S. institutions has continued to increase sharply, hitting its highest levels in a decade at 23,983 majors. This is a 7% increase over 2008-2009 enrollments, and a 24.8% increase since the 2006-2007 academic year. For the rst time in 5 years, graduate geoscience enrollments increased, jumping 15.7% from the prior academic year.
A common assertion is that the number of geoscience degrees granted is dependent on the price of oil. However, this metric requires a response lag greater than oil price change velocity. A more responsive mechanism would likely be the rate of degree completion – that students would be incentivized to complete their geoscience degree by improved economic prospects.
AGI’s National Geoscience Student Exit Survey was developed to ascertain from geoscience degree recipients the relevant experiences in school and their immediate career plans upon graduation. In April 2012, AGI distributed the second pilot of this survey to geoscience departments willing to participate and received 294 full responses from 45 different departments. This Currents examines the results from two of the questions which inquire about the decision points for successful graduates pursuing a degree in the geosciences.