Thursday, August 20, 2009

Geo Departments Recruit More Local Students Than Others

From AGI Geocurrent Magazine a survey that shows that undergraduate geology department in the U.S. recruit slightly more local students than other departments.
Percentage of students with Bachelors Degrees that graduated from High Schools in the same region (2003)

Any ideas about this pattern of recruitment? Could the difference be attributable to those high school students who got interested in geology by observing the rocks /fossils/ features around them and wanted to take advantage of local expertise to further their interests? Geology perhaps more than other fields does lend itself to such a regional influence although it would be interesting to see if this effect disappears at the graduate level. And what about the variations across country in the pattern?
There are geobloggers and readers with far greater experience in dealing with student enrollment patterns in the U.S. than me , so I am hoping to hear from them.


  1. I suspect there are a lot of factors in play here. For one thing, the proportion of students who come from a particular region is different for different types of institutions. Because state colleges and universities offer lower tuition for in-state students, most of their students come from within that state. The pattern for private schools is different - there's no tuition advantage for students who come from the same area, and there may be an admissions advantage to being from a far-away place. (The elite private schools pride themselves in attracting students from all states.) The Northeast has a lot of private colleges compared to most other regions of the country; I imagine that the lower "local" numbers reflects that.

    As for differences between geoscience majors and the entire student body - well, one possibility is that it reflects differences between the public and private institutions in an area. (Do the private institutions in the South tend to lack geology departments, while the public institutions have them?) Alternatively, it could be related to the place-based nature of much geology education. Geology classes go outside in the local area. For students who consider the place "home," that may create an attraction that students from far-away places don't experience.

    I doubt that there's a relationship between high school classes and geology majors, simply because many states (including big ones like Texas and California) don't have many high school geology classes.

    I wonder if the geology recruitment in the South is due to the oil industry (especially in Texas and Oklahoma). The data is from 2003, though, so maybe not.

  2. those are great insights Kim.
    I am beginning to like the survey's Geoscience Currents is putting up. I am learning a lot from these discussions.