Ever since some unsuspecting college student sent out a Facebook message that he felt an agriculture degree was on the top five list of most useless degrees someone could get in college, a firestorm erupted. Obviously uninformed, to say that his comments touched off overkill in support of agriculture, and college agriculture degrees in particular, would be an understatement. The obvious comeback sent by various electronic forms to a wide audience since then became 'I'm in agriculture, and I have a college degree, and I have a job.'
With that as a backdrop, Purdue University just released information about the placement rate of graduates from the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Earlier at the Purdue Fish Fry, Dean Jay Akridge announced that this year's enrollment at the ag school is one of the biggest ever. The same trend is showing up at other leading landmark ag universities across the country.
According to Marcos Fernandez, associate director and dean of ag programs at Purdue, the placement rate for Purdue ag graduates increased for the second consecutive year. Some 86% of May 2011 graduates found employment, enrolled in graduate schools, or accepted an employed internship as of Feb 1, 2012. That's 336 people who can say, "I have a college agriculture degree, and I have a job."
The placement rate was 85% in 2010 and 83% in 2009.
The survey that produced those numbers also showed that there is a decline in the percentage of Purdue ag graduates still seeking employment on Feb. 1, compared to prior years when the same survey was conducted at a similar time. The number was 15% in the deep part of the recession in 2009, 14% in 2990 and 12% for 2011. About 2% of the May 2011 graduates are not seeking jobs at this time.
Perhaps also a reflection of the economy and the rollercoaster ride over the past several years, the percentage of students continuing graduate studies increased during 2009. Some 22% were going on to further study of 2010 graduates, compared to 28% in 2009. For the 2011 graduating class, 23% are pursuing a higher degree.