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FIGURE TS-1C Number of first-year S&E graduate enrollments, by field, 1985-2001.

SOURCE: Data on first-year graduates are from National Science Foundation. Survey of Graduate Student and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering. NSF 03-320. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2003.

fields. Some researchers argue that a key factor in stemming attrition is feeling connected to the intellectual and social life of the college.11 Another researcher writes of three types of university cultures—the elite (scientific excellence), the pluralist (research, teaching, and service), and the communitarian (citizenship)—each carrying its own set of values and signals, some of which are competing.12 Departments, colleges and universities, and professional societies each have a role in providing a high-quality, engaging learning environment.

After a student’s determination of an undergraduate major or concentration, another key transition point is a decision to enter and complete graduate training.13 Major factors to consider include time to degree and economics.14 Unclear job prospects and lost earning potential are major


V. Tinto. Leaving College: Rethinking the CaUSes and Curses of Student Attrition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993; J. M. Braxton. Reworking the Student Departure Puzzle. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2000.


M. F. Fox and P. Stephan. “Careers of Young Scientists: Preferences, Prospects, and Reality by Gender and Field.” Social Studies of Science 31(2001):109-122.


A. Lu. The Decision Cycle for People Going to Graduate School. Stamford, CT: Peterson’s Thomson Learning, 2002.


NAS/NAE/IOM. Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1995.

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