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STANFORD -- Recruiting at Stanford University's Career Planning and Placement Center was up 30 percent last fall over the previous year, with on-campus interview schedules full and the cancellation rate low, according to director Ruth Schneider.
"Although we added an extra week of recruiting, that alone would not explain the increase in volume," she said. "It's definitely a busy year."
Yet despite the improving economic picture, students are still uncertain about their futures, according to a recent placement center survey.
The poll tallied the responses of 1,229 students who were awarded bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in the schools of Earth Sciences, Education, Engineering or Humanities and Sciences during the 1992-93 academic year.
Forty-seven percent of the responding seniors said they planned to go to work full time immediately after graduation - compared with about 57 percent in 1988, during the 1980s job boom.
Nearly 40 percent of the responding seniors said they planned to go immediately to graduate school, a percentage "higher than I expected," Schneider said in a recent interview with the Stanford News Service (see Q &A, pages 4-5).
Of those seniors who had been accepted to graduate school, a third said they were planning to pursue a master's degree, 29 percent were going to medical school, and 19 percent were going to law school.
Eighteen percent were going to pursue a Ph.D., and 1 percent were headed straight for business school (students are strongly encouraged to work for one or two years before applying to an MBA program).
The remaining 13 percent of graduating seniors had other plans, including part-time or temporary work, travel, internships or fellowships, and voluntary service.
"I think there's a very different mindset in students between now and five years ago," Schneider said.
"For the student who graduated from here five years ago, we hadn't started a recession yet, and the students who graduated last year were the first ones who had heard the 'R' word for four years. There's much more concern about what they are going to do."
When asked about the factors influencing their decision to attend graduate school, three-quarters of the seniors checked "intellectual pursuits and academia." Half checked "necessary professional preparation, and a quarter said "additional professional preparation."
Parental/family influence was identified by 18 percent of the respondents. About 5 percent said they wanted to attend graduate school to defer loans, and 4 percent of the students said they couldn't find a job.
Of those who did find employment, engineering graduates had the best average starting salary offers - $38,000 for bachelor's recipients, $45,000 for master's recipients, and $54,000 for Ph.D. recipients.
Humanities and Sciences bachelor's recipients had average offers of $28,000, master's recipients were offered an average of $36,300, and Ph.D.s an average of $39,000.
Education master's students received average offers of $30,000, while those earning education doctorates averaged $47,000.
Schneider said management consulting and investment banking continue to be hot fields for Stanford graduates. Indeed, a recent McKinsey and Co. workshop drew some 325 students - about three times more than expected.
Public service career specialist Anne Greenblatt also sees greater numbers of seniors interested in health policy, and in international careers, particularly in Latin America and the European Economic Community.
"An enormous number of students have gone to Eastern European countries in the last few years, either for summer experiences or after graduating," she added. "The substantive opportunities to make a genuine difference there, combined with a lower cost of living, have made it very attractive to students."
About 70 percent of the students responding to the survey said they had used the services of the Career Planning and Placement Center during the 1992-93 academic year.
The center's most heavily used services included staff- designed handouts and employer literature, followed by on-campus recruiting, the career center library, the annual career fair, individual counseling and the reference file service.
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