Where do PhD’s get their start? (You know where this is headed…)

Lynn O’Shaughnessy, college expert, higher-ed journalist, and best-selling author of The College Solution, posed and answered that question in her blog today. Her post caught our attention, as most things do when they start like this. (Not that most things start like this.)

What schools produce the most undergraduates who end up heading off to graduate school?

The subject came up yesterday because a friend of mine was telling me about a brilliant teenager who wants to eventually get a PhD in physics. The student lives in California, but the mom wants him to apply to schools in the Midwest where she grew up.

I asked my friend if the teenager had checked out Lawrence University. [Editor’s note: Hooray!]


I realize that might be your reaction, but here’s the thing – many of the schools that are feeder institutions for the nation’s PhD programs are liberal arts colleges. While most liberal arts colleges are not well-known among families with teenagers, these institutions — and their reputations — are very well known to graduate schools. Lawrence University, a liberal arts college Appleton, WI, for instance, happens to be 10th on the list among all four-year colleges and universities that produce, per capita, the most physics PhDs.

For obvious reasons, we encourage you to read more of Lynn’s post here.

Our friends at Colleges That Change Lives [@CTCLColleges] retweeted the post with an apt summary: “Worrying about college outcomes? Start at PhD and work backward to the start.”

Good suggestion.

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