GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 73-8
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


HALLOCK, Pamela, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Over past 35 years, my graduate students have produced 47 master’s theses and 27 doctoral dissertations. About 70% are women and 15% from under-represented groups. Of seven minority master’s students, five later earned PhDs. About half overall came directly from undergraduate programs, the others from a variety of backgrounds. About 20% had families or careers before pursuing graduate degrees, and ~25% were parents. My first PhD student was the first in his family to finish high school.

How did I recruit this diversity of students? When I was a master’s student at a second-tier university, a professor told me that an applicant should show promise in at least two of these categories: previous courses and grades, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, or pertinent experience. Later, as a faculty member recruiting graduate students, I searched applicant files for those criteria. To succeed in my unit’s interdisciplinary core curriculum, an applicant had to have courses in calculus, physics and chemistry. The preferred minimum-combined GRE score was 1100 (~148 quantitative and 153 verbal by the current scoring formula). Students succeeding in both coursework and research tended to be the “solid 1200s”, typically ~600−700 quantitative and ~500−600 verbal scores. A few of my graduates scored somewhat lower, but came highly recommended; students with very high GRE scores often posed unique challenges. With many faculty now concerned about grade inflation, and recent studies questioning GRE scores as discriminatory, some colleagues contend that recommendations from trusted friends are the best recruitment strategy. Having been an economically disadvantaged, pre-Title IX female student, when colleague networks were the key to many graduate programs, I am skeptical about returning to that strategy. To ensure diversity, I recommend requiring and evaluating, at minimum, courses, grades, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and other pertinent experience.