In the middle of the Scott Kern thread (50+ comments and counting!), a discussion about the difference between M.S. and Ph.D. scientists broke out. While I don't wish to relitigate the issue, it touches tangentially on something that I've been wondering for a while: how does a young grad student know 1) if he or she should get a Ph.D. and 2) if (s)he gets a Ph.D., how do they know if they will get a job?
Allow me to go on a tangent for a bit: the NFL draws most of its players from college football. If a college football player enters the draft, that player is no longer eligible to play in college. Faced with such an irreversible decision, the NFL has instituted the Draft Advisory Board, which can advise a college football player if the player will or will not be drafted and where he will go in the draft. While the recommendations of the board can be ignored by the player, the board has apparently proven to be fairly accurate.
Why isn't there a similar board run by ACS? The decision to get a Ph.D. is more or less equally irreversible. You could get somewhat senior people from industry (group-leader level) and having them anonymously review (anonymous?) CVs and research summaries. They would answer one question only: how does the student's credentials compare to that of recently hired employees? You could imagine any number of possible recommendation rubrics, but I'd go with: not likely to be hired / average candidate / above-average candidate.
This is something that you'd think would be good: students can't really rely on their peers for such recommendations. While faculty members are going to be fairly accurate at their guesses, there's conflict-of-interest and privacy issues that might push a student to want a 2nd (or 3rd) opinion. While I'm not entirely convinced* of the "Ph.D. glut" theory, this board might be a way of alleviating that problem, too.
Readers, what do you think? Tell me how wrong I am, please.
*Meaning that I haven't looked at the data and/or given it enough thought to have a real opinion.