Dear Admitted Aggie PETE Applicant,
The Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University, is pleased that you applied and were admitted to our top ranked petroleum engineering program. If you pursue a degree in petroleum engineering, our program is committed to providing the highest quality education available.
Recent data suggests that some concern about the sustainability of the entry level job market during a time of explosive growth in the number of students studying petroleum engineering in U.S. universities may be prudent.
Our advice is that you become aware of graduation projections and petroleum industry employment outlook for people with petroleum engineering degrees. For example, between fall 2011 and fall 2012, the number of freshmen in petroleum engineering programs in the U.S. increased from 1,388 to 2,153, a 55% jump in one year. Based on the many inquiries and applications TAMU is receiving for the petroleum engineering major, the number of U.S. students in petroleum engineering will probably continue a strong upward trend, as long as the employment market remains stable. These days, a very large number of people are already studying in petroleum engineering programs (see attachment, showing data made available through the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE), at a time when: the number of recent graduates, who began their studies several years ago, is already at about historical highs and growing rapidly (see attachment); our program’s board of industry advisors are recommending that we “do not grow” our undergraduate program at this time; and oil and natural gas price projections and expectations of U.S. governmental policy influences are viewed as not particularly encouraging by the U.S. petroleum industry.
We are not trying to discourage you from a career that we think is among the most fascinating, dynamic, challenging careers that exist. However, we also want you to know that the Aggie PETE program is doing the right thing by providing you with information that could end up being important to your future.First, does anyone know if this letter is actually true? It's found in a number of places online, but it all leads back to the blog "Cost of College." I suspect that it IS true, in the sense that if someone was e-mailing around a false letter from a Texas A&M department, they'd be quick to respond and deny authorship.
UPDATE: I have confirmed the provenance of the e-mail with Professor Dan Hill, Department Head of TAMU petroleum engineering.
That said, I think this is a fascinating look at how an academic department might go about expressing its concerns to potential students:
- They comment on their own internal statistics, regarding admissions.
- They look at professional society data.
- They talk about their board of industry advisors, and their negative recommendations regarding growing their program.*
- They look at future projections on their core commodities.
*It should be noted that there is a potential conflict of interest here, in that it is in the interests of current employees to limit the number of future employees.