Educational Attainment, Agricultural Jobs and Income among Alumni from Historically Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND. Little is known about educational attainment, agricultural jobs and income among graduates from Historically Black Land-Grant College and Universities. In this study, we examined the impact of educational attainment on type of jobs among former students and determine if controlling for income, educational attainment has a positive impact on the type jobs after graduation.

METHODS. Data are from a study of graduates from three Historically Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities in Alabama and Tennessee. The questionnaire included questions on educational attainment, career mobility, college curriculum competencies and skill, opinions about agricultural careers, actual salaries, fringe benefits, and other personal characteristics. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square statistics were used for the analysis.

RESULTS. The higher the level of education, the greater the tendency for these college of agriculture graduates to remain in agriculture-related careers. To these former students, the extent to which the work is intellectually satisfying appears to be more important than the income it yields.

CONCLUSIONS. Graduate related work associated with an advanced degree is highly satisfying even within low incomes.


The purpose of this paper was to assess the impact of educational attainment on agriculture-related jobs held by former African American students trained in colleges of agriculture at Historically Black Land-Grant College and Universities. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that, controlling for income, the level of educational attainment will has a positive impact on the type jobs after graduation.

Despite a number of studies that have examined the aspirations and expectations of African American agricultural students in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Lyson, 1979; Molnar & Dunkelberger 1981; Molnar, Dunkelberger & Salter, 1981), there is much about actual career outcome of African American colleges of agriculture graduates from the south that is not fully understood. The number of research and policy analyses focusing on African American agricultural graduates has been limited. Past research efforts had limited scopes regarding explanations of African American student compensation after college (Zekeri 1994). To a significant degree, the debate regarding the explanation of agricultural alumni career outcome and income have focused on white agricultural students (Molnar & Dunkelberger 1981; Molnar, Dunkelberger & Salter, 1981). Therefore, determining factors that influence occupational attainment and employment compensations among African American students after college is a worthy enterprise, especially for increasing our understanding of African Americans' success in their careers. To this end, the present study extends the existing body of agricultural student research by utilizing longitudinal rather than cross-sectional data to assess differences in educational attainment and full-time jobs of alumni after leaving college.


Data for this analysis were drawn from a panel study of students from land-grant universities in the south. The study started in the spring of 1977 with 1,382 African American students of 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities who responded to self-administered questionnaires dealing with their aspirations, family backgrounds, and expectations. Through the years, intermittent contact was maintained with 275 of these students from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tennessee State University, and Tuskegee University for whom current addresses and places of work could be obtained from the university placement offices, parents and other alumni. Three waves of questionnaires, explanatory cover letters, return self-addressed envelope, interspersed with two postcard reminders were sent to these former students who were involved in the earlier study (Zekeri 1994; Zekeri and Wheelock 1995). …