All we’re saying is give Peace (Corps) a chance

January 22, 2009

New statistics released by the Peace Corps about the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities show that the number of Georgetown graduates participating in the program has steadily decreased since 2005.

With 35 Georgetown alumni in the Peace Corps in 2009, Georgetown ranks as the ninth-highest volunteer-producing school among medium-sized colleges and universities (those with between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduate students). However, that number pales in comparison to the 67 Georgetown graduates that participated in the program in 2005, when Georgetown was ranked second in its size bracket.

“It’s unfortunate because I think that the Peace Corps is such a nice and natural fit for Georgetown graduates,” Stephen Chapman, Peace Corps’ Public Affairs Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Recruiting Office, said. “I can tell you the caliber of students we get from [Georgetown] is excellent … [W]e’re going to have to work harder to explain the benefits to Georgetown students and recruit them.”

Georgetown was joined in the top ten medium-sized schools by both George Washington University and American University, which ranked first and third, respectively. Chapman said he thinks the participation rates of local universities are so high because many students who are interested in international careers are attracted by the programs offered and opportunities afforded by D.C. universities.

University Communications Director Julie Green-Bataille said that increased competition from similar organizations might explain the decrease in Georgetown graduates working for the Peace Corps.

“There are more options now for students interested in this kind of work—things like Teach for America, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, et cetera,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Chapman says that schools’ participation can trend upward or downward without a clear explanation, pointing to GWU and AU as two schools that have been trending towards more participation lately.

Bataille also pointed out that with 7,038 undergraduate students, Georgetown is on the small-end of its category, being compared to schools with up to 15,000 students. Adjusted for the actual number of undergraduate students at each of the schools in the medium-sized category, Georgetown ranks fourth.

Chapman said he hopes that with President Barack Obama’s recent call for increased public service, more Georgetown graduates will be attracted to the Peace Corps.

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