The Invisible Adjunct has a fascinating discussion ongoing about an article that shows 1 of 5 entering history grad students come out with a tenure-track job (just the sort of article, by the way, that will have my parents throwing themselves in front of trucks, even though the odds of someone who’s been through grad school and has Ph.D.-in-hand getting one are much, much better).
Do grad students get properly warned of this at the outset? I don’t know. Certainly one of my more vivid memories of my first seminar was a professor telling us to look at the person to our left and the person to our right and ourselves, and realize that only one of us was going to last. In the case of my incoming class, the attrition was even more pronounced; of the dozen or so students in my 1998 incoming class, one colleague and I are ABD and one other colleague was attending another institution, last I heard; the rest have disappeared, without even an M.A. between them.