On campus beat: Gloom and doom for grad students?
- Article by: Maura Lerner
- January 1, 2014 - 7:08 PM
If you’re thinking about going to grad school, you may not want to read this.
These days, there’s plenty of gloom and doom about the prospects for a career in academia. And a vibrant debate online about whether it’s really worth the time, effort and expense to get a graduate degree.
Which brings me to a blog I recently stumbled across: “100 Reasons NOT to go to Graduate School.”
It was created, anonymously, by an obviously jaded soul who, I’m guessing, sorely regretted his or her decision to pursue a doctorate in … something.
The blog is clearly a work in progress — it was started in 2010, and so far there are only 91 reasons, which have slowly accumulated ever since.
The latest, posted in September, is: “Downward mobility is the norm.”
“If you go to graduate school,” it reads, “it is quite possible that you will experience this kind of economic downward mobility.”
For generations, professors have had an enviable place in society. They could earn a healthy, if not extravagant, living by pursuing knowledge and sharing it with others, and still get summers off.
Today, not so much, the blog argues. “Because of the enormous oversupply of Ph.D.s (see Reason 55), people who once envisioned themselves lecturing in front of classrooms are being squeezed into teaching jobs in which much (if not all) of the ‘teaching’ involves sitting at a computer,” it says. “Even those jobs are scarce, and may become scarcer in the future.”
Also: It is stressful (68). It is lonely (69). And grading essays is miserable (56). “If Dante had been familiar with graduate school, he probably would have added a level of Hell to his Inferno,” it says.
Some complaints are eternal: The politics are vicious (84). Advisers can be tyrants (44). Graduate seminars can be unbearable (21). But then again, “Graduate school is not what it used to be.” (5)
And if you’re still determined to go? Three tips: Stay out of debt. Go to a prestigious school. And finish as quickly as possible.
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