Education

Education's Doing Me In

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An English professor offers advice to young scholars in the humanities: For the love of God, stay out of graduate school.

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  1. And now I’ve gotta go back to community college to study something technical. FWIW, I’m kind of glad I didn’t pursue my Master’s yet. But with the rising college costs I might…never

  2. Awww.

    Poor academics, no one to hand them a living!
    The salty tears are wrecking my shoeshine here.

    My observation: this is a bunch that might fare better in the real world if they had some manners. All too often, the pride of America’s universities come across as though they think everyone else but them is an imbecile, a lesser being. From the extreme examples, arrogance and conceit- and yes, hostility- radiate like heat from a stove.

    Unfortunately, all too often the worst cases are the ones with tenure, serially infecting the young.

    What is tenure but welfare with a tie on? Get rid of it. And them.

  3. this is a bunch that might fare better in the real world if they had some manners. …they think everyone else but them is an imbecile, a lesser being. From the extreme examples, arrogance and conceit- and yes, hostility- radiate like heat from a stove.

    Did this really come from someone with “attorney” right there in his URL?

    I suggest a no-holds-barred smackdown of the stereotypical condescenders. Though even if the PhDs win, there will be hell to pay in the inevitable civil suit that follows.

  4. Holy crap! I just followed your link and take back any implication of sleazy lawyerness! Keep up the good work, Mr Owens!

  5. Seems like sound advise to me!

    RT
    http://www.real-privacy.us.tc

  6. When I looked at what my ex-girlfriend went through to get her PhD, and what she’s going through now to get her license (her PhD is in psychology), it makes me cringe. And she’ll at least start making serious money once she gets her guild permission to practice.

    And she had to come here from Barcelona just to get this chance. In Spain, there is nothing. University of Barcelona positions are impossible to get–they go to the most connected.

  7. That thing about the looming wave of retirements is pretty funny. When I wandered into my twenty-fifth (or so) reunion in the mid-‘nineties, I was both astonished and appalled at the number of my professors from the seventies who were still busily ruining the lives of young people.

    As far as I can tell, nobody with tenure retires; they die.

  8. I’ve got to say that I noticed little condescension or arrogance from my professors when I was in undergrad-land.

  9. I’ve got to say that I noticed little condescension or arrogance from my professors when I was in undergrad-land.

    Same experience here.

  10. I am in my early thirties. For at least 10 years I have been hearing about the forthcoming mass exodus of “retirees”, and the ensuing wide open job market. I am still waiting for it.

    That said, I think that technical educations (trades, etc.) are not given enough consideration by many young people.

  11. DrafterMan-

    I don’t think people realize that a 2 year technical degree (electrical/electronics, mechanical, computers and etc.) from a community college is one of the safest bets you can make coming out of high school, or later in life for that matter. It’s relatively cheap and there always seems to be jobs in these fields.

  12. I don’t think people realize that a 2 year technical degree (electrical/electronics, mechanical, computers and etc.) from a community college is one of the safest bets you can make coming out of high school, or later in life for that matter. It’s relatively cheap and there always seems to be jobs in these fields.

    Plus, community college is a huge leg up if you’re going back later for a 4-year.

  13. From my experience, graduate students get all kinds of excited when they get to teach a course. Yes! It’s like their dream is coming true! The reality should set in sometime soon that their compensation is almost nil, and their universities are being paid by them so that they can teach a course. Adjuncts, where I come from, earn somewhere in the $3000 range per class per semester, with few benefits.

    I’m not sure which organization it was, but it was a prominent journal for those in philosophy academia that actually instructed professors giving advice to those considering graduate school that there were entirely too many PHDs in philosophy for everyone to get a job in academia, and that they should only pursue it not expecting to ever get a tenure position. That’s pretty responsible.

  14. Absolutely. I’m approaching completion of a 4 year degree that I’ve been working on part time for years, and they gave me 100% credit for my 2 year degree. I don’t think I would have started the 4 year program if I had to start from scratch.

  15. Disclaimer: I’m a tenure-tracked (but not yet tenured) professor.

    The article contains some sound advice. I did my undergrad in the Humanities, but it was three internships at a tech company and taking CS courses as electives that paid my bills through doc school. And my PhD isn’t in the Humanities, which gives me some more options.

    I don’t understand people who think that grad school will give them any extra money. In only a few select fields (and a few select individuals) will there ever be a return on their investment.

    But there are other reasons for going to grad school. I spent a significant time abroad, I studied several languages, and I worked on some really cool projects. At the end of the my six years, I was far behind many of my peers who went straight into industry, but I’m not sorry for it.

    BTW, doesn’t Nick G. have a PhD in the Humanities? I wonder how he would react to this…

  16. “My observation: this is a bunch that might fare better in the real world if they had some manners.”

    my observation: you’re a blowjob.

  17. This is just a slightly less optimistic version of what my philosophy adviser told me as an undergraduate. He basically said “Yes, these positions exist, and you might find one. You also might end up working at Barnes and Nobles while teaching part-time.”

    I also never had a condescending professor.

  18. Just missed graduating with honors because some little shit of an adjunct said he couldn’t give more than a “C” to someone who included “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” in the bibliography of a paper on the Industrial Revolution.

  19. Okay, maybe one. But I am pretty sure it was in spite of his career choice rather than because of it.

  20. this is a bunch that might fare better in the real world if they had some manners

    You didn’t actually say that on a board where there are many people who are either professors themselves, or have friends and family who are professors, did you?

    Who’s the one who needs some manners?

    Seriously, yeah, there are some real arrogant jerks out there in academia.. and car repair places, and restaurants, and engineering firms, and police stations, and construction companies…

  21. From the article:

    It’s hard to tell young people that universities view their idealism and energy as an exploitable resource

    Yea, save your idealism and energy for exploitation by the Obamasssiah.

  22. What Reinmoose just said.
    It’s true that there are arrogant professors. They often serve on campus-wide committees and union boards. I’ve met a few in my thirty-odd years in academia. I’m meeting with many of them this week on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Council.
    But I’ve also met caring, overworked, underpaid full professors–at many non-major universities full professors make in the $60’s-$80’s. Not great after thirty or forty years of service.
    Not that I’m complaining–being a faculty member has some nice perks, and we normally didn’t go into it for the salary.
    Finally, pretty much everything the article says is right on, as far as I’m concerned–I never suggest to my students that finding a faculty job will be easy, or even worth it. I was lucky, and I know it.

  23. “My observation: this is a bunch that might fare better in the real world if they had some manners.”

    This kind of talk always tickles me: it’s as if the “real world” did not contain things like academic institutions, government agencies, non-profits and such which employ many people. The real world is just for-profit businesses, and every thing else is some figment of some kid’s imagination like that Justice League episode.

    WTF?

    I mean, even if you exclude the state universities, which are “real” enough, there are shitloads of private colleges.

    I chose private industry over college careers, but I think the people that work there do “real enough” and important enough work. You know who else thinks that? The very successful entrepeneurs and businesspersons who cut big fat checks to those places all the time.

  24. I find that higher education is highly regarded by two kinds of people – those selling higher education, and those with a higher education to sell. The rest of us know better, or should.

  25. All too often, the pride of America’s universities come across as though they think everyone else but them is an imbecile, a lesser being. From the extreme examples, arrogance and conceit- and yes, hostility- radiate like heat from a stove.

    Umm, no. This is a ridiculous statement. From someone who has apparently spent very little time with investment bankers, attorneys, politicians’ aides or anyone in the “real” world. I have found most grad students to be pretty self-effacing types – maybe that’s why they don’t get anywhere.

  26. I’m always amused and amazed when I run across someone who thinks $60-80 is anything other than a respectable salary. I’m even more amazed when the salary in question is paid to people who get to do what they love for a living.
    FOAD, is all I can say.

  27. Ah yes, the humanities PhD’s…..

    Yes, I’d like fries with that burger.

    Engineering folks. Perhaps not a PhD, but a Masters certainly pays, at least in aerospace. Also, what was said earlier on the trades / 2 year tech type programs. Here at my major aerospace employer in Seattle, there are a lot of Engineering Techs (FKA draftsmen).

  28. One more thing…..

    It seems all too many of the lib arts types get their commons sense educated right out of them in grad school.

  29. re: Martin Owens

    {comment parsed through bullshit filter…}
    {translation}
    Damn city slickers wut wit thar book larnin’! I reckons the lot of them don’t even know how ta distingify a steer from a freemartin!
    We don’t need them kind ’round here!
    YEEEEEE-HAAAAWWWW!
    [Martin Owens then procedes to jump up and down and shoot off 2 revolvers all Yosemite Sam-like]
    {/translation}

  30. Another problem that was not mentioned is the fact that graduate degrees seem to have an expiration date.

    I graduated in 1992 with an MBA. We were just exiting a severe recession and there were too many people with experience out of work.

    As the economy improved, I was still unable to find work in my field. By that time, employers had a problem with my lack of relevant experience over teh prior three years.

    I finally gave up and became a programmer on my own. The graduate degree was a complete waste.

  31. The article is just as correct in my experience as a Biochemistry Ph.D. without the qualifier “humanities”. I’m now on public assistance and close to becoming homeless.

  32. Bitter, when people are complaining about earning 60-80 grand after 30 or 40 years, you have to take into account the years they spent working for much, much less to get to that point, during which time they might have had to relocate all over the country. As my mom liked to point out whenever I brought up my psych degree, admins at her chemical plant started at $50,000.

    I work in higher ed now, and I see plenty of students who would be better off working straight out of high school for a few years, joining the military or getting a two-year degree, but there’s no talking them out of the university even if they’re flunking classes or openly attending just because their parents want them to. College is fun, it’s what everyone has told them successful people need, and they’re loathe to let go of the student role.

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