Follow-up essay on why you shouldn’t go to grad school in the humanities

the big lie

Here’s the original essay. There was also a previous follow-up that I missed.

She was the best student her adviser had ever seen (or so he said); it seemed like a dream when she was admitted to a distinguished doctoral program; she worked so hard for so long; she won almost every prize; she published several essays; she became fully identified with the academic life; even distancing herself from her less educated family. For all of those reasons, she continues as an adjunct who qualifies for food stamps, increasingly isolating herself to avoid feelings of being judged. Her students have no idea that she is a prisoner of the graduate-school poverty trap. The consolations of teaching are fewer than she ever imagined.

Such people sometimes write to me about their thoughts of suicide, and I think nothing separates me from them but luck.

Scenarios like that are what irritate me about professors who still bleat on about “the life of mind.” They absolve themselves of responsibility for what happens to graduate students by saying, distantly, “there are no guarantees.” But that phrase suggests there’s only a chance you won’t get a tenure-track job, not an overwhelming improbability that you will.

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Big Lie About the ‘Life of the Mind’

(Thanks David)

See also:

What’s a Degree Really Worth?

Can Ivy League education be provided for $20 a month?

1 Comment

  1. More stuff:

    Futurist Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s experience in academia:

    Anthropologist Amber Case talks about her work in the private sector and gives advice to liberal arts majors:

    Beyond Academe, a web site “Intended to help PhDs make the transition out of academia.”:

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