I've been talking about how hard it is for grad students to see clearly what their job prospects are. When you're applying to grad school, and even in your first few years, when you're still doing coursework, you don't see yourself scraping by with one-year after one-year, moving every couple of years from one shitty town to the next, chasing temporary appointments. Let me make this concrete.
A good friend of mine just told me this story last week. He knows a guy who's doing philosophy at department that's not ranked on Leiter's List. That means it's below the top 50. My friend wanted to know why this guy was doing the degree, since--my friend figured--this guy has no reasonable expectation of ever landing a tenure-track job. The guy's response? He figured he'd be fine, since he didn't really want a high-powered job at a big research university. He'd be perfectly happy settling for a nice liberal arts college.
That's it right there. That's the disconnect from reality I've been talking about. Tenure-tracked teaching jobs go to people coming from the middle and bottom half of the top 50. If you're in a department that's below the top 50, you're looking at very long odds. But that's not the way it seemed to this guy my friend was knows. He figured he'd be fine.