Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Hope Tomorrow is Like Today

In comments, PJMB friend NS has an interesting (and Humean!) suggestion about why people entering grad school have such a foggy view of the difficulties of the job market:
Good students getting into grad schools have been beating "the odds" all their life, so why should it continue to be any different? . . .[W]here would one have ever gotten the message that being at the top of the heap and the class will eventually not continue to open whatever door you knock upon? The first real rejection these people (like many of us) have ever experienced is from their job apps.

That's a good point as far as it goes. If you're going to grad school, you're probably used to being better than most of your classmates, if not all of them. Your experiences up to that point in life probably don't prepare you all that well for thinking clearly about the job market--especially not years before you hit it.

At the same time, in philosophy there really are clues out there for people with eyes to see. There's the Leiter Report, for one. You apply to a range of schools in the top 50 and below, and you only get into schools below the top 40. There it is, staring you right in the face: you are no longer the top of the heap. I guess it's just hard to take that on board.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Peter Principle in action.


--Lewis Libby

Anonymous said...

This story about one of the things the NFL is starting to do for its players is interesting:


There are some interesting similarities with grad school here. Football players often think they can play forever, and that they will never have to look for other work. They're wrong on both counts, of course. Grad students often aren't really thinking hard beyond gradutate school and aren't thinking about having to look for work outside of academia.

Interesting that the NFL is providing more resources for former players than the APA is. (Of course, the NFL has a boatload more $.)

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Scooter -- I love the Peter Principle. But in a way, the grad student thing seems like it's the opposite. Grad students never get promoted to the point where they're incompetent; rather they never get a chance to do the job they'd be incompetent at. (Eh, that's maybe a little too pessemistic. . .) But besides, what are you doing reading blogs? Shouldn't you be spending your last free days with your family?

Anon. -- The URL for that NYT link's been cut-off for me, so I can't read ther article. What's the NFL doing exactly? Is it the article about the players getting media training?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's the article about the media training.

It's especially interesting b/c I wouldn't have thought that being an NFL player prepares you well for any other career, except maybe being a spokesmodel for some product.

But it turns out that playing in the NFL is pretty good training to talk about football on TV and radio.

So if philosophy grad school is like playing in the NFL, what is the analogous thing that departments could help get philosophy grad students into after they've got their Ph.D's but aren't going to get jobs?

NFL players who are too old and slow to play anymore still have impressive skills; presumably they are better at football than everyone but the younger faster guys. Grad students from out of the top 50 school presumably have skills that are good, just not as good as the skills of those in the top 50.

So what can we do that's like broadcasting???

P.G.O.A.T. said...

Two words: law school.

Seriously, though. I'm not sure the comparison to the NFL's media training is entirely apt. It's one thing for a professional organization to provide its members with training for skills they can use after they're no longer able to be participate competitively; it would be quite another for an organization to provide training for people who turned out to not ever be competitive in the first place. Other than doing more than it currently does to give people a realistic sense of their job prospects *before* starting grad school, I'm not sure I think the APA has obligations to people who can't read the writing on the wall.