Monday, June 18, 2007

Words of Advice

I've talked before about PhD programs in philosophy where grads have close to no chance of ever getting a tenure track job. As Leiter put it at one point, "there are surely PhD programs where "one in five" would overstate your prospects" of getting a job when you were done.

Looking back to when I was thinking about grad school, I can see how my profs tried to warn me about those realities. The advice I got from a few profs was not to got to grad school if I had to spend a cent of my own money to do it. If a school's not willing to give you a decent stipend, these profs implied, that's just their way of saying you're not cut out for the business.

But that advice? It doesn't even come close to seeing things clearly. I'd forgotten that old advice when undergrads started asking me about grad school, and this is what I told them instead:
  1. Do you ever want to have any choice at all about where you live?
  2. Do you think you might ever have a partner whose career won't let him or her drop everything and relocate whenever you need to move for a job?
  3. Are you thinking about going to a grad school that's not in the top 30 on the Leiter Report?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, do not go to grad school in philosophy.

That's not to deny some poeple make it work. But having a reasonable expectation of ever finding a job means answering "no" to all three of those questions.

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