Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Saw Men With Dreams Like the Ones I'd Had Beg Quarters Outside the 7-11

There are so many awful things about the eastern APA, I don't really know how to start talking about it all. PGOAT's the same. It's just such fucking nightmare.

Well, this Leiter post hints at one thing. It's a post about senior faculty moves and tenure track hires in 2006-2007, so run-of-the-mill professional gossip. But it's not about all senior moves and junior hires, just the "major" ones. What does "major" mean? For the US, it means moves and hires at the top 50 or so departments. What Leiter's post only hints at, the APA has to a sickening degree. Professional status, and everybody's consciousness of it, is one of the most basic facts of the conference.

There's two different axes of status. One's binary--do you have a job or not? The other's more of a spectrum. Are you from a top-10 department? Top-15? Top-20? Middle of the Leiter report? Bottom? Or are you from one of the 90 or so American departments that don't even get ranked? Top-10 makes you a Brahmin; not ranked makes you untouchable.

The axes combine to make different statuses. Obviously, having a job at a top-10 department makes you a fucking emperor. Being from a top-10 department and being on the market's not so bad, either. You're a princess. In fact, you're prettiest princess in the empire. Everyone wants a chance to talk to you.

But to be from a department that's not ranked and not have a job? I'm in a department in the middle of the Leiter report, and I felt it. You're invisible. Or if people actually seem to see you, it's not like they're looking at a person. They see you the way people living downtown see homeless people. You're just an unattractive part of the background.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

First, thanks for all the recent discussion on this blog about advice for prospectives. I'm applying to PhD programs this fall, and I'm happy to read some straight talk on this subject.

Second, is it really so bad to be at a department in "the middle of the Leiter rankings"? It looks like being in the top 20 is considered pretty safe, but once you drop lower than that, people are less optimistic. But I've looked at placement records for lots of sub-top-20 programs, and several are quite good. For example, Penn (27) does very well for its students (maybe it's just the Ivy effect), and Georgetown (39) seems to do a great job placing its graduates.

So when we are advised to "think very carefully" about sub-top-20 programs, does that just boil down to "check out the placement record, and if it sucks, don't go"?