Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Grand Don't Come For Free

The advice to prospective grad students floating around a bit ago is worth paying attention to. You need to know what you’re getting into when you sign up. You’re (hopefully) going to be teaching the rest of your life. There are not a lot of other job opportunities that will fully appreciate our skills. The market’s tight. All the departments you're looking at are going to put their best foot forward. The stipend tends to be good enough to subsist, but usually isn’t guaranteed for the length of time it takes a lot of us to finish.

That said, there’s something to keep in mind. Being a graduate student is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it hurts, but it can hurt so good. You get to seriously engage in the most interesting issues with others who can keep pace. This is just because all those formerly exceptional undergrads are now your peers. No one should go to grad school unless you're ready to start down a potentially life-long path that will include facing the the job market. But at least in my pre-job market experience, the past few years have been an incredibly rewarding social and intellectual time of my life. I mean, I get paid to sit around and think (hard).

So to all you newcomers to the ranks of philosophy grad school, Welcome! Who knows, maybe some of us will end up being your advisors.

--Second Suitor

6 comments:

doctaj said...

now let's push things forward?

CMD said...

I plan to start a PhD program in Fall '09. I don't know which one yet, but I am determined to make it happen somewhere. I appreciate the encouragement. That's why I am doing it. I make a solid middle class income now. I just want to crumple up and die when I imagine doing what I do for the rest of my life. I am definitely willing to go through some lean years in grad school for the experience. Then I will have a chance to get out and make the same that I do now. My wife thinks I'm crazy, but she's going into a high demand low supply field (to reference the previous thread). The old advice says, "Don't do it unless you can't imagine doing anything else." I can't. I won't. Intellectual challenge for once in my life, here I come!!

Anonymous said...

i have a solid intellectual challenge now.
i just crumple up and die when i imagine making the income i make for the rest of my life.

hey--on a different topic--that leiter guy says there's a lot of "nonsense and misinformation" published on this blog.

the nerve! practically every sentence i've read on this blog was grammatically well-formed. other than some what i wrote.

Anonymous said...

New topic: how long after the deadline should I wait before asking about my application for a postdoc? There's no interview process (as far as I know), and there's been no movement on the wiki.

I know I could ask without being irritating, but I don't want to seem to desperate. Even though I am.

Anonymous said...

"The old advice says, 'Don't do it unless you can't imagine doing anything else.' I can't. I won't. Intellectual challenge for once in my life, here I come!!"

The problem with this old adage is the "imagine" part. You don't know whether university teaching is something you'll enjoy doing for the rest of your life--you can only imagine that it may be. And keep in mind that whether or not you enjoy a job depends on all aspects of the job--in this case, teaching and research are a miniscule part of a job that often consists primarily of grading, paperwork, administrative tedium, and lots of babysitting.

As for "intellectual challenge"--this is only moderately true. Your challenges will mostly consist of teaching remedial spelling and grammar. As for the challenge of doing philosophical work or increasing your philosophical knowledge--you'd have more time for that outside of academia.

I'm reminded of the more recent post complaining about not having read a non-dissertation-related book in a long time. As a tenure track prof, I wish I had time to ready ANY new book--even one on, gasp, my research area.

Anonymous said...

CMD, don't do it. There are PLENTY of other ways to have a satisfying intellectual challenge in your life. I don't think you've appreciated the bloggers here, nor the commenters on all the threads. Everyone is desperate nearly to the point of insanity. Don't subject yourself to such torture. It's just not worth it. This field is very f***ed up.