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post #31 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenHero View Post
The only thing Teger knows is that he wants to use education as a means to convince other people he's smart. He'll figure out what he wants to learn later. Right now it's just about finding out which school he wants to be exploited into debt by.

please don't confuse my education with your style forum posting career
post #32 of 260
Have you looked at assistantships provided by the university, not necessarily through your department?

A while back, I was in a similar position -- only got into an MA program with no funding, but I found work in an administrative department at the school. The work sucked and it kept me busier than a regular TA or RA appointment would, but it covered tuition and gave me a stipend.
post #33 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post
not to sound like a dick, but I've been climbing the academic ladder for the last 4 years. I've started from a community college, transferred to a cheap but middling state school and now I'm ready to move up a rung. I am confident that wherever I go, if I put in the work and time, I can be competitive to a top program.

Right, and there are thousands of really excellent ball players on playgrounds all over America. None of them are going to bet $70K that they will one of the 300 or so that makes it to the NBA. They may all believe it, but they are not ... um brave or dumb enough to put down that kind of cash.

This advice is well meaning. Seriously. Do some research. It sounds like you have not looked into this at all. I get that it you want to be a prof. I understand the appeal. But the reality is brutal. I can count about half a dozen Harvard PhDs I personally know who didn't make it.

There have been a host of articles written about this, many quite scathing on the ways that universities peddle the myth, take your money, exploit your cheap labor through adjuct work for as long as possible, and then cast you aside for the next wave. It's very calculated and very cynical.

I'm not saying don't go to grad school. But do it with eyes open. You may be great but even 90% of the great ones don't make it.
post #34 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AntiHero84 View Post
Have you looked at assistantships provided by the university, not necessarily through your department?

A while back, I was in a similar position -- only got into an MA program with no funding, but I found work in an administrative department at the school. The work sucked and it kept me busier than a regular TA or RA appointment would, but it covered tuition and gave me a stipend.

I've talked to several people at UVA, and while there would be options to get some kind of help (probably a department job), whatever I get wouldn't waive/cover tuition.

The best case scenario would be only taking $14k/year in loans. Still shitty.
post #35 of 260
Read what Manton wrote, then read it again. Wait 2 days, and read it again.

People ALWAYS overestimate their ability in things like this. Sure I know some people who became professors, but I don't think people realize AT ALL how hard it is these days. There are thousands more qualified PHDs than professorships.

I know people who are top top of their field (as Manton says, Harvard PHDs) who can't find jobs at tier 2 and even 3 universities. Everyone thinks they're the one of a hundred, but the reality is, they're barely one out of two.

I don't know much about English as a major, but I can tell you that in most subjects if you're not top of your class you're not getting a PHD anywhere worthwhile and even if you do, you've got probably a 1/10 chance (optimistically) to land a decent tenure track job.
post #36 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post
please don't confuse my education with your style forum posting career

Like I said earlier: Go for it, Teger. Everyone else here is looking at you like a naive and aimless degree-whore, motivated by the ends you see yourself reaching rather than the plausibility of the means you're eager to jump into bed with. You're standing on a cliff and using people on the internet to help you decide whether you should jump. The joke's on you.
post #37 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
Right, and there are thousands of really excellent ball players on playgrounds all over America. None of them are going to bet $70K that they will one of the 300 or so that makes it to the NBA. They may all believe it, but they are not ... um brave or dumb enough to put down that kind of cash.

This advice is well meaning. Seriously. Do some research. It sounds like you have not looked into this at all. I get that it you want to be a prof. I understand the appeal. But the reality is brutal. I can count about half a dozen Harvard PhDs I personally know who didn't make it.

There have been a host of articles written about this, many quite scathing on the ways that universities peddle the myth, take your money, exploit your cheap labor through adjuct work for as long as possible, and then cast you aside for the next wave. It's very calculated and very cynical.

I'm not saying don't go to grad school. But do it with eyes open. You may be great but even 90% of the great ones don't make it.

Dude, I'm very, very well aware of just how awful the job market is. I work at the English Department at my middling state University and we're doing candidate searches, and we have hundreds and hundreds of applicants for 2 tenure track positions.

The only reason I'm tempted to even accept the UVA offer is - a. it's my dream school, and b. where I live, a degree from UVA, any degree, really opens doors. People talk about UVA like it is Harvard, and even if it's not justified (I don't think it is), there's still that perception.

The Tech offer is a good setup for applying to a top tier PhD program. I'd have very, very little debt (if any) and I'd have direct teaching experience.

More and more I'm leaning towards Tech.
post #38 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post
I've talked to several people at UVA, and while there would be options to get some kind of help (probably a department job), whatever I get wouldn't waive/cover tuition.

The best case scenario would be only taking $14k/year in loans. Still shitty.

Honestly, VT is probably your best bet. Check out the MA program, see if you want to stick it out for the PhD and then see if you can get into a program better than UVA. It could work if you consider the way you've already been hopping school to school.

Also, while Manton's advice is harsh, he's not far off. It's going to be really tough for the humanities and the social sciences in the coming years. Sucks, but that's the way it is. Ultimately, it will come down to whether you really LOVE the work as an academic. While you're in your MA program, seriously consider a few alternative careers. You can always try and steer your focus more academic or more marketable to an employer.
post #39 of 260
Thread Starter 
Honestly, I think there's a perception that I'm unaware how terrible the PhD job market is. I get it. I've read the articles. I've talked to many people about it. I've always kept in mind that I need to have a backup plan, and since I'll probably stay in Virginia in the near future, I made a concerted effort to apply to schools with very strong instate reputations and alumni networks. Actually, the non-PhD track is perhaps the best argument for taking loans and going to UVA, although it's still not a very good one. The downside to Tech is that even though Tech is very, very wellknown in the state, it's located in a hicksville mountain town that has nothing going for it but the University. Hard to make lasting, useful connections when you're moving after two years no matter what. That's also why I'm still considering pursuing the History MA option (if I get admitted and get funding). I'd be staying at my school for another two years, but the program has a very, very good job placement and PhD placement track record, and the department has very strong ties to the city.
post #40 of 260
Are either school even top 10 in MA English? I just googled some rankings and they're not showing up. I wouldn't spend money on a non top 10 program for a masters, that's basically blowing money away on something almost completely worthless.
post #41 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post
Honestly, I think there's a perception that I'm unaware how terrible the PhD job market is. I get it. I've read the articles. I've talked to many people about it. I've always kept in mind that I need to have a backup plan, and since I'll probably stay in Virginia in the near future, I made a concerted effort to apply to schools with very strong instate reputations and alumni networks.

Actually, the non-PhD track is perhaps the best argument for taking loans and going to UVA, although it's still not a very good one. The downside to Tech is that even though Tech is very, very wellknown in the state, it's located in a hicksville mountain town that has nothing going for it but the University. Hard to make lasting, useful connections when you're moving after two years no matter what.

That's also why I'm still considering pursuing the History MA option (if I get admitted and get funding). I'd be staying at my school for another two years, but the program has a very, very good job placement and PhD placement track record, and the department has very strong ties to the city.

No, you don't.

I am, again, assuming you are talking about teaching jobs. Alumni networks mean close to nothing. The academic job market is national. You have to apply to any open job in any state, 100-200 per year, and be willing to move ANYWHERE to have any hope at all. IF (big if) your best friend ends up as chair of a department somewhere that has an opening, that would help you a great deal, but A) that's not really an example of an alumni network at work and B) no single person ever has the power to hire for AssProf slots, so all he can do is thumb the scale. Single people can veto, however.

If you want to get the degree, try your luck in the academic market, and then move on if it doesn't work out, that's not a terrible plan. But don't pay a dime for it.

Harsh truth: people who pay for non-professional grad schools are seen as losers in the academic market. Either that or diletants.
post #42 of 260
Thread Starter 
Tech isn't. Tech isn't bad, but I'd put it more at the upper end of Tier 2, with UVA solidly in Tier 1. UVA would be for what I'd want to study (American/British Lit). That said, I'd say my current school is solidly Tier 3, if that! One of the real questions I have is how UVA treats their MA students. I've talked to several recent graduates and I'm getting very, very mixed stories. One person says take the loans, it's worth it. Another person says that UVA treats non-PHD students like shit and uses their tuition to fund the department. Very mixed!
post #43 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
No, you don't. I am, again, assuming you are talking about teaching jobs. Alumni networks mean close to nothing. The academic job market is national. You have to apply to any open job in any state, 100-200 per year, and be willing to move ANYWHERE to have any hope at all. IF (big if) your best friend ends up as chair of a department somewhere that has an opening, that would help you a great deal, but A) that's not really an example of an alumni network at work and B) no single person ever has the power to hire for AssProf slots, so all he can do is thumb the scale. Single people can veto, however. If you want to get the degree, try your luck in the academic market, and then move on if it doesn't work out, that's not a terrible plan. But don't pay a dime for it. Harsh truth: people who pay for non-professional grad schools are seen as losers in the academic market. Either that or diletants.
Huh? I know how the academic job application game is played. I know that I would have to apply everywhere and anywhere, and be prepared to live in the country, in the city or on a mountain. My reference to the alumni networks is simply because if I'm pursuing nonacademic jobs (and hell, I might get to the MA program, hate my life and dread ever pursuing this further), it will help. As for your "harsh truth", yea that's what I believe (and have been told). Very true. The good thing about the Tech offer is that the teaching position it includes is very, very good. Edit: Sorry if I'm coming off as snarky. StephenHero is really irritating me in this thread! Anyway yea, I should just be smart, go to Tech for free and grab a degree and see what happens. Worse comes to worse I can sell clothes again.
post #44 of 260
when choosing this kind of grad degree, is important to look at the big picture: which will net you the 30k job you want at 30 years old?
post #45 of 260
Masters programs everywhere are cash cows for universities looking to churn out degrees. You are cannon fodder and nothing more no matter where you go. Also you're a second class citizen applying for PHDs in the US because if you were any good you wouldn't need a master's degree.

I say this as a masters student at a tier 1 institution, the good thing is my employer is paying for my degree.

And I don't know what you mean by tiers but if it's not top 10 in general, it's probably not worth anything, especially in a program like English.

What we're saying is you glossed over what Manton wrote but didn't really understand it.
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