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PhD vs entering a job market - Page 2

post #16 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by erdawe View Post

Am I missing something?
Why not at least initially pursue both with an emphasis on getting the job (and securing it) 100% and you still have ~1.5 years left? And how bad do you actually want to become a professor? With poor odds with the number of tenure-track positions heavily declining, but adjunct positions increasing greatly? Are you content with adjunct salary hopping from university to university for a decade after spending years on your PhD?
Your history department is separate within the same university you are applying for the position, how will the position know you've applied to graduate PhD schools your second year?
How does a PhD in History give you marketable skills outside the university setting? At least with an MA and the type of soft-work you'll be doing at the university you can parlay skills into hopefully a decent private sector job should the university academic setting give out from under you.
Ask yourself, what's my backup in private sector that needs a PhD in History that would be more beneficial than MA plus management and 'soft' skills with real work experience?
There's far too many PhD's these days that are pumped out on a revolving door of adjunct work without much bright future for the academic gigs you see your professors have down the hall. I have 2 friends like this with PhD's working at a state university in subjects other than hard sciences. Hell, you might make more long term with a MA and work experience and the option to advance in education for free than you would after all the struggle during and after your PhD.
PhD in History is not exactly PhD in Molecular Genetics. The idea that everyone needs one these days really waters them down. Not to mention all the changes in the bubble of academia that will likely take place in future.
Think long and hard if that's what you really want... What does the PhD give you tangibly that makes it actually worth pursing? If you can't answer that soundly to yourself, you're much more likely to regret long-term than if you jumped into the job market.

Good points.

1. I think I'm going to try to initially go after both, but as I said applying to schools is expensive. I'm looking at spending between $1000 - $2000 on the application process, which isn't chump change for me.

2. I understand the realities of the PhD job market, and I've considered the above. I'm honestly not entirely sure.

3. Huh?

4-7. Obviously doesn't, etc.
post #17 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post

1. I think I'm going to try to initially go after both, but as I said applying to schools is expensive. I'm looking at spending between $1000 - $2000 on the application process, which isn't chump change for me.

How many schools is that? I don't remember what my apps cost but it was pretty trivial, on par with undergrad app costs, and a lot of them comped your fee if you got in.
post #18 of 52
Thread Starter 
7-8. Application fees range from $75 - $130, then another $30 for scores, and $10 for transcripts.
post #19 of 52
why so many applications ? try not to cast out a net in hopes of getting a catch but be a predator and target just a couple programs. get in touch with the faculty, write letters that show you have familiarized yourself with their works and show why you are a good fit and suggest any ideas you may have come up with. costs less and has better chance of getting you in rather than a generic forms A-D applicant they gloss over. sell yourself to them and make them want you. then, if you decide your poverty-stricken life is not worth it (even though it's not really poverty) you can jump ship by first taking an extended leave of absence for personal reasons so you don't burn all your bridges and finally *snip* or you can stick with it, possibly do a post-doc to get some awesome publications at slightly-above poverty level or alternatively write a great dissertation and get tenure track, after which you have nothing to do and can focus on administrative work or better yet become president of a university icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
post #20 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the shah View Post

why so many applications ? try not to cast out a net in hopes of getting a catch but be a predator and target just a couple programs. get in touch with the faculty, write letters that show you have familiarized yourself with their works and show why you are a good fit and suggest any ideas you may have come up with. costs less and has better chance of getting you in rather than a generic forms A-D applicant they gloss over. sell yourself to them and make them want you. then, if you decide your poverty-stricken life is not worth it (even though it's not really poverty) you can jump ship by first taking an extended leave of absence for personal reasons so you don't burn all your bridges and finally *snip* or you can stick with it, possibly do a post-doc to get some awesome publications at slightly-above poverty level or alternatively write a great dissertation and get tenure track, after which you have nothing to do and can focus on administrative work or better yet become president of a university icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif

i know how to apply (I promise!), it's just that as eric pointed out, there are a TON of good applicants and just not a lot of slots. you have to cast a wide net.
post #21 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by the shah View Post

possibly do a post-doc to get some awesome publications at slightly-above poverty level or alternatively write a great dissertation and get tenure track, after which you have nothing to do and can focus on administrative work or better yet become president of a university icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif

Do postdocs even exist in the humanities? wtf would they do, some interminable level of slavery beneath adjunct faculty but slightly above grad students?


Come to think of it, that's not so different from science academics...
post #22 of 52
those tons of applicants will for the most part have no clue what they are doing. a wide net won't make you stand out. i know you don't believe an admissions committee goes over every single detail so you know why this is important.
post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibonius View Post


Do postdocs even exist in the humanities? wtf would they do, some interminable level of slavery beneath adjunct faculty but slightly above grad students?


Come to think of it, that's not so different from science academics...

yeah pretty much, given some cave of an office as adjunct faculty shared with 10 others and the janitor's supplies, forced to teach 101 courses, help in the writing center, be the cool older dude on campus, and pray for an awesome publication. i don't know if they are actually called post-docs but effectively the same thing.
post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post

7-8. Application fees range from $75 - $130, then another $30 for scores, and $10 for transcripts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by the shah View Post

those tons of applicants will for the most part have no clue what they are doing. a wide net won't make you stand out. i know you don't believe an admissions committee goes over every single detail so you know why this is important.

I just went through this process last year (not history though). I applied for 9 schools and felt that was a good number. From talking to the humanities students at my school, there are only about 4-6 students per program (my program had 9). FWIW, I was accepted into the PhD program, went 1 semester and decided to stop at MS.
post #25 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post

I know, but fortunately American history is slightly better than English. I've already been through the PhD application process once (obviously unsuccessfully frown.gif) so I have good experience with the realities of it. The reason I'm 'somewhat' confident is that the professor I work most closely with is a pretty big name in his field, and he's successfully placed several students into top programs in the past. I get the impression that if he likes you -- and I hope he likes me -- he can make a phone call to a friend and really help you out.
I also will hopefully graduate with a 4.0, I have great GRE scores, have a historiographically and theoretically "trending" topic (I basically am trying to study American doughboys from a social, postmodernist-esque perspective) and will have a couple of conferences under my belt.

Eh, but multiply this by 100. There are a lot "pretty big name" history/humanities/whatever professors with a lot of contacts at other institutions. My point being that I'm not sure this situation is particularly unique (i.e. a professor with a lot of contacts) and thus much of a guarantee of employment. Of course, you want someone who will lobby hard for you when you're on the market and track records can be a good indication of that, but from what I've heard, there are few situations where a job is just a phone call away.

Good GPA, great GRE scores, and having a sense of what you want to do are all a big plus, especially a good GPA. Good recommendations, which it sounds like you have, are also very important. The number of conferences you have been to when it comes to applying, in my experience, is fairly inconsequential. The quality of the ideas and research counts a lot more than whether or not you have presented it somewhere. This means that your writing sample and, above all, your personal statement are far more important than any of the aforementioned items. The trendiness of a topic isn't going to matter if you can't sell it convincingly to a program.

It sounds to me like you have to decide whether you want do academic work or not; essentially, how important it is to you to do research, write, teach, etc.. Both options put you in a university setting, but the second which you mention is more in line with student services is just a very different set of tasks. It also sounds like a totally different engagement with the university.

I can't say that living on a graduate stipend or having to teach freshman writing classes for minimal pay is grandiose, but I have found the camaraderie with my fellow graduate students to more than make up for it. And I like what I'm doing so the fact that I barely make any money hasn't kept me too down. It's a tougher experience for some people, though.
post #26 of 52
Thread Starter 
yea, I could probably survive on a stipend, but I'm getting to a point in my life (25) when I'd like to be less broke. I'm also worried about health and dental insurance.
post #27 of 52

Financially, getting a Ph.D. is never worth it. I have a Ph.D. in computer science from the #1 program in my field and, still, my pay would be higher if I had five more years of work experience. That said, if you want to work as a professor (keeping in mind that there aren't actually enough jobs for all of the quality Ph.D.s that want to work in academia), you really don't have a choice. In that sense, the choice is simple: if you want an professorial job you must do it and if not you shouldn't. The fact that you're asking the question makes me inclined to say that you shouldn't — if you couldn't imagine yourself doing anything but research, you probably wouldn't be considering other options.

 

If you go the route of grad school, you should definitely think about what you'd do with a degree if you didn't want or couldn't get a faculty job — for me in CS there are lots of great opportunities, for my brother with a Ph.D. in the humanities there really are none, and it's been very hard on him.

post #28 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdvs View Post

Financially, getting a Ph.D. is never worth it.

That's not entirely true. There are some fields, mostly hard sciences, where the lifetime earnings potential is reasonably higher for PhDs. It is very field specific though. Doesn't surprise me too much comp sci isn't one of them, since people without even a bachelors can do well.
post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibonius View Post

That's not entirely true. There are some fields, mostly hard sciences, where the lifetime earnings potential is reasonably higher for PhDs. It is very field specific though. Doesn't surprise me too much comp sci isn't one of them, since people without even a bachelors can do well.


Business PhDs do pretty well.
post #30 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibonius View Post


That's not entirely true. There are some fields, mostly hard sciences, where the lifetime earnings potential is reasonably higher for PhDs. It is very field specific though. Doesn't surprise me too much comp sci isn't one of them, since people without even a bachelors can do well.

forget the earnings, now it's become a trend for many biotechs and pharma to not even bother with techs (aside from a handful preparing stocks etc) but have PhDs doing much of the experiments themselves.

it really seems like what teger is outlining in terms of a career path without the doctorate is going to be capped quite soon, whereas he could have many more opportunities afforded to him if/when possessing a phd. don't necessarily have to go into academia even with something like a history specialization. especially if at the same time you can get some coursework done in the business school and get yourself some sort of certificate. be creative wink.gif

and any legitimate program will give you a healthy stipend along with insurance, and you can avoid paying taxes for that duration or probably get it all back.
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