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Grad School Thread

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Teger, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    I'm a professor, for whatever that's worth. You might want to post your question on the Chronicle of Higher Education boards, but they'll tell you the same thing that Manton told you. The conventional wisdom is that it is beyond foolish to take out loans for a humanities Ph.D., let alone a masters. You should absolutely go to Virginia Tech. The decision is not close. Do well at Virginia Tech and try to get into a top 10 Ph.D. program. If you don't get admitted to a top, TOP program, I encourage you to explore other options. Regardless of the program, you have four huge strikes against you: 1) you're white (not sure about this, obviously, I'm just guessing); 2) you're a male; 3) you are interested in either History or English, which have horrible, horrible job markets; and 4) your area of interest (British Lit or something similar) is not exactly in demand.

    Ask yourself if you would be happy getting a Ph.D. even if you couldn't get an academic job. BTW, phrasing the question as whether you're willing to move anywhere in the country for a job is foolishly optimistic. The proper question is whether you're willing to spend years working as an adjunct, juggling 5 different classes at 3 different universities and making $20,000 TOTAL. Are you prepared to live a live of poverty (after you've spent about 8 years getting the Ph.D.), while your "less intelligent" friends enjoy middle class lifestyles?

    The worst thing you can do is make plans under the assumption that you're likely to be an exception to the conventional wisdom.


    and yes, I'm willing to live in poverty.

    I'm also saying this as a 24 year old single male.

    although no plans to get married or have children anytime soon (if ever!).
     
  2. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    and yes, I'm willing to live in poverty.


    [​IMG]
     
  3. bslo

    bslo Senior member

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    For the record, I am aware of this. My point about moving was not that, if you are willing to move, you will get a job. It was to debunk the notion that somehow a regional alumni network is in any way an advantage in the academic job market.

    I thought I had made the adjunct point above but you hit it a little harder. I don't disagree at all.


    Sorry, my post was not intended to be critical of the advice you gave, which was good. I just want to make sure Teger understands the dreadful job market which he will enter. And no, it will probably not be better in ten years when you have finally finished your Ph.D.

    I absolutely agree with you about the national nature of the academic job market. A regional network might be valuable, however, if you're trying to get a community college position, but I'm not sure. Those jobs are difficult to get now, too, especially if you're a white male with no special skills (i.e., languages) in an incredibly oversaturated specialty.
     
  4. bslo

    bslo Senior member

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    and yes, I'm willing to live in poverty.

    I'm also saying this as a 24 year old single male.

    although no plans to get married or have children anytime soon (if ever!).


    Well, maybe you are, but I bet your views will change over time (especially if you meet someone). Your best move would be to marry a woman with a good job who would be willing to support you indefinitely. You can imagine, I hope, that it usually works the opposite way in grad school in the humanities. The woman pursues the low paying academic career and has the professional husband support her.

    Incidentally, I didn't mention this earlier, but I hope you have a well-articulated research agenda. Your indecision between History and English gives me doubts. Obviously, pursuing a masters degree will give you time to develop one, but if you're applying to Ph.D. programs you're not going to be competitive at top programs if your Statement of Interest reads like something prepared by an undergrad instead of a budding scholar. The same goes for your writing sample.
     
  5. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    if you're curious I could send you both :p

    yes I have a pretty specific statement of interest
     
  6. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    A regional network might be valuable, however, if you're trying to get a community college position, but I'm not sure. Those jobs are difficult to get now, too, especially if you're a white male with no special skills (i.e., languages) in an incredibly oversaturated specialty.

    I started at a community college. Only one of my instructors had a PhD. She taught English. That is not the field I'd be looking to enter!
     
  7. mktitsworth

    mktitsworth Senior member

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    As someone who is a grad student at the moment: Take funding. I did semester one without funding. Take funding. Someone is willing to PAY YOU to go to school. That means you don't have to spend 40+ hours a week doing class and homework AND 40 hours a week to pay the rent, because the rent is too damn high.

    Again. Go with funding.
     
  8. Fraiche

    Fraiche Senior member

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    I don't think this question has been sufficiently discussed so far:

    What jobs are your targetting after you graduate and what salary are you expecting?

    Hopefully there's a 6 figure job in your consideration to take care of that 6 figure debt. And I mean 6 figures once you get out, not down the line.
     
  9. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    well, it has been discussed, and i'm still planning on trying to pursue a PhD.
     
  10. AldenPyle

    AldenPyle Senior member

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    The scam that these humanities graduate progams run is diabolical. Imagine encouraging some chump to borrow 70k to get an MA in English. The gap between the moral self-regard of these people and the way they live their lives is unfathomable.
     
  11. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Senior member

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    The scam that these humanities graduate progams run is diabolical. Imagine encouraging some chump to borrow 70k to get an MA in English. The gap between the moral self-regard of these people and the way they live their lives is unfathomable.
    Yes. How dare these diabolical cowards keep scamming people into academia? Crazy thought, guys: some folks actually want to go into research, or teaching, or publishing within the humanities. That's why these degrees and programs exist. That's what they're supposed to be for. Are there a lot of frustrated chumps out there with MAs, slinging caramel macchiatos at their local SBux? Sure. But those people deluded themselves. They had no idea what they wanted from life. That's their own fault, and not the fault of the institutions that granted their degrees. Humanities MAs are specific degrees for people who want to follow very specific paths (mostly within academia). Degree collectors, slackers, and burnouts who happen to pursue MAs have only themselves to blame when they decide it's not for them. Those people should have known what they were getting themselves into. And if they actually thought that an MA in English was going to help them in the non-academic professional world, well, that's their own damned fault. They should have done their research, no pun intended.
     
  12. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    I think I've shared here before when I returned to school I wanted to get a Ph.D. in philosophy. I went in to talk with the department head and he told me that if my goal was to teach I was foolish. Went on to talk about the glut of Ph.Ds., 95% of tenure tracks positions in philosophy going to women and minorities, and that I was dooming myself to a life of semi-poverty and no respect if I wanted to pursue this course. I thanked him for being so frank and the rest is history.
     
  13. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    I'm interested to know two things Teger

    1. what are these doors that swing wide open for UVA MAs in English, that will see you promptly eradicate 70k of debt?

    2. how much undergrad debt has been accumulated en route to your BA?
     
  14. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    Oh yeah, forgot to mention my little talk with the chair of the philosophy department was in the early 1990s. Basically, nearly 20 years later and sounds like things haven't changed.
     
  15. Lord-Barrington

    Lord-Barrington Senior member

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    This thread sort of turned out how I thought it would, but there are many good points being made. 70-100K for a terminal MA degree is not a good decision unless:

    a) You're independently wealthy.

    There's no "b", actually. That's about it. You may love the field or even want to a job that in some way necessitates an MA in english or history but the fact of the matter is that whatever that job is, it probably won't pay enough to knock out your debt quickly and worry free.
     
  16. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    If the goal is just to have a Ph.D., couldn't you get a degree or two first, that would let you actually earn money and then fulfill the Ph.D. dream part time? Although, I will warn you, I went to check out upgrading my MPH to a Ph.D. and I just could not deal with the idiocy and ego of academics at this point in my life. Little people, making 1/3rd what I do, and wanting to tell me how my proactive and logical planning to get this done was all wrong. I decided they didn't deserve another 50k of my money so I could put "Dr." in front of my name.
     
  17. AldenPyle

    AldenPyle Senior member

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    Yes. How dare these diabolical cowards keep scamming people into academia?

    Crazy thought, guys: some folks actually want to go into research, or teaching, or publishing within the humanities. That's why these degrees and programs exist. That's what they're supposed to be for.

    Are there a lot of frustrated chumps out there with MAs, slinging caramel macchiatos at their local SBux? Sure. But those people deluded themselves. They had no idea what they wanted from life. That's their own fault, and not the fault of the institutions that granted their degrees.

    Humanities MAs are specific degrees for people who want to follow very specific paths (mostly within academia). Degree collectors, slackers, and burnouts who happen to pursue MAs have only themselves to blame when they decide it's not for them. Those people should have known what they were getting themselves into. And if they actually thought that an MA in English was going to help them in the non-academic professional world, well, that's their own damned fault. They should have done their research, no pun intended.


    What can I say? When you are right, you are right. There's a sucker born every minute, and some sheep are just meant to be sheared.
     
  18. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    Yes. How dare these diabolical cowards keep scamming people into academia? Crazy thought, guys: some folks actually want to go into research, or teaching, or publishing within the humanities. That's why these degrees and programs exist. That's what they're supposed to be for. Are there a lot of frustrated chumps out there with MAs, slinging caramel macchiatos at their local SBux? Sure. But those people deluded themselves. They had no idea what they wanted from life. That's their own fault, and not the fault of the institutions that granted their degrees. Humanities MAs are specific degrees for people who want to follow very specific paths (mostly within academia). Degree collectors, slackers, and burnouts who happen to pursue MAs have only themselves to blame when they decide it's not for them. Those people should have known what they were getting themselves into. And if they actually thought that an MA in English was going to help them in the non-academic professional world, well, that's their own damned fault. They should have done their research, no pun intended.
    Even if you know exactly what you're getting into, the university system is churning out far more PhD's than the market can support. It's not even close either, there are probably at least ten graduates for every job. The schools know full well that there's not going to be any positions for most of their graduates, but they need people to TA and so they bring people in, string them along for six or seven years, then shove them into a cruel and unforgiving job market. It's not exactly responsible. The candidates themselves are ultimately at fault for not realizing this, or choosing to think they'll be the exception. I don't have a lot of pity for them, but I don't want to excuse the universities for their actions. The system in the sciences is slightly less unethical, at least there are jobs post-graduation. It's still pretty bad, for various reasons.
     
  19. dtmt

    dtmt Senior member

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  20. deaddog

    deaddog Senior member

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    This isn't my area of expertise but a little more anecdotal evidence to add to the fire. My cousin was a rockstar student in PoliSci at a top school (U of Chicago), incredibly savvy and personable with a number of well-regarded publications - everything you'd expect in a great teacher who also knows how to play the internal politics game. In other words, a sure bet to be a top academic.

    Today, at 40, he is doing the adjunct thing at a couple different local small schools (just above the community college level), has a new baby and is making about 20 grand. Luckily, his wife does well but his story reflects what you're hearing from Manton and others.
     

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