Friday, May 13, 2011

"Going to grad school's a suicide mission."

I am a fairly long standing fan of the NPR show Car Talk, and make every effort to catch it on the weekends.  However, there are times when the jokes Tom and Ray constantly sling about PhD hotdog venders in Harvard Square ring a bit too true for anyone whose gone through the long, slow process of obtaining an advanced degree.  Since this blog came about in no small part as an attempt to link my graduate education with my career choice, a post on graduate education is certainly not too far afield.  Via Neuroanthropology, I came across this article on the problems of academia by literary critic and former Yale professor of English William Deresiewicz.  Although I cannot complain overmuch on my own current situation (after all, I have a fairly substantial position within my chosen field, even if it is not exactly what I had in mind on beginning grad school), I have seen plenty of burnout and stress among a substantial body of young scholars with no clear path to their original career goals. 

In any case, the take away message, both from the article and my own experience, is this; DON'T enter any graduate program without a clear idea of what you want to study, how you intend to complete your thesis and/or dissertation topic, an a brutally honest assessment of what your post-grad school living situation will be like. 

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