Thomas Frank’s essay on the downfall of the university system is a fun (“fun”) read and ties together a lot of the changes happening at universities in a fun (“fun”) way: “Just about everyone in academia believes that they were the smartest kid in their class, the one with the good grades and the awesome test scores. They believe, by definition, that they are where they are because they deserve it. They’re the best. So tenured faculty find it easy to dismiss the de-professionalization of their field as the whining of second-raters who can’t make the grade. Too many of the adjuncts themselves, meanwhile, find it difficult to blame the system as they apply fruitlessly for another tenure-track position or race across town to their second or third teaching job—maybe they just don’t have what it takes after all. Then again, they will all be together, assuredly, as they sink finally into the briny deep.”
UVA English professor Mark Edmundson’s argues that, despite employability concerns, all college students should consider the English major, as it “means pursuing the most important subject of all—being a human being.” Reading books is a pretty fun way to learn! But also: It sure would be nice to have a marketable skill after you rack up a billion dollars in debt. If I could go back, I’d have chosen either Spanish (don’t speak a word!) or nursing. Skills.
“When Christina Wallace, now the director of the Startup Institute, attended Harvard Business School on a scholarship, she was told by her classmates that she needed to spend more money to fully participate, and that ‘the difference between a good experience and a great experience is only $20,000.‘”
Hahhhahahhha..hahhaa….ha……..ha………(thinks about it for a second). By George, they’re right.
My brother sounds like a professor sometimes and looks like a professor sometimes but is not a professor because he got his master’s and said: “I’m done, academia. Farewell.” He gives a trifecta of good reasons: No money in academia, no actual change is spurred by academia, your work is for other academics, not the world at large.
A fourth reason, that getting a PhD is a terrible and awful process, is outlined in this harrowing post by a woman named Liv who has a PhD and a job in academia in the U.K. She urges people to take another other route, as this one is long and hard and stressful and expensive. She writes: “I’ve just come back from a conference that was supposed to be about networking for early career researchers and basically turned into a group therapy session for trauma survivors. And this is the winners of the system, those of us who actually graduated from our PhDs and found jobs in academia.” Sounds super fun. Great fun. Most fun. Read the whole thing. Other money quote: “The whole system of academia is set up based on extremely able people looking for every possible flaw in the work of other extremely able people.”