Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The follow-up letters I receive from those prospective Ph.D.'s are often quite angry and incoherent; they've been praised their whole lives, and no one has ever told them that they may not become what they want to be, that higher education is a business that does not necessarily have their best interests at heart. Sometimes they accuse me of being threatened by their obvious talent. I assume they go on to find someone who will tell them what they want to hear: "Yes, my child, you are the one we've been waiting for all our lives." It can be painful, but it is better that undergraduates considering graduate school in the humanities should know the truth now, instead of when they are 30 and unemployed, or worse, working as adjuncts at less than the minimum wage under the misguided belief that more teaching experience and more glowing recommendations will somehow open the door to a real position.

This, in one succinct paragraph, is why I bailed on my PhD in music. I applaud people who stick it out because clearly they love it enough to keep going despite the reality of it all, but that simply wasn't me.

If this article does nothing but make those pursuing graduate degrees in the humanities think very hard about what they're doing and open their eyes to the reality of the path they've chosen, it's done its readers a great service.


Jose Galdamez said...

A related article about this came out today on Newsweek.The Death of Liberal Artshttp://www.newsweek.com/id/235894With the recession being the way it is, even professors in the humanities are facing problems as demand for their classes has gone down. TFA "According to a new study... the number of liberal-arts colleges dwindled from 212 in 1990 to 136 in 2009. The humanities are taking the hardest hit at schools with small endowments."The closing paragraph does provide some hope though, albeit for ivy league students.

Pablo Norte said...

When you know which career you want to take, it doesn't matter if there's gonna be hard to start something, If it's something you really love it wont matter, because you will work hard to prove that you are the best