Everybody knows the dice are loaded

14 10 2013

If you are in the social sciences or humanities: do not get a PhD.

Nothin’ against the PhD—I quite like having mine—but the time it will take you to get your degree, and the income you forgo in the long slog through coursework, research, and dissertation, isn’t worth it, because the jobs aren’t there.

(If you are independently wealthy and/or are not planning to use your PhD to crack into the academy, and you only  want to engage in deep study of subject, go for it: at a good program, you will learn more than you could dream of. But for everyone else. . . ?)

Oh, the adjunct positions are there, plenty o’ those, but full-time jobs (be they tenure-track or long-term contract) in academia, with good pay and benefits and support for professional development? Nope.

Oh, some folks are working in those unicorn-and-pony FTE tenure-track positions, working their ways from assistant to associate to full prof, and I don’t begrudge them their good fortune. While there may have been some luck in landing the jobs initially (when hundreds of people apply for a single opening, the one person who closes the deal is not just able, but also lucky), most of those professors have worked very hard to secure themselves in that track.

But the hundreds who applied and didn’t even get a cursory “nevermind”, much less an interview? Some of them lucked out elsewhere, but many of them are, like me, adjuncts, and some have left academia altogether.

My situation may not be the norm insofar as I made certain (in retrospect, bad) decisions about my career in which I took myself out of the game early. I did have some luck, but not recognizing it as such, I tossed it aside. That’s on me.

But that a large majority of the US’s higher education system relies on PhDs to present themselves as professors to their students but are not treated as such by administrators? Uh uh. And as adjunct organizer Don Kovalic observes:

They’re also destroying the academy. Because as this happens, more and more students are going to ask, “why would I get a PhD? You want me to have a PhD to teach your students, yet why would I do that? Because it seems to me if I get a PhD, I’m going to end up making poverty wages. I can do that now without a PhD. I’ll go to Starbucks and do it.”

They’re destroying their own system, and they’re going to wake up and realize that students and parents have decided that there’s no use for the university anymore.

The game is rigged, only no one wins; it’s just that some lose more quickly than others.

If it’s not quite the academic version of MAD , what  Joshua said at the end of War Games, nonetheless seems a propros: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

h/t: dmf




One response

15 10 2013
Extraordinary Careers: The path to PhD | Media Diversity UK

[…] Everybody knows the dice are loaded (absurdbeats.net) […]

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