"I can only recommend graduate school in the humanities—and, increasingly, the social sciences and sciences—if you are independently wealthy, well-connected in the field you plan to enter (e.g., your mom is the president of an Ivy League university), or earning a credential to advance in a position you already hold, such as a high-school teacher, and even then, a master's degree is enough."
This was preamble to a call to reform higher education. Fine. But when an author leads off by telling people like me that non-vocational graduate education is not for us, I get pissy, and spend an hour writing and editing a long and very personal post.
Upon waking, I decided there were enough of these posts floating around out there (see below), so I didn't need to add another 1000 words to the soup. So how 'bout I just say to people from the losing side of the socio-economic gap** that:
1. ...academia is a tough path, and you should have no illusions that finishing a Ph.D. will land you a tenure-track job, and certainly not that it will catapult you into an economic bracket significantly better than that your parents had***; yet...
2. ...if you know these things, have asked yourself the hard questions, and you're still yearning to devote years of your life to something you love, maybe because when you're learning history, or literature, or invertebrate reproduction, you know that you're exactly where you're supposed to be, and if you've got a real talent for whatever it is and you can bust ass and get the work done, then don't you dare let any random blogger tell you that your choices are wrong, just because they're not economically practical.
Conclusion: Telling people what their priorities "should" be based primarily on their class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or whatever is the epitome of condescension. If you're doing it, knock it the hell off.
- Dr. Virago does a roundup.
- Karl Steel talks about rethinking his own identity within academia
- A post by newish blogger jsench, on why s/he had no regrets (or not many). A longish post, but worth a read if you've got 15 minutes or so.
- Dr. Crazy puts her critical theory chops to work on the whole debate, with some thought-provoking ideas about identity in academia.
**Now there's one thing I'd be happy to see named after Ronald Regan.
***I'm actually only marginally better-off (economically speaking) than my parents were at my age, and that's only because I have no children to support. And if you factor in my debt and their real assets, I'm much worse off.