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Don’t Go to Graduate School!

An academic writes an article warning students not to go to graduate school. Also advice for those who must go and 5 virtues of successful graduate students.

Professionalism obligates people to speak positively about their alma mater in public. Grad school is not all fun and personal enrichment for many people. It can involve poverty-level wages, uncertain employment conditions, contradictory demands by supervisors, irrelevant research projects, and disrespectful treatment by both the tenured faculty members and the undergraduates (both of whom behave, all too often, as management and customers.) Grad school is a confidence-killing daily assault of petty degradations. All of this is compounded by the fear that it is all for nothing; that you are a useful fool.

Personal Note: As someone who entered two graduate programs (creative writing and instructional technology), taught at colleges for 4 years and entertained delusions of a tenure-track position, I can vouch for the wisdom of this man. Interestingly, I found great teaching positions in Eastern Europe, positions I wouldn’t have been allowed to touch with a ten-foot pole in the States. Given the rising educational costs and the dwindling numbers who can afford to pay them, it seems inevitable that the tenure track system will die of its own. On the other hand, part-time teaching is doing rather well, especially in those professions that promise some sort of professional reward. For me, literature studies is out of the question, but in my job as technical writer I have to deal with issues of content management, formatting, templates, using technology to enhance your content and varying information design strategies. With these professional skills, I can equip myself with skills to put together some content repositories or fansites or ezines (and might someday be able to get paid to teach these subjects). I’m not saying that my current job satisfies all my needs; but it offers some freedoms when compared to the penniless drudgery of academia.

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