Friday, October 05, 2007
Bad life decisions
There is a really funny Simpsons' episode that most graduate students know and love. Bart Simpson comically retorts that graduate students aren't bad people, they just make bad life choices.

The NYT pretty much sums up why the PhD is such a bad life decision.

The average PhD takes 8 years, 50% of people quit mid-way, and upon graduation (at a ripe old age of 32) are 50,000 in debt. Nothing like starting a career at 32.


The article, though, made me thankful for my program. Almost all people here finish in 4 years. And we're financially supported throughout our time. We also have the opportunity to work with amazing faculty and forge great friendships. The article doesn't speak to the benefits of continuing your education. And often I don't focus on those benefits either.

The top five reasons I'm happy to be a PhD student:

1. I'm getting (minimally) paid to think and develop ideas about really important issues of our time.

2. Every T/TH I have two classes filled with 43 students. The classroom space is such a rich place for great conversation, learning and activism. I've really grown to love teaching. And I think this is, in part, because I consider the classroom a political space. Not a space to brainwash or manipulate (a la Horowitz) but a space to encourage critical thinking and inspire the students to go out and get involved.

3. I have great colleagues and classmates. Since we have such a small program, I know everyone and their work, ideas and strengths. My classmates are my greatest academic resources.

4. My fabulous faculty. I get upset when I hear people criticize PhD programs as "cut throat" and "isolated." If that is the case, you are in the wrong program. Our faculty give up money so we have travel funding. They serve as mentors and cheerleaders. They encourage us to take risks with our work and thinking and they don't laugh at us when we fail.

5. College towns. I love where I live. Love this town and look forward to being able to relocate in another college town when I get a job.

Take that, NYT! I will not succumb to your negativity.



Blogger Matt said...

#6) You should always have a captive audience for an intellectual conversation in your workplace. I cannot stress how much I *hate* this about working in the corporate-ish world. I'm surrounded by either ignorant people or people too lazy to care about things going on in the world.

Blogger kristen said...

This is so, so true.

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