Reasons Not to Go to Grad School?, Part III

And there is even more mind-numbing silliness from a blogger that a popular academic resource has found necessary to promote.

11. The huge patriarchal bugbear of not fulfilling your God-given role of making babies because of being pushed off your rightful path in life had to be brought out by this blogger at some point and, of course, it was:

More than a quarter of women in their early forties with graduate or professional degrees are childless.

Evidently, the idea that not all women might even be interested in childbirth does not visit the warped mind of this unintelligent creature. If a woman doesn’t have a baby, she must be intensely miserable. She probably spends her life crying hysterically into her pillow, jealous of all those friends who “passed her by” and have been happily pushing put one kid after another while getting enormous salaries at jobs with no competition, no stress, no need for self-discipline, and no fear of getting fired.

12. It will “complicate your marriage” because you will, apparently, feel envious of your spouse’s higher salary. My husband did not choose to work in academia and, instead, found a job in the corporate world. As a result, he now makes almost twice as much as I do. Shockingly, it has not “complicated” our marriage because we love each other and do not compete as to who makes more money. I can only reiterate what I said in the previous post about stupid, miserable gits who see people’s worth exclusively in terms of how much material goods they can accumulate.

13. Work is hard. Especially when you are in the wrong profession:

Grading is miserable. If Dante had been familiar with graduate school, he probably would have added a level of Hell to his Inferno. The condemned would sit for all eternity and read one mediocre essay after another, meticulously correct every mistake, agonize over every grade, and then throw each graded essay into a fire.

I know somebody who is in sales, which, for me, is the definition of hell. She, however, digs her job. Some people enjoy grading, some love selling, others are into treating patients, programming, cooking, etc. It is extremely stupid  to say, “I hate grading, which means that everybody else on this planet must hate it either.”

14. And the most bizarre reason I have found so far:

There are few tangible rewards. When you build a house, paint a painting, bake a cake, or clean a room, you can step back and see what you have accomplished. Whether you work alone or in a team, being able to contemplate the finished product of your labors is a satisfying experience, a reward for your work.

After reading this post, I started asking myself whether I had been making fun of a mentally challenged individual this entire time. Nobody with their intellectual capacities intact could come up with something like this. A philosopher, a poet, a teacher, a social worker, a counselor, a political activist are supposed to be less fulfilled than a person who has cleaned a room because their work does not always produce a physical object? So all intellectual professions are useless because you can’t touch the product of their labor? When my students who didn’t speak a word of Spanish before joining our department come to my office and tell me in a beautiful Spanish that they have been reading Lope de Vega for fun, this is less rewarding than baking a cake because you can eat a cake but can’t eat a student’s intellectual progress? Yes, let’s all dedicate our lives to cooking, cleaning, baking, and counting money instead.

15. After the previous “reason”, the very first post on the 100 Reasons blog sounds especially delightful:

The smart people are somewhere else.

Something tells me that this particular blogger would not be able to recognize a smart person if their life depended on it because he or she is definitely lacking in the brains department.

So if you are looking for a place with “smart people”, do not go to the 100 Reasons blog.

And to conclude this series of posts, I will give you the only real reason not to go to grad school (or not to get married, not to date, not to become a doctor, not to go into sales, not to have children, etc.). Don’t do all these things if you don’t want to do them. No other reason or justification is necessary.

Reasons Not to Go to Grad School?, Part II

To continue my analysis of yet another blog that spreads stupid lies about the world of academia.

7. Grad school is more stressful than other kinds of work because it’s useless. Or something.

Graduate school is stressful. Sometimes it is terribly stressful. Stress is virtually unavoidable in any kind of work, but there is a peculiar quality to the stress of graduate school. The worst thing about it is the fact that it is caused by things that really do not matter. No one’s life (not even yours) depends on your meeting thesis deadlines, on your comprehensive exams, or on your finishing a dissertation.

This is obviously written by a person who has never even tried to imagine what the corporate environment is like. This blogger has probably never tried talking to people in sales or in recruitment (to give just two examples) who have a huge billboard with the amount of money they need to make this week in the middle of the office. Such people have nightmares for years about not being able to meet the “objectives” that are inflated beyond all reason on purpose. Nobody’s life depends on meeting those objectives either but the terror of not meeting them every month is daunting.

8. Something is wrong with the fact that not everybody gets the exact same salary:

The academic salary structure seems to be designed to maximize demoralization. On every campus, the faculty members in some disciplines earn more than their colleagues in other disciplines. But worse are the differences within departments, where young academics considered to be up-and-coming stars can be hired at higher salaries than those earned by their senior colleagues.

Only a very deluded person who hasn’t read a single book in their life would come up with the idea that merit-based salaries demoralize. As somebody who was born in the USSR, I can tell you that what really demoralizes and makes people stop working altogether is precisely giving everybody the same salary. My blog is read by people who have an IQ that is higher than the room temperature, so I will not explain why that happens.

9. The following “reason” made me laugh until I choked:


Teaching is less and less rewarding.

This sounds like a 90-year-old gentleman telling a 20-year-old guy, “Look, kid, I really pity your generation. I’m noticing that sex is getting less and less rewarding with every passing year. It scares me to think that people of your generation will not get to enjoy the kind of great sex I had when I was young.” As I said many times before, the moment when you start feeling that younger generations are worse than you were at that age, congratulations, buddy, you have officially become an irrelevant old fart, even if you are only 25.

10. One of the more egregious “reasons” is the following:

Your friends pass you by. For graduate students, nothing drives home the fact that graduate school delays adulthood more clearly than observing friends who choose a different path. You may enter graduate school with the belief that an extra degree or two will give you an advantage in life, but while you are concentrating on gaining an advantage, your friends are concentrating on life. They may never turn into millionaires—though that is far more likely in the real world than in the academic one—but they probably will pass you by.

In this blogger’s mind, life is an endless competition with one’s own friends as to who makes more money. Is there a more miserable, disgusting attitude to life than this?  Honestly, I couldn’t say whether I “passed my friends by” or they “passed me by.” I just don’t see life in these pathetic, ultra-competitive terms. One must be a really nasty human being to sit there and calculate whether one has accumulated more money than one’s friends, shaking with terror that if a friend has a higher salary, this somehow means that one is less successful. Normal people want their friends to be happy and successful on their own terms. Gosh, you have to be a truly miserable git to compete with people you supposedly love in who has a higher salary.

The 100 Reasons blogger doesn’t even realize how horrible this way of thinking makes them sound:

They will also be buying cars and houses, getting married, and having children. They may even take an expensive vacation or two. It can be hard to relate to old friends who live in a world increasingly different from your own, and even harder to make new ones.

If you are even remotely capable of feeling resentful that your friend – a friend, damn it! A person you are supposed to care about – took a vacation, then you have issues that no amount of going or not going to grad school will cure. My best friend, who is also my much younger sister, did not go to grad school. She went into the industry, has become wildly successful, and can now afford many more trips, beautiful clothes, cars, etc. than I can. Instead of sitting here in resentment, cursing my sister’s success and calculating by how much she has “passed me by” (and what a disgusting expression that is in this context), I, as a normal person, celebrate her success. It makes me happy that she has found her calling in the corporate world while I have found my calling in academia.

[To be continued. . .]

Reasons Not to Go to Grad School?, Part I

What I find really annoying is that Inside Higher Ed does not promote good blogs like mine which offer great advice to budding academics (see previous post for one example among many) and, instead, promotes stupid, poorly written whinefests for people who hate academia and invent idiotic reasons to explain that hatred. A blog called “100 Reasons NOT to Go to Grad School” is a case in point.

I will not address all of the so-called reasons the grievously confused author of that blog provides because there are already 80 of them. I’ll just discuss a few so that you get the general picture.

1. The most recent reason is the following:

When will you finish? Of all of the awkward questions that you are asked in graduate school, this one is the cruelest. It is also the one that you are asked more often than any other. Whether asked innocently (as it often is) or laced with judgment (as it often is), the question presents the same problem.

Oh, the tragedy. People might show interest in what you are doing. How will a poor little baby deal with that? The answer is clear, don;t go to grad school because that will guarantee that you will never get asked any questions like “So when will you finish this project?”, “When are you finally going to get promoted?”, “When will you be allowed more freedom on your job?” No, that never happens to anubody except grad students.

2. Then there is this:

Graduate school is hard on your mental health, but it is also hard on your physical health. As a grad student, you spend a long time in relative poverty, and healthy living and poverty seldom go hand-in-hand. Your diet is more likely to consist of cheap processed foods than wholesome fare. Your bus rides are especially crowded during the flu season.

Because as we all know, nobody but grad students eat processed foods and traveled on the bus. All of those people taking buses, they must be grad students. Not going to grad school is a guarantee that you will be able to eat organic and drive a limousine.

3. And, of course,

 There is a culture of fear.

Which is so totally absent in the non-academic workplace where you can be fired at will at any moment in time. What I find especially funny is that all these detractors of academia are extremely stupid people. The unenlightened author of this blog is dense enough not to realize that fear has an internal locus of control. If you want to indulge in being terrified of life, you find ample opportunities to do so even sitting in a mansion and going over the bank statement showing that you have millions in your bank account.

4. Academic conferences are stressful or something:

The largest academic conferences can be highly depressing affairs involving thousands of participants and hundreds of desperate job seekers nervously waiting to be interviewed in hotel rooms.

Yes, if you are a blubbering fool who has nothing to say but is trying to pretend like s/he needs to be among intelligent people, then you will be stressed. If, however, you dig your field and love sharing knowledge, you will have a blast at academic conferences.

5. Then, the blogger really made me laugh by communicating the following bit of wisdom:

In August 2011, Yale University released the results of a remarkable study of its own graduate school. Among other things, it found that even at Yale only 68% of those who had begun a PhD program in the humanities between 1996 and 2003 had earned a PhD by 2010 (see Reason 46). But most striking was a calculation of how much, on average, each Yale graduate student had cost the graduate school over a six-year period: $17,421 in the natural sciences, $126,339 in the social sciences, and $143,170 in the humanities.

As somebody who did graduate from Yale with a PhD and is intimately aware of the intra-university politics, In know exactly why this stupid, completely misleading information was published. And I am capable of analyzing such studies and figuring out what political purposes they serve precisely because I went to grad school. And also because I have a brain, which is a concept that the 100 Reason blogger is not familiar with.

6. This is also a funny reason:

The tenure track is brutal.

As somebody who just went through the midpoint tenure review, I can say that the tenure track rocks. You get to see your professional life as a journey that is mapped out for you by your senior colleagues who help you travel it. Everything you do contributes to your progress, and there is a very clear goal in sight. Brutal? Being unemployed and struggling to find a low-paying, boring job is brutal. Teaching twice a week, working on research, traveling to conferences, and getting paid for doing what you adore in the expectation of getting paid even more in six years is paradise. Maybe not being a spoiled brat who finds the prospect of having to work to be “brutal” would help one get that perspective.

[To be continued. . .]