Comments on: Back to the future: $1.6 million Mellon grant for “broader career paths” http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 17:08:06 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: anonymous grad http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1966000 Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:33:15 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1966000 MA programs that don’t require debt for tuition or living expenses are wonderful gems! It seemed to me that they are rare even for terminal MAs, but it was also just me & the internet when I was applying, so I might’ve missed a lot. I wonder if there’s a centralized list out there now.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1965982 Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:45:38 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1965982 Good points, anonymous grad. You describe my thinking exactly when I entered my Ph.D. program 24 years ago. I didn’t have any real plans or ideas as to how to make my way, and getting paid the princely sum of $7200/yr. to read books and be part of a university community seemed like a great deal.

I will quarrel with what you said about your point that “MAs cost a LOT of money.” Most Ph.D.-granting programs charge cash of M.A. students, but if you find a strong M.A. program in a department where that’s the highest degree, you might get paid cash money on top of having your tuition paid, too. At least, that’s the case at Baa Ram U., where we offer students a degree that makes them fully employable in public history or secondary school teaching in two years, for free plus a stipend for serving as a grader.

It’s a pretty damn good deal, friends. Students can get a degree that makes them working historians without taking on debt, if they live simply for those two years. Furthermore, we have a great record of getting people paid employment over the summers.

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By: anonymous grad http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1965972 Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:17:32 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1965972 I think what Aro said is pretty powerful – sure, if you were going directly into finance or consulting right after college, a PhD does involve missing out on your “prime earning years.” But what if you weren’t a Harvard graduate with the clear alternative of walking out into a high-paying job in finance? What if you’re someone more average, and your first couple years after college aren’t “prime earning years,” they’re years when you are struggling to move up from part-time, really poorly paid jobs into the “grown-up”, professional, full-time jobs with benefits you thought a college degree would help you to get?

Then maybe everyone you talks to tells you that your options are to tread water and hope to eventually move up within one organization, or get a master’s, because that’s what most people above you have (in my case, in the overcrowded museum field!). And you don’t get other advice from your elders, because your parents don’t understand why jobs don’t fall out of the sky for smart people anymore. Then you find out that MAs cost a LOT of money, which you do not have, and PhDs PAY you, maybe even more than you’re making now, with income guaranteed for a few years, and that sounds like a great deal!

That was my thinking, at least, and I know plenty of others who thought the same thing. In my early 20s, graduate school wasn’t an “expensive conversation piece,” it offered financial security. Five years later, I see that struggling for most of your 20s can eventually lead to better things, but the years that I’ve spent in grad school were not “prime earning years” for most of my friends, and they were harder years than I’ve had for some. Of course, starting over several years behind is definitely a disadvantage – and how I wish someone had told me that a PhD could actually hurt your chances for jobs that didn’t require it, that never would have occurred to me! But I think it’s important not to romanticize what the alternatives are for recent college graduates today. I agree that the problem is not just “too many PhDs,” it’s too few secure, full-time, benefit-inclusive jobs, period.

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By: That Awkward Protestantism | PhDe-stressed http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1965275 Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:01:44 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1965275 […] was going to write more on the subject of reading, but I was distracted by a conversation over at Historiann, where the comments thread┬árevealed what is probably one of the most pernicious, and most […]

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By: nicoleandmaggie http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1964534 Sun, 30 Mar 2014 17:28:09 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1964534 @Aro–
It seems especially bizarre when the main point of a PhD is supposed to be to train people how to think and how to learn independently. Those are skills that should provide *more* rather than *less* flexibility.

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By: Aro http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1964505 Sun, 30 Mar 2014 15:58:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1964505 These discussion seem to reveal something that to my European eye seems particularly American (sorry for the generalization) – a way of making judgements of character based on the idea that a person’s career decisions should only be based on the maximization of one’s “prime earning years”.

Because, of course, people make career decisions all the time based on far broader considerations than “earning potential”. I know people who went to do PhD because they liked the hours. Because it was steady (although not particularly well-paying) employment for six years during a recession. Because it allowed them to travel or live in places they would otherwise not be able to. Because they thought their particular, non-academic interests were well-served by academic training. Because they liked the people.

This idea that once people are out of college, they’re no longer allowed to experiment, try out different things, change careers mid-way through, seems pretty damn outmoded. Could you imagine if you told someone who went into consulting that they would be wasting their prime intellectual development years if six years later they decided to change careers? Too late to become a teacher now, you failure of a consultant. I agree with sophylou, this seems to indicate that academics valorize their profession to an unhealthy degree – when really it is time to wake up and realize that in this 21st century, precariated, high-speed world, everybody changes careers at 30 for all sorts of reasons and it’s /pretty damn okay/.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1961102 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 18:20:24 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1961102 The blog post and comments at nicoleandmaggie’s place are really good. Anyone still interested in this conversation should head over there.

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By: nicoleandmaggie http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1960897 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:46:22 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1960897 Today’s our post on tt jobs as the only option. Are PhDs really useless except for teaching in tt jobs? I would have thought there was a value to learning to do research and to think like a historian. Or is that only imparted at the masters level and the remaining 5+ years completely useless unless you’re going to teach undergrads or work at a museum? That’s a pretty depressing waste if true (maybe arguing we should get rid of the field of history entirely if taken to an extreme!). I sure hope it isn’t.

http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/why-are-academic-jobs-seen-as-the-holy-grail-or-only-grail-in-fields-with-the-worst-job-markets/

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By: sophylou http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1960887 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:24:09 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1960887 @rustonite: Really don’t need this ”splained to me, thanks. The “expensive conversation piece” bit is an example of the kind of attitude Tenured Radical is talking about, down to the use of the word “fail,” and grad students and faculty both can have it. While academics being willing to not view people who go to alternate careers as “failing” won’t necessarily create jobs for PhDs, it *would* go a long way towards acknowledging that too few jobs + too many PhDs is going to mean rethinking what a PhD offers in terms of skills etc. Deciding that a PhD qualifies you for one thing and one thing only means it may be harder to retool should circumstances leave you unable to get employment doing that one thing.

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By: rustonite http://www.historiann.com/2014/03/21/back-to-the-future-1-6-million-mellon-grant-for-broader-career-paths/comment-page-1/#comment-1960638 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 07:21:51 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22502#comment-1960638 @Ellie: re: irresponsible admissions: For next year, we’ve admitted 15 new students to our medieval Europe PhD program.

There are 33 programs in North American that offer PhDs in medieval history. If every other program admitted only 1 student this year, then that’s 15+32 = 47 in this year’s cohort. If they were as irresponsible as we were…let’s not think about that, actually.

This year there were only about 20 medieval jobs in North America (depending on how you define medieval). I can’t imagine the market is going to improve significantly by the time this year’s cohort finishes. So….yeah.

@sophylou: failure is probably too harsh a word, but a PhD who fails to get an academic position has earned a very expensive conversation piece. even if you get out of grad school with no debt (which Dr. Karen demonstrated isn’t common), getting a PhD in history takes 5 to 10 of your prime earning years. if you were just going to end up in finance or IT anyway, it’s better to go directly there. You can value the humanities without wasting your 20s and early 30s training for a job you’ll never have.

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