Books for the News, Literature, Politics and Current Events

“So What Are You Going to Do with That?”

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In one of the many articles that have appeared recently about higher education during the recession—covering everything from increased applications to the reshuffled popularity of different fieldsSlate asks whether advanced education really pays off during times like these. Laurel, one of the many students whose experiences the article cites in formulating an answer, has a familiar story:
“Many of the academic jobs that I applied to were cancelled,” Laurel writes. “I’ve been scouring Craigslist but thus far I haven’t found a position that requests familiarity with obscure art historical literature from the 18th century written in Serbo-Croatian.… I am hurdling toward being the saddest type of graduate student—the one who has finished and is at a loss for what to do next. I’m going to be the one sitting on the front steps of that Ivory Tower with my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands just begging to be let back in.”
But Laurel has other options, as Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius point out in “So What Are You Going to Do with That?”—which explains why the paths leading away from the Ivory Tower can be just as rewarding for the tens of thousands of Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s who leave grad school every year. Designed for anyone contemplating the jump from scholarship to the outside world—whether by choice or necessity—“So What Are You Going to Do with That?” covers topics ranging from career counseling to interview etiquette to translating skills learned in the academy into terms an employer can understand and appreciate.
And that’s a skill whose value any new graduate can appreciate.