Books for the News

The crisis of graduate education

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A recent article in the New York Times on the folly of pursuing a PhD in the humanities—a mistake which a few people apparently continue to make—begins:

Law students get a diploma in three years. Medical students receive an M.D. in four. But for graduate students in the humanities, it takes, on average, more than nine years to complete a degree. What some of those Ph.D. recipients may not realize is that they could spend another nine years, or more, looking for a tenure-track teaching job at a college or university—without ever finding one.

The article goes on to make grad school sound like playing chicken with a black hole, and surely it will be the direct cause of more students jumping ship in hopes of finding safer harbor in the private sector. But does such safe harbor really exist? If you can’t hack it in grad school can you really do that much better in the “real world?”
In So What Are You Going to Do with That?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius—Ph.D.’s themselves—answer all those questions with a resounding “Yes!” A witty, accessible guide full of concrete advice for anyone contemplating the jump from scholarship to the outside world, “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. Packed with examples and stories from real people who have successfully made this daunting—but potentially rewarding—transition, and written with a deep understanding of both the joys and difficulties of the academic life, this fully revised and up-to-date edition will be indispensable for any graduate student or professor who has ever glanced at her CV, flipped through the want ads, and wondered, “What if?”
Read the rest of the article or see a website for the book.