Monday, April 29, 2013

Rothman on graduate school decisions

Joshua Rothman has written an essay in the New Yorker about the decision to go, or not to go, to graduate school. It’s a topic that always comes up as graduating seniors plan for what is coming next (of course, it’s better if they think about this as first semester juniors, or even earlier). I like Rothman’s emphasis on the complexity of the decision, and the number of ways that it can turn out unexpectedly. He links to some recent columns and debates about grad school and the prospects for grad students, but his own piece emphasizes how difficult it is to judge ten years of one’s life. Perhaps that’s why I am sympathetic, because I spend all of the 1990s in graduate school. The statistic that was most interesting to me was this one: in English (which is a debatable but useful discipline to compare with Anthropology), oneout of every four PhD students ends up with tenure. One half drops out before getting their PhD, and another half of that don’t end up in tenured professorships. What I am trying to figure out this morning is whether this seems like a low number or a high number, compared with Anthropology.

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