PhD its Own Reward
TAS’ Matt Feeney has a longish post refuting the “PhD Trap” meme. The short version of the latter is that completing a PhD requires sacrifice of a lot of time, money, and energy and it’s likely to be wasted when you fail to land a tenure-track job teaching college. The short version of Feeney’s retort is that grad school can be quite rewarding if you play the game well and no one says you’ve got to teach college when you finish. Or even that you have to finish.
That’s quite right. For reasons that I only partly understand, it’s quite common to spend three years slaving away to get a law degree with no intention of ever becoming a practicing attorney but almost no one gets a humanities PhD intending to work outside academe. Yet, the learned skill sets from both degrees have substantial overlap and can be applied to similar non-traditional jobs.
It’s quite possible to live “the life of the mind” doing something other than teaching college. And, indeed, to make more money at it than you’ll make on the tenure track.
Cartoon by Jorge Cham