Article: "The Ph.D. Now Comes with Food Stamps"

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by RoscoeB, May 9, 2012.

  1. RoscoeB

    RoscoeB Senior Member

  2. AV8R

    AV8R Active Member

    Yep, saw it yesterday. What did she really expect with a Ph.D. in medieval history?
  3. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    Thats one of those degrees you get because you enjoy the subject, already have a good job, and have the money and time to do it without expecting much in return beyond personal enrichment.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    I totally agree!
  5. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Working at Starbuck's while awaiting that one in a million chance at a professorship?
  6. carlosb

    carlosb New Member

  7. jumbodog

    jumbodog New Member

    Well, that second article was just a gibberish rant. I have no idea what his actual point was. I think it had something to do with choices.

    The problem with the idea of making better choices is that one's choices are confined to the information available to one. Higher Education goes to great lengths to make sure that the barriers to entry are minimal and information deficits about potential consequences are maximal. If we treated the purchase of "educational services" the way we do a home or a car there would be a vastly different landscape.

    If someone is on food stamps with a phd that's not just a problem with that person but with the system that produced that person.

    So then why are we, as a society, letting people who are not in that financial position purchase that degree? That's the heart of the matter. A car dealer is not going to loan 120K to a person making 18K a year so he can buy a Ferrari. And if the car dealer did make that type of loan that I wouldn't be at all sympathetic to his complaint that he lost money once the poor person defaulted.

    The author of that second article is correct that in an attenuated sense taxpayers via the food stamp program are subsiding her decision to get a phd in medieval studies. Yet that's a just result because it was those same taxpayers that funded a system that offered her that choice and allowed her to make that choice without ever ascertaining the social fitness of it. It's hypocrisy to blame her lack of personal responsibility when he's so busy dodging his own.
  8. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    Gotta be honest, I liked that article. He said what many are afraid to.
  9. dboven

    dboven New Member

    It seems like the number of people who are afraid to say something like this seems to be decreasing rapidly. The rise of the teaparty movement and libertarianism in general has made this group much more vocal/visible. In the increasingly polarized political climate, perhaps these words are politically correct after all. They are certainly appealing to a certain political subset of the American population.

    All that being said, I can certainly relate to much of the experience of the original article's subject. I've worked a few semesters as an adjunct professor to make ends meet. Who would have thought that it would be so difficult for teachers to find work. When I was studying for my undergraduate degree, I was assured that teaching was a recession-proof job.

  10. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    I dont think there's a "recession proof job" outside of maybe the medical field. And obviously we're not all cut out to do that kind of work. So we have to do the best we can with the interests and talents we have. And making smart choices will go a long way. A lot longer way then listening to what college reps tell us about particular degrees. Im sorry, but a PhD in Medieval History? What on earth did she think would happen with a degree in that???
  11. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    My undergrad history degree is specifically focused on Medieval Studies so I have some feedback on the field as it stood back in 2000. I was fortunate enough to have good connections, good internships and working specifically on the history and evolution of the Catholic Church.. point to this is I had an in to a Ph.D or other terminal degree at the College.

    My career options were tenure-track and continued research in that case and I was well-counseled that I'd be making nothing compared to my peers in other disciplines. (Thank you Northeastern) I walked away due to expecting more of a terminal education than 55k a year and great benefits. Note that this is with a terminal degree from an Ivy, 12 years ago.

    I imagine that the person in the article hadn't done the research on the field and hadn't gotten the advice I got. The other thing I'd also say is that the advent of online education and increased adjunct pool has really beaten the living hell out of liberal arts faculty positions and that's only gotten worse over the last 8-10 years. It's entirely possible that her career outlook was far better when she joined her program and drastically less so when she finished it.

    Important to note for this to make sense: The average history Ph.D takes 8-10 years to complete from a good school. This makes projecting career outcomes very difficult as what worked for one generation doesn't for the next and entirely well-meaning advice given by someone who has tenure and hasn't been looking for a gig for some time may simply assume things are good as ever. Perhaps it's just me or maybe it really is a larger problem in the field, but a lot of the best professors I had when coming up, were really, really detached from day to day stuff.

    If you don't know, and you don't ask the right people.. you can get sidetracked or in a bad spot. That's true of any discipline; not just history, depending on the economy.
  12. Cardinal Biggles

    Cardinal Biggles New Member

    That author is well named. Boor, indeed.
  13. dboven

    dboven New Member

    I hope I didn't imply that I made a decision based solely on the advice of people from my undergraduate college. I love teaching and really do enjoy helping students learn new things. I can't think of anything else that I'd rather do...I just thought I'd be able to find someone to pay me to do it.

  14. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    The purchase of educational services and the purchase of a home are both very similar: put yourself about $100,000 in hock and spend the rest of your life in debt peonage.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2012
  15. jokeruh

    jokeruh New Member

    Are you saying that Northeastern is Ivy League?
  16. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    Well, its a top tier school, so maybe thats why he thought it was an Ivy.
  17. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Northeastern is a very good school, but suffers from being in Boston. Those of us in the area break down the big universities into four tiers;

    1) Harvard

    2) Boston University, Boston College

    3) Northeastern

    4) University of Massachusetts-Boston
  18. carlosb

    carlosb New Member

    I liked it for the most part. I didn't get the hyphenated last name comment. What, if anything is supposedly wrong with a hyphenated last name?

    He did get the guessing an ankle tat comment right.
  19. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    My name is hyphenated. I dont see anything wrong with it. I do it because I want to have the same last name as both my kids. You never know the reason for it.
  20. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member

    I don't want to speak for ITJD, but I don't think he was implying that Northeastern was an Ivy. I THINK he was saying that his undergraduate degree from Northeastern and the connections he made gave him access to pursuing a PhD at an Ivy League school.

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