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Don't Go to Grad School

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Manton, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. imatlas

    imatlas Well-Known Member

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    This is really what I was responding too, and I'd like to think that I've cast at least some doubt on your proposition that a graduate with a BS in the humanities is less employable than a high school graduate with 4 years of work experience. If not, ask yourself which of these two would have an easier job getting an entry level job at a software company: a college graduate with a BA in french literature, or an experienced, licensed mechanic. Here's a hint: it's not the mechanic.
     
  2. austinite

    austinite Well-Known Member

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    My response is that the mechanic's job could very well pay more. I agree that shitty office jobs frequently require a degree. I don't think the humanities BS would be able to get a job as anything more than a receptionist, call center person, or MAYBE a commission-based sales role at this software company unless they had an enormous amount of hobbyist software experience. I will grant you that one can certainly move up the totem poll once they get their foot in. My take, however, is that most college graduates expect the world to be handed to them immediately upon receiving their degree, and my original example is that the humanities BS would see these receptionist and call-center offers, decide they are not good enough, and then enroll in grad school. This has to be at least half of the law school population.

    IMO, If your goal is to be gainfully employed, you are likely better off doing a two-year program to be an ambulance driver, an apprenticeship to be a plumber, a course to be a power line installer, etc than a 4 year degree in humanities at a state school. I think the college educated portion of our society really underrates this.
     
  3. scientific

    scientific Well-Known Member

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    advice is kind of pointless. the qualified sort themselves out. the rest go to humanities grad school. :teach:
     
  4. youngScholar

    youngScholar Well-Known Member

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    While someone may have great academic ability and (academic) work ethic, this may not actually translate into getting a good job. Profs may not even be considering the latter. If anything, the opinion seems to be that professors should take a harder line as to how they evaluate students for graduate school rather than effectively saying "You're brilliant!" and just writing letters of reference.
     
  5. gomestar

    gomestar Well-Known Member

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    UT System student population: 190,000
    Harvard student population: 7,100 undergrads and 14,000 postgrads
     
  6. imatlas

    imatlas Well-Known Member

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    So, the mechanic's job pays more, today. Big deal - after four years and a certificate, a mechanic is already close to his maximum lifetime earning potential. After a BA in French Literature, the entry level job at Google doing software localization might pay a bit less than the mechanic's job, but not much. It's also the starting point of a much higher overall earning potential - 3 to 5 years from now that person could easily be in a management position earning more than the SF baseline. It's easy for me to understand how a student of French Literature would sell her skills to a company like Google (translation, writing, working on team projects, etc), it's much harder for me to understand how the mechanic lands any job other than 'mechanic.' What can a mechanic do that would put him into that income bracket? Possibly, starting his own business, but even then it would have to be quite a successful shop for him to net $250K.

    As you say, if your goal is pure employability tomorrow, don't bother getting a humanities BA. If, on the other hand, your goal is to lay the groundwork for future advancement, it's difficult to see how the high school diploma or AA degree come close, ceteris parabis (ie leave Harvard out of the mix for once).
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2011
  7. scientific

    scientific Well-Known Member

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    right and how many slots are there for this? like 2 max and a BA from podunk u or even harvard will be vastly underqualified vs. any random native french speaker. also guessing french lit BAs are not great at coding. good luck w that
     
  8. youngScholar

    youngScholar Well-Known Member

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    So what if the mechanic does not make it to six-figures? Suppose he hits his earning potential in the high five-figures, while liking his job, raising a family, and keeping decent enough work hours to read in his spare time. Counter to much of what gets marketed today, you don't need to be a millionaire to live a pretty kick-ass life.

    That Google example . . . :cry
     
  9. austinite

    austinite Well-Known Member

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    Just out of curiosity, are you out of college or still in school? Getting a job at Google is pretty damn difficult. This hypothetical French Lit student would need very good grades, an excellent resume, and fantastic interview skills. Maybe he/she didn't go to an Ivy League school, but you are talking about a similar caliber of person nonetheless. 95-99% of undergraduate humanities majors will not fair this well.

    I might as well make up a hypothetical mechanic that makes millions per year based on his custom motorcycle reality show...
     
  10. youngScholar

    youngScholar Well-Known Member

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    Tangentially related: Forbes just came out with their ranking of undergraduate schools, and the results are interesting. More info.

    "The rankings are based on five general categories: Post Graduate success (30%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence, Student Satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates, Debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates, Four Year Graduation Rate (17.5%) and Competitive Awards (7.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright."
     
  11. arced

    arced Well-Known Member

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  12. thenanyu

    thenanyu Well-Known Member

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    The one who could write better code during an interview. The one who blogs about technology. The one who contributes to open source projects. The one who reads slashdot and proggit on a daily basis.
    Drawing conclusions for the general population from a survey of the very top executives is silly. Those people would have succeeded in life with or without school.

    Entry level office jobs are a joke these days. They are antiquated relics of a time before automation. My job is to eliminate entry-level office jobs. How big is the typing pool at your office?
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  13. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    Manton, excellent thread and those articles are also excellent.

    I know I've shared my experience of being recruited to upgrade my MPH to a Dr.PH. The master/slave mentality, the rigidly defined class roles, and general feeling of entitlement to both your tuition dollars and grateful subservience was amazing. Never mind my career has me earning 2-3 times what my erst while "superiors" do. I know as much as I want to have that "Dr." in front of my name I never will if that's how I have to get it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  14. Redwoood

    Redwoood Well-Known Member

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    Obviously, every university is different, and even departments within each university have different rules, but for my alma mater the general process is: in order to get a doctorate, you have to supply a thesis, along with required course-work, and whatever else is required along the way (seminars, thesis proposals, etc).
    There may be a minimum-term requirement, but that is all.
    You can't get around paying tuition, at least in many (not all!) universities in North America.

    All the other stuff, e.g., teaching, you do mainly to earn money.
    If you don't need the money, you can opt out of teaching assistant duties and, depending on your supervisor, research assistant duties as well.
    Again, this may differ depending on where you are.

    I never felt subservient to my doctoral supervisor and still hold him in the highest regard. He's a great person, colleague, and friend.

    Finally, I highly advise against doing all this work just to get a "Dr." in front of your name. Do it because you enjoy research, exploring new areas, adding knowledge, etc.
     
  15. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    Some of your comments are pretty damn concrete operational for a guy with a Ph.D! I mean, of course one needs to pay tuition but that really was not the point in my mentioning the need to pay tuition. Also, do you really think it's just the two letters I want? That this was not short hand for an entire suite of things?

    As to the thesis:

    I was recruited to be part of the first class of doctoral students where I obtained my master's degree. The two co-deans hosted the informational setting. When I inquired as to when one could start work on their thesis, they were aghast I had a topic (an extremely pertinent one, one that costs Medicare billions yearly and impacts 100's of thousands of patients and familes) and had already partnered with a nationally known physician to be my data gathering instrument. The looks they gave me were like I had just defecated on the floor and it was explained to me that this is "not how it's done!" I find an advisor and do the research this person wants, paying for the priviledge to do it, share any credit all after paying 10s of thousands in tuition for my course work.

    No thanks.
     
  16. Redwoood

    Redwoood Well-Known Member

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    Piob, that's a lousy sales pitch if I ever heard one.
    Did you talk to your Master's supervisor about this (or did you not have one)?

    However, it almost seems to me you wanted to do a PhD on your own without a supervisor, which is generally not done. Whether you want to join the ranks of PhDs or the Sith, always two there are...
    Seriously, though, there are at least two reasons for your research area and that of your supervisor to match
    1. Intellectually, they will be better able and more willing to help you in their area; conversely, you will better be able to help them. It's a collaborative process.
    2. Practically, PhD students often get paid through industry grants, which are tied to specific research proposals. So if you want to get paid as a research assistant, you need to work on these projects.

    When you apply to grad school, you submit your preferred area of research as part of the documentation. Professors then look through the pile to see if anything matches their interests. Then you would usually interview with the prof to make sure both of your visions match.
    If you already did your master's at the same institution, you should've gone around pitching your research to different profs. If it's as important as you say, I'm sure you would have found somebody.

    As to sharing credit, yes, you may have to depending on the prof, not for the thesis, but for papers.
    But could you do it on your own? Sometimes, you read some incredibly lousy papers, and you can't help but think that somebody tried to sneak something past their supervisor...
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  17. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    I was not looking to do it on my own and am not so callow as to think an adviser would not a) be assigned and b) offer helpful guidance. They specifically hand picked several "successful" local alums to fill 50% of the slots in this initial class. They specifically wanted to increase their profile by having already successful professionals in the program. They certainly did not act like they were dealing with successful adults but rather wayward children. I can think of any number of ways this could have been handled, in front of a group of adult professionals, that would have been acceptable to me. Their attitudes quite conveyed how they viewed the paradigm and apparently they thought they had something I wanted more than I had something they wanted. Sorry but the next lapdog can have my spot.

    As to getting paid, I guess you missed the part in my initial post mentioning I make 2-3 times what the departmental dean does? I would continue making that as I would take classes as things allowed. In fact, this is a professional degree designed for working professionals with most classes being offered in the late afternoon or evening. At least that part they got right.
     
  18. Gibonius

    Gibonius Well-Known Member

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    Not very convincing indeed. A couple people who made it and became professors, then a couple people who haven't even finished yet and are basically spouting the company line without any experience to back it up.
     
  19. Gibonius

    Gibonius Well-Known Member

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    I would be interested to see some statistics on this. I know close to everybody in the sciences gets a nice stipend and gets a full tuition waiver (or tuition paid, depending on the setup). Everyone that I know in the humanities has a tuition waiver and a fairly pitiful stipend, but none pay tuition. This is somewhat anecdotal, but I think a rather low fraction of doctoral students pay tuition.

    Much more common for master students to pay, of course.
     
  20. kwiteaboy

    kwiteaboy Well-Known Member

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    This is what I've seen at every school I looked at in psychology, too. In fact, professors said you absolutely should not be getting a PhD at a school where they expect you to pay for it. Professionally-oriented doctorates (e.g., PsyD, DrPH) are a different story.
     

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