Interesting that the predicament many of us face is gaining national attention. What are people considering as alternatives? And what has worked for people who have faced this same issue and decided to bail over the past few years?
Date: 28 Feb 2015 14:30
Number of posts: 4
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Good read. Seems focused on STEM Ph.D.s.
I'm TT right now, on the market looking for an upgrade. I understand the criticism of too many Ph.D.s being churned out, seems right to me. But for that matter, there are too many BA and BS degrees being churned out. College has become the new high school, and so it makes sense that MAs are the new college, and Ph.D. the new MAs.
I know many Ph.D. grads who strike me as uneducated - except for their little research domain. Well-rounded academics … not quite.
In other words, the problem strikes me as rather complex. It's too easy to say, "Stop producing all these Ph.D. grads, there aren't enough jobs!" The glut of Ph.D.s seems to be fallout from the glut of undergrad degrees. We wish to distinguish ourselves from others, to 'advance' in our education, to secure higher credentials. It is a trickle up effect.
I remember Clinton stating, "I believe that every American should have a college degree". I thought it absurd at the time, still do. Obama seems to be correcting the course, emphasizing community college (misnamed, that) and practical job training.
So who is ready to return to the good old days, when college was for the elite, for the few? I am, but I doubt that many of you are.
I see what qwerty is saying and agree to some degree (especially given that I teach very "average" students), but until we make our K-12 education better, I think even "average" kids do need college. The liberal arts degree helps you learn not only important thinking and communicating skills that can be used in any job, but also just how to be a better citizen and thoughtful person. I do NOT think everyone needs college, but I'd feel better about reducing the number of college graduates if we had a stellar public education system in this country.
As for the problem that "a glut of problems" mentioned, I think it's quite complex and only has a little bit to do with there being so many PhDs. Because even among those with elite training, it is still quite hard to find a job. I think the problem has much more to do with the reduction of TT lines at most schools, and an overall reduction of resources across the board. These reductions have occurred because colleges truly are hurting financially. Everyone blames it on administrative bloat but in some cases even drastic administration cuts wouldn't bring the college back to the good old days financially. There's also heavy tuition discounting going on (though that's nice for the students!) and huge cuts to any public funds colleges receive (whether the college is public or private.)
New hires are expected to do more for less money, and given the market, schools can get away with this for now. But the bubble will burst. People will stop enrolling in PhD programs, and top talent with PhDs will go elsewhere, refusing to take these punishing jobs (this is already happening). On the plus side, the academic job market will eventually become less competitive than it is now. But people will be competing over less and less desirable jobs. I think that our inability to invest in education (both "higher" and "lower") is causing the quality of all but the most elite of our institutions to go down considerably. What will probably also happen is that some of the small endowment, tuition-driven schools will shut down, thereby possibly solving the problem qwerty mentioned. It will mess up the job search, but maybe PhD granting institutions can wise up and offer more practical training and/or a reduction in their incoming class sizes.