Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation

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The grad school trap

William Deresiewicz has written a refreshingly honest essay on the terrible job crisis in academe. It does a fine job of plainly describing the problems that have made the academic job market toxic.

Aside from the Thomas H. Benton essays in The Chronicle of Higher Education (for so long a lone voice in the wilderness), there has been little public acknowledgement of the hopeless situation facing tens of thousands of graduate students.

Graduate school has, quite simply, become a trap for young adults. They walk into it unknowingly because they have been lied to, or, at the very least, they have not been given full information. These are obviously not stupid people, but universities have an interest in keeping prospective graduate students ignorant of the reality that awaits them after years of work toward a degree. Universities succeed in coaxing more people into the trap every year.

Victims of the grad school trap (such as the authors of blogs like 100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School) have done their part to get the message out, but it is gratifying to see The Nation drawing attention to the fact that a PhD is becoming a ticket to part-time temporary employment (if you can find it).