1. Work for a year before you go to college; you’ll get much more out of the experience, and you won’t need to borrow as much
2. Don’t major in English or history. It’s getting hard to overcome a poor major choice by going to grad school. (I say this as someone who … majored in English and then overcame a poor major choice by going to grad school.)
3. Don’t enroll in a master’s program unless you observe a lot of that program’s graduates are working in places you’d like to work, or you hear from someone in the field and geographic location that you want to work in that they hire out of that school. Many programs exaggerate the job-getting powers of their degree; they’ll parade graduates who got super lucky, or happened to be the son of the owner of the firm, without letting you know how unusual these cases are.
4. Do not, under any circumstances, get a PhD unless the program is going to fully fund you. LIke Laura, I think a humanities PhD is a bad idea—not because I hate learning, or pointy-headed academics, but because if you enroll in a PhD program, one of the following four things is almost certain to happen: 1) you will drop out before you complete your dissertation. 2) You will fail to land a tenure track job and eventually give up having spent 6-10 years of your life making yourself less employable than a newly minted college grad. 3) You will land a tenure track job and not get tenure. 4) You will get tenure somewhere where you don’t want to live, or somewhere far distant from anywhere that a current or future spouse could possibly find rewarding work.
The odds of actually ending up with a cool job in a good location are very, very, very small. No, this does not just happen to folks unlike yourself, who really arent’ that smart; it happens to good people all the time. The professors who are suggesting otherwise are people have have won the lottery. Do not listen to them about the advisability of buying some tickets in the academic equivalent of the Powerball.
But I digress. If you do decide to get a PhD program anyway, do not under any circumstances enroll in a program that won’t fully fund you. That program is telling you that they do not think you will get a job in the field after you graduate. Moreover, they are not going to invest any serious resources in you, in the form of mentorship or professional opportunities, because those things are in limited supply, and they are not going to waste them on someone who isn’t going to get a job. Also, you’ll graduate with a terrible debt load, but that’s almost secondary to the extremely dim job prospects you will have when you complete your degree.
(via The Daily Beast). I agree with most of what she said… (and the list she posted to start off her article from someone else, which I did not include in the quoted list above). I think the major choice is almost irrelevant though, depending on what you want to do. If you want to go to med school but love English, then be an English major and enjoy your college classes while you’re struggling through the med school prerequisites (or in my friend’s case, be a dance major while taking organic chemistry).
I still don’t agree with this emphasis on Math and Sciences as if they’re the ONLY things that our students need to study…
They’re needed, but not everyone can be an Engineer or a Medical Doctor
THIS. And re: my previous post and expanding on my unpopular opinions as a higher education professional: not everyone needs to go to college, either.
I’m currently reading this book (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking), and it’s not necessarily telling me anything I didn’t already know, but it’s written in a way that expands on some concepts and goes a bit more in-depth. Most importantly, though, it profiles some introverts and the way they respond in the world. I’m currently on a chapter that talks about introverts in college, and how they react in discussion-based courses. It resonates a lot with me, because I’ve been there. Officially on the MBTI, I’m a very mildly expressed introvert (usually about 1-5 on the scale, and once I tested as a 1 extrovert). I know that I’m likely a bit more clearly introverted than that, but the way the assessment asks questions and my performing arts background, some of my answers are more in line with extroverts. Also, after a drink or two I can definitely crossover into slight extroversion, but as soon as it wears off I’d rather be in my room with a book or a movie and my cat than in a room full of people I don’t know.
Back to the point of my post: College professors need to read this, or at least the chapters on the classroom experience. It’s especially important for professors who use participation as a significant part of the grade (hello, grad school).
I’m in a discussion based course now where participation is a huge part of our grade, but there are only 6 other students so it’s not as intimidating (really it’s more like a conversation). My class of 30 students where participation was 25% of our grade terrified me. I’ve found myself having to work extra hard to pre-plan what I wanted to say as my daily contribution (to the point of actually making notes), and hoping that the time would come in the discussion where it would be relevant. And if, God forbid, someone says my thought before me, then I freak out because I don’t have anything to say and won’t get my daily participation points. It’s crazy stressful. On several occasions I’ve had to email professors and let them know that I’m an introvert and that my lack of speaking doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention or thinking about the concepts. (This was a result of a professor in one class emailing me to tell me I wasn’t participating enough and was at risk of getting a lower grade because of it, despite my written assignments being A grades. I then felt the need to let all my professors know that when surrounded by a large number of extroverts in a large classroom, I don’t always feel comfortable speaking extemporaneously.)
I know professors won’t always pick up on who is introverted and who is trying to skate by without doing the work, but since many of my professors have been the extroverted types, I think it would be beneficial for them to read this book to understand what we introverts feel like in these settings. I totally understand that participating in class is important, particularly in seminar and discussion-based courses, but when the professor sits in the corner and clearly puts a tally mark next to the students’ names each time they speak, it adds additional stress to those of us who take a little longer to form our thoughts and to work up the courage to speak up.