Genuine advice series: Getting a literature (or any other) Ph.D. will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor.
This is the original slate article. This is coming from a PhD in literature fellow and who has found out after much work – dedicated work and to her amazement what PhD process exactly is. We will summarize a few sections.
…the “dusty seminar rooms” of academia have the chief aim of theorizing every great book to death? And I can’t even tell you what kind of ass you have to kiss these days to get tenure—largely because, like most professors, I’m not on the tenure track, so I don’t know.
the first part may be specific to literature but overall PhD will be doing a lot of futile work and on some ideas your professor probably knows is wrong but still wants you to peruse.
I now realize graduate school was a terrible idea because the full-time, tenure-track literature professorship is extinct. After four years of trying, I’ve finally gotten it through my thick head that I will not get a job—and if you go to graduate school, neither will you.
If you are a PhD student and is thinking, “come on, this may only be partial truth”, please do yourself a favor, ask around your colleagues to find out what is “full truth” about academic career. You are smart, let us know how fast you can bail out the PhD trap.
Some professors have to die before a position opens up
tenure-track positions in my field have about 150 applicants each. Multiply that 0.6 percent chance of getting any given job by the 10 or so appropriate positions in the entire world, and you have about that same 6 percent chance of “success.” If you wouldn’t bet your life on such ludicrous odds, then why would you bet your livelihood?
Yes, many PhD’s will NOT play lotteries under ANY circumstances, YET – will play the PhD game for SIX years or more. If you are smart, you SHOULD know sooner than later, the eventuality of pursuit.
By the time you finish—if you even do—your academic self will be the culmination of your entire self, and thus you will believe, incomprehensibly, that not having a tenure-track job makes you worthless. You will believe this so strongly that when you do not land a job, it will destroy you, and nobody outside of academia will understand why. (Bright side: You will no longer have any friends outside academia.)
It may be time to retire permanently or do a useful MS degree in something.