the wrong side of the bed

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

long term

now that i have a grown up job, i have to think about my future. when i was a grad student and expected to one day be a professor, i just put parts of my growing up on hold, thinking that one day i would just magically have a planned out life. i know that the 2 professors who might read my blog probably* think i am a nut job for saying that. unfortunately, now that it is entirely unlikely that i will be an academic, i have to think about what i am going to do with my life. i can't just think assistant, associate, full. i have to think about the fact that my career may not just advance in a magical way. i have to think about what i want to do.** and, i am suddenly thinking about how i will never be able to retire and about how i will never pay off the debts that i have aquired.***

anyway, i guess what i wanted to say is this: thank the heavens i do not want to have children. i do not see how i could possibly handle planning my life and the lives of any other hangers on. so, don't give me kids. i just can't take it.

* probably? let's be realistic. i know they think i am a nut job. i am a nut job.

** i hate this. i know what i want to do. sociologist.

*** debt depresses me. especially because i had a whopping zero dollars of debt before i started grad school. for various reasons, fiscal irresponsibilty, not making a lot of money, etc., i have a chunk of debt that will loom over me for a long time. and my debt is so pointless because my degree is so pointless. i'm not even sure that i have grown as a person. i don't even know if i have actually aged.

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6:53 AM


Have you ever considered trying the grad school thing from another department - one not quite as competitive and with a less sink-or-swim approach to students? While it is true that you won't have the same employment options in the end, you will still have plenty in the field.

Just a thought.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:24 AM  
That's what I did, remember. Left your department and went to one that worked better for me. And I finished it. And, while I don't yet have the tenure-track gig of my dreams, I do have full-time teaching work, and it's all ok.

But yeah, I also have a depressing mountain of debt.

Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:40 AM  
I also put off having any plans beyond finishing grad school, since that seemed like such a monumental task in and of itself. And then I finished and got a job, and I feel like I've been sort of lost ever since. It turns out that once you get that professor job, you still need to make plans. I feel betrayed.

And yes, you're a nut job, but an adorable one.
Blogger Gwen, at 1:40 PM  
Move back to Texas where you're happy and start applying to junior/community college positions. Apply all the time, every year. Teach as an adjuct. Get to know the chairs of the various departments around you're area. It may take a while, but I'd bet money that you'd end up with a full time teaching gig sooner or later.
Blogger Constance, at 3:37 PM  
Or follow Brady to USC and come live with me.
Blogger Constance, at 3:37 PM  
i was going to post these as updates, but instead they will go here in the comment area:

clarification: i should qualify this and say that one reason i don't think it is advisable for me to go back to school is because of the huge debt i have accumulated. if i went back, it would take 3 years at the very least. that is 3 more years of not paying off debts.

special connie comment: from what i hear, being an adjunct is not the glamorous life it might seem to be. if you aren't in a full time position, you don't get benefits or deccent pay. and, um, i like health insurance.
Blogger dorotha, at 6:15 PM  
Really Dorotha? You REALLY think I don't know that?

I was just thinking about teaching one class in the evenings to get your foot in the door.
Blogger Constance, at 2:31 PM  
As I'm sure you know (even if you may sometimes feel otherwise) finishing grad school--even landing a tenure track position--is no guarantee. Don’t kid yourself about some golden path you could have been on that doesn’t actually exist. In particular, don’t use this kind of fiction to beat yourself up about the life that you have after grad school.

Good luck, and know that you are not alone (in fact, you are among the majority). You may know about these, but I have found the following to be helpful in understanding/processing my own grad school experience:
Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:11 AM  
I'm also a professor who reads your blog on occasion.

I sympathize. Academia holds great rewards for those who "succeed" but leaves a lot of very worthy people by the wayside.

Ultimately, your willingness to persevere in academia comes down to whether it is a true calling for you. If it is, then you will tolerate the "gentile poverty" that accompanies the underemployment many have to endure until they get tenure and promotion. Adjunct faculty generally are miserable. They are cheated by structural unfairness. But if you know, in your heart, that you can't NOT be an academic, then you put up with it.

A suggestion. Consider getting an MLS and becoming a librarian. Library school is a cool option these days for academics. The curriculum is more interesting than it used to be. It involves educating people, often including the very disadvantaged and disenfranchised. Its a nobel profession. Its not highly paid but if you get a job at a university library (as a social sciences reference librarian, for example), you move up through ranks. And you can often work as a library assistant to make ends meet while earning your degree.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:27 AM  
anonymous 11:11 - yeah, i know it isn't guaranteed that you will get a job and that there are lots of potential pitfalls, i just mean that there is a trajectory. there is a way that it goes. i don't think my parents careers have had such a yellow brick road to follow. and lots of jobs are "dead end." there isn't room for advancement.

thank you for the links. they look interesting.

connie - you do present an easy picture, though. there are people with full-on phds that want jobs at community colleges. yeah, it isn't impossible for me to get a job like you suggest. it is just difficult and improbable. i couldn't do it in this town because there are too many dissertators who want to teach. i couldn't do it in texas very easily because i have to have a job with health insurance before i move to texas. and i don't really want to get stuck teaching at a community college for the rest of my life. i think community college is great, i just don't think that my driving for is to be a teacher. i like teaching, but i wouldn't want to just teach.
Blogger dorotha, at 11:35 AM  
anonymous 11:27: i actually have lots of friends who have their MLS. i've thought about it, too. i think it would be quite rewarding, actually, even though i had a fear of libraries as a child and could barely set foot in one. this might be a way that i could go. i kinda like sociology, though.

i want to be an academic. i am going to try to come back. i don't know how i can come back to it. not likely in this program.

it isn't poverty. it is debt. it isn't living like a grad student now. it is the debt that i will carry for the rest of my life. my mother took a vow of poverty when she was a nun, and i guess i could do that, too. i don't know.

anyway, it is a complicated issue for me because of health reasons and personality conflicts. i think a combination of medications and shutting my fucking mouth will help.

i want to try to come back despite all of this partly because i find my job so dang boring most of the time.

anyway, thank you all for your advice.
Blogger dorotha, at 11:52 AM  
I'm always 100% in favor of the idea of people leaving PhD programs to become librarians. Actually, I guess I'm just 100% in favor of smart people going to library school.

Seriously, think about it.

My library actually has a Social Science department. Brady uses it instead of his school's pitiful collection.

Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:57 PM  
Me again.

Out of curiosity, I checked starting salaries for assistant professors at UCLA, and found that my starting salary with an MLS was actually a little bit more.

How 'bout that?

Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:49 PM  

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