Sunday, October 05, 2014
What I Learned Talking to Grad Students
In the meantime, stay tuned for some postings...
To be honest, in my case, it didn't feel like a blind spot so much as a willful choice to neglect the field. Good teachers don't really up an institutions prestige. Good publishers do. Until that changes, it doesn't matter where the market is, because the market doesn't actually drive external evaluations of their program.
I sympathize with your reaction, Dean Reed, but here (and in IHE) you are mostly preaching to the choir. How many of those grad deans and directors, let alone grad students, have read your blog? How many know the true nature of the job market?
My eyes were opened when a colleague told me that she had no interest in changing her ABD status because the bump in pay was small compared to the large pay advantage she had over friends with a PhD teaching at some non-selective 4-year school like a smaller directional state university. And their work load was higher because they also had to publish and she only has to teach. They were shocked at the positive aspects of the full-time t-t CC alternative.
PS - I hope you pointed them all to this blogger version of the blog, with its vast archive of articles and comments on this general topic.
Most of the PhDs from our program would regard a community college job as a last choice (they take postdocs and research positions at even lower salaries instead).
I'm not going to try to tell them they're wrong either—while teaching is important and what I spend most of my time on, the faculty who spend most of their time on research have done some amazing and inspiring things.
I looked over our grad alumni list and saw none teaching at community colleges, a few professors at research universities, and lots who were in industrial research positions (often in startup companies that they founded). So advising students in our department how to apply for community college teaching positions (which pay badly in california) doesn't seem to be that valuable.
Now that I'm in the job, I see the columns on IHE about "How to get a job at..." and they don't apply to me -- they weren't what the place I'm at was looking for, or don't apply to my field. Blaming a grad advisor becomes less productive as I see more and more. In a perfect world, sure, they would give great counsel. In this world, that happens less.
I think to a large extent, faculty mirror THEIR advisors' opinions and perceptions. So, as for expecting more by now, ask yourself how long a faculty member's career is, and you'll have the answer why there hasn't been more progress. I suspect many of the advisors you had 20 years ago in grad school are still there.