My father sent me this article recently about the psychology of failure within graduate school. As a child of academics heading pretty much full-speed ahead into the world of academia, it was a good read. I tend to be my harshest critic, as those who know me do know. It’s frustrating to read things like:
Unfortunately, the hard facts show again and again that only a small percentage of doctoral students can achieve the success of becoming a tenure-track professor at a research institution.
I mean, we all know it’s true, but it’s one of those unpleasant things that if you let it get you down will no doubt scuttle your chances of making it.
The most important point that the article makes, albeit more tangentially than I would have hoped, is that there is a culture of desperation surrounding many graduate programs. In particular, students become more and more desperate for some sort of handle on “the job market,” as they progress through their program, and it causes all sorts of stress. People always ask me how long it’s going to take to me to graduate and what my plans are afterwards. My answer is always “I’ll see what things are like when I get there.” It’s a nice lie to myself and makes me look well-centered, but of course I’m just as scared shitless as everyone else that there will be no jobs for me when I get out.
I’m not planning on taking that barista course yet, but who knows? Maybe it will come to that. That or sit on the corner with a sign that says “will pontificate for money.”