Graduate School?! Don’t Do It!

Update. Er – the link now goes to the right place. So much better that way.

This is a fascinating blog discussion – it takes off from a commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education, about the angst of deciding whether or not to go to graduate school. There are (as of this writing) 104 comments, including several from Jane Galt, who wrote the Chronicle piece. The discussion started on December 4, and it’s still going on. It’s surprising (at least to me) how strongly the tide is running in the direction of ‘don’t go.’ Well I don’t know why it surprises me, come to think of it, since it’s not something I ever wanted to do. But it does – I suppose because I assumed that even though I didn’t want to, other people did, and went on wanting to and were happy they had. But apparently people like that are the exception.

I was especially struck by this remark (among a lot of others I was especially struck by) at number 40:

I’m a first-term graduate student in English, and I’m seriously reconsidering my decision to go for the doctorate. The probable length of time it’ll take to get the degree…and the overwhelming competition are all convincing me to rethink my choices. The fact that English departments are rapidly becoming cultural criticism departments isn’t really helping either–I know it’s pathetically naive to say so, but I came for the literature, not ivory-tower political “activism.”

Hm. Why’s it pathetically naive? It’s not, of course, it’s only the people who’ve turned English departments into ‘cultural criticism’ departments who think so and have managed to intimidate other people into thinking so. But it’s just as I’ve been saying for years, the theory types are not just boring themselves and their students into fits, they’re also turning people away from the field.

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