Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"I'm a Stupid, Stupid Man." Vance from Visalia Is Starting Again.

I'm a stupid, stupid man, who got a PhD in English at a mid-level R1.

I was wowed by the schools job placement! Little did I know most of that took place in the 90s. I'm a stupid, stupid man who has spent 10 years adjuncting, teaching nothing but the basic course, something I never took a course in in grad school. I'm a lousy teacher because I feel I've been cheated, and of course I'm cheating my students now, although they're pretty much mouth-breathers and wouldn't know if I was the King of Composition, or just the Fool I really am.

So, I applied to grad school, in TV/Media Production. I like to mess around with that shit, and the skills are usable in the academic and real worlds.

I feel as though I've wasted half of my life.

The English Department I went to should be ashamed that they take in 20 grad students every year and have placed exactly 1 person in a t-t job from my class. They are still doing it, of course. Their alumni newsletter brags about the biggest class of grad students ever. They are all fucked.

They are fucked like I am. That should be the grad school motto in English. "Welcome to Middle of the Road University. You're fucked. Now go sign up for some courses."

Starting in the Fall I'm going to become a 30 something grad student. I'm a stupid, stupid man.

16 comments:

  1. Way to go in with a good attitude! No, seriously, I know what you're talking about. My field has been pretty good to me, but I know people in the Humanities who got fucked like you.

    Your new field sounds like a gas, and if you truly like that work, I can see a lot of good real world opportunities for you. Try to shake it off. 30something is not the end. Good luck!

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  2. GAHHHHHH! English. I know what you mean. So many English people got screwed. I think you're really really SMART to cut your losses, especially when the job you have now feels so awful. You're not too old! Really just research the job situations in your field(s) the whole time you're in school. I'd think that world had lots of internships and "free employment" that would help you utilize all the cool new stuff you're going to learn.

    GOOD LUCK!

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  3. If it's all the same, science is still hiring the shit out of grad students.

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    1. Walt, you should have your own job page!

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    2. They certainly are not hiring astronomers, nor have they ever except for 5-6 years after Sputnik I, nor will they probably ever, at least in the foreseeable future. I tell my students until they yell at me, and then I stop.

      I still get more than enough students who want to be astronomers. Don't these people have enough imagination to figure out something more useful to do with their lives? One might do humankind some genuine good, and make real money doing it. But no, every last one of these 18-to-22-year olds think they're going to be in the top third/fifth/seventh/1% of astronomy Ph.D.s who get tenure-track jobs as astronomers.

      I was one of them. I have tenure now. Astronomy does have the advantage of being very cool. I put up with a lot of crap in academia so I can be an astronomer.

      Walter, you never did answer my question: How do you get your chemistry students to read the instructions before lab? I can't get my students to read anything, ever, no matter how dangerous the activity will be if they don't. And yes, this has resulted in some close calls. If I tell them to fess up if they haven't done the reading because this shit might blow up the way you do, my students will lie to me and tell me they've done the reading. How do you prevent yours from lying to you?

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  4. I assume you researched the recent job placement record of your new program. You did, right?

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    Replies
    1. Maybe Vance's first production should be an in-depth investigation of where the numbers released by his new program come from, and how accurate they are. Maybe he should complete it before he enrolls.

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  5. I'm with Darla; you're smart to get out, and not stupid for not seeing what others were actively covering up, or perhaps just denying to themselves as well as others. I was job searching in the 90s, and, even then, as the numbers of recent Ph.D.s still in town mounted, everybody was insisting that the flood of jobs predicted by the Bowen Report would be showing up any year now; they were just a bit delayed by the end of mandatory retirements, or the economy -- though the economy was booming, or, rather, dot-com bubbling -- or whatever. Nobody seemed to notice the growing ranks of contingent faculty, including on our own campus. In the oughts, I suspect people have been blaming the economy (even as they propose new/expanded grad programs, while failing to hire at a similar rate).

    I do, however, have one question: do you really, really need a(nother) grad degree to pursue this new field? Is there any chance that you could turn "messing around with that shit" into working for pay in the field without another degree? Maybe a degree is truly necessary, but I worry that the growth in multiple M.A.s is yet another sign of the metastasizing of the educational-industrial complex.

    These questions are especially applicable if you'll be taking out loans to fund this new venture. If they're offered you enough non-loan aid (TA-ship, paid internship, stipend, etc.) to live modestly (which you're presumably used to) while pursuing the degree without going into debt, then great, go for it. If not, proceed with extreme caution, and careful consideration of who will benefit most from this decision.

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  6. Vance, you are da man. You're doing a smart thing and I wish you the best. Put the shit behind you. Making a doc about the bullshit at your old grad school might be useful, but man I bet you'd spend 2 years feeling bad some more. Let it go.

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  7. Run, run, RUNNNNNNN far, far away from English. You'll be stuck teaching 18 sections of comp or looking at jobs in Korea and China. And that will happen for 15 years before you realize how much you hate yourself and your life. So great job of making the change now.

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  8. I don't think you're stupid at all! You have realized early that your aspirations/job expectations have changed, and you're young enough to achieve new and exciting goals. Your past education will help you in the long run as you can apply it to your new career. Win-win here!

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