“Don’t go, you pathetic loser!”

Karen Gregory has a great post up responding to the ubiquitous advice columns discouraging people from going to grad school.

There are many reasons why these screeds of “Don’t go! Graduate School will ruin your life” leave me wanting to kick the wall. Yes, things suck. I make no bones about that, but these screeds overlook the work that students are doing to organize, agitate, and resist the restructuring of higher education. And this oversight raises the question: if you realized the Pannapacker “Truth,” then did you then get involved in your union, in an activist group, in an education alternative (like the Free University), or in a conversation with your students? When did you start realizing that a career in academics also means addressing the very conditions of our labor? What have you done besides comparing the kind of tenacity it takes to be a graduate student today to being a willful smoker who smokes “four packs a day” and hopes to not get cancer?

As one used to say in the heroic era of blogging: read the whole thing.

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3 Responses to ““Don’t go, you pathetic loser!””

  1. Hill Says:

    I confess that my gut reaction to the offending column was: “You wrote your thesis on what?! Of course you can’t get a job.”

  2. beatrice marovich Says:

    Amen. Especially on this:

    “…and we also know that the wolves are circling, ready to MOOC-ify the classroom, by which I mean get rid of it entirely and truly strip education down even further. This is really the big issue here, and I wish that more graduate students would realize that participating in the freakout over tenure is a drain on energy that would better be used to stand up to the larger forces that are eager to break the tie between education and mobility, particularly in the public university.”

    Slate should be publishing pieces like hers, rather than just reiterating the Pannapacker line on grad school, that’s been on repeat since 2009.

  3. Jan Says:

    On the other hand, if you decide against grad school because of an advice column you’re probably making the right choice.


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