Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Ph.D.s

Like so many young college students, I found myself several years ago about to graduate with an impractical degree and a decent GPA. I liked school. I liked my subject. I didn't know how to get a job. My advisor suggested grad school. Five years later, I found myself dissecting fruit fly brains 10 hours a day for a barely living wage, with no end in sight. While college friends had good jobs, houses, and adult lives, I was still at least 5 years away from having the "real job" I was going for--a tenure-track professorship. I got my Ph.D. and got out, but I consider it my responsibility as a refugee from academic science to keep others from repeating my mistakes.

I'm sure there are good things to be said about a career path that makes you go through 10 years of postgraduate education before you have a slim chance at getting a job with mediocre pay in a geographic region not of your choosing, but I'm not going to say those things. Instead, I offer the following articles to anyone with a friend or loved one considering getting a Ph.D.:

Wanted: Really Smart Suckers is an excellent article about the academic career path. Though it's specifically about the humanities, just about everything in it applies to science as well.

Here is an article naming research science one of three career paths with the most disproportionate ratios of training to pay.

So you want to go to grad school? Don't.

3 comments:

warm fuzzy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
warm fuzzy said...

yeah, but if you hadn't gone, you wouldn't know how to capture fruit flies when they invade kitchens, and then where would we be? Where?

Anonymous said...

I like science,but is there a way to "do" science yet still have a life?