While it paints a bit of a cartoonish image of a Higher Education Supervillian, twirling his mustache and plotting against the common man, I still found This Salon Article to hit upon a lot of great points regarding the exploding cost and plummeting value of college. Well worth a read.
A View From an Ex-String Theorist
Today’s link is more of the anecdote variety, rather than the typical number salad of most of my links, but I still think it’s worth a read. Via Reddit, let’s look at a story, in the author’s own words, about leaving behind academia, even when working in one of the “hot” fields, with a phenomenal background. I see a lot of people who assume that anyone who leaves academia behind is some sort of de facto failure, but this really isn’t the truth. There are many reasons people leave behind the ivory tower, and it’s always good to read another story.
On the “do what you love” platitude
Today’s link is a great read on one of those academic platitudes that really annoys me – “Do what you love”. I’ve often argued that these four little words are regularly used as an excuse to exploit workers, academics in particular, and this article is a great summary of why.
Confession of an Ivy League TA – grade inflation
Today’s article is a bit less serious, but it still reflects an issue I definitely noticed when I was a grad student – the idea of grade inflation, driven largely by a desire by the overworked grad student to avoid drama. I definitely ran into the same thing, and actually got some pretty vitriolic, hateful student evaluations when I was a tough-but-fair grader. At an elite school like Harvard, which is probably going to have a higher fraction of rich, entitled students, I shudder to think at how much crap you’d have to deal with if you gave a low grade to the wrong student. No wonder the median grades are so high.
The financial realities of a tenure track faculty position
I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog warning people that tenure track positions are so rare, and so difficult to obtain, that it often seems completely insane to waste years on postdocs pursuing those positions. However, there’s another angle that I’ve rarely touched upon, mostly because I know so few people who have successfully navigated that maze and landed those tenure track positions.
Today’s link is a description of the realities of tenure-track positions at smaller schools – the ones that, realistically, most people have a shot at getting. I’ve often complained about the financial realities of trying to live a normal life, or support a family, as a postdoc, but it turns out that the financial realities of a lot of tenure-track positions are also pretty grim.
This is yet another example of the multitude of reasons that I recommend that the vast majority of people “escape the tower”.
Academy Fight Song
Today’s rather long and somewhat hyperbolic read comes courtesy of The Baffler, and nicely summarizes a great many issues in higher education. There’s a bit of an excessive political slant to the writing, but the article drives home many very real issues with higher education, and has a lot of great quotable moments. Well worth the read.