Monday, 24 July 2006

The flip side of the coin

Jason Kuznicki has what might be fairly pitched as the counterpoint to Michelle Dion’s posts with advice to prospective graduate students—that is, if somehow you came away with the impression that Michelle’s advice was rosy (which, um, it wasn’t):

Should I go to graduate school for history?

My short answer: No.

My long answer: No, and here’s why…

While things are not quite as bleak as Jason describes in political science land (for starters, I have—at least, as of August 15—a full-time job in academia that pays a living wage, with a non-negligible chance of continued employment beyond the coming academic year, which decidedly would not be the case had I gotten a PhD in history from Ole Miss), this paragraph is not far off the mark regardless:

This is the real reason why you should not go to graduate school in history: Your twenties are the most important decade of your life when it comes to defining your career. No matter how long you live, people will always ask about these formative years. Replying that you spent them getting a PhD in history marks you as uniquely unqualified for anything in particular. You will forever be more “interesting” than you are “employable.”


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. Greg Weeks wrote @ Tue, 25 Jul 2006, 6:18 am CDT:

I don’t see Political Science in so negative a light (though I admit I say so from a comfortable perch). And one thing it misses, and Michelle doesn’t really address either, is that if I had not gone to graduate school, I think I would’ve spent my twenties at a job, thinking about what if I had gotten a Ph.D.


My advice to undergrads who express interest in graduate school for political science is to apply to PhD programs only. If they aren’t scared away from recruiting weekends and they decide to go, they can always get a Master’s degree and go get a job or to another school (law, mpa, mba) when they decide to bail.


That’s probably good advice. I think Ole Miss funds MA students at the same level as PhD students, but that’s pretty rare.

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