Michelle Dion shares some of the advice she gives students who come into her office who want to go to grad school, advice I am generally concur with. Would that anyone gave me similar advice when I was in college—not that I asked many people for it, which may have been part of the problem…
Update: See also Part II of the same.
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.”
In part 3 of her ongoing series, Michelle Dion tackles the question of choosing a PhD program to attend. All excellent points I wish I’d been aware of when thinking of grad school 8–9 years ago.