Academia: am I too much of a pessimist?

I’ve had quite a number of posts lately about how going for a Ph.D., if you don’t have all the facts about job prospects, can be a frustrating experience for many people. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not too much of a pessimist. The same way some people paint the Ph.D. track as rosy, I could equally well paint a much darker picture than needed.

Well, so far, I have yet to hear from one person who got a Ph.D. in recent years (last 15 years) who doesn’t seem to, at least silently, agree with me. Not everyone seems to agree that this knowledge should spread however. One counterargument is that the students ought to know and if they don’t, then too bad for them. Also, there is the whole line of argument about jobs being for small people: universities don’t have to worry about employment because they are above money, jobs and the economy. Well, wake up call: most people go to universities for job-related reasons. Unless you are independently wealthy or don’t mind living on welfare for the rest of your life, chances are that you are going to university to improve your job prospects. That’s the cold, hard truth.

Ok, I’ll go on to other topics soon, I promise!

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “Academia: am I too much of a pessimist?”

  1. I think potential grad students are much too exposed to the other side of the argument (“graduate school is great!”), and they need to be reminded of their real perspectives of employment as often as possible.

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