Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More New Postacademic Blogs!

My traffic stats have alerted me to two three (sheesh! They're popping up like wildfire!) new postacademic blogs that folks may want to check out and/or bookmark.

Again, can I say how excited I am to see so many people writing about these issues? Because I am. Perhaps if enough of us from different fields and different stages in our career and with different outlooks on academia start talking about the realities of life in academia and the fundamental problems with higher education, we can help other people understand that they're not alone if they want (or think they might need to) pursue an alternate career path. And perhaps, like the 100 Reasons blog, some people who are considering grad school will read what we have to say and avoid making the same mistakes that we made.

Links to the new blogs and my own brief thoughts after the jump...


The first new blog is Misconceptions and Missed Opportunities. Aimless Jones (love that blogger name, by the way!) seems to be in a "hard" science field but planning to leave academia. Zie is currently working on a series of posts describing their journey from undergrad to a postdoc, pointing out the misconceptions zie had about the grad school life and the realities zie ignored about how to survive in academia along the way.

Even though we seem to be in different fields and Aimless sounds like a more motivated student than I was (zie reports "rushing" through the program and not paying attention to the outside world, whereas I definitely spent more of my time on the outside world and less time on work), a lot of what is written over there sounds very familiar to me.

What this blog also shows, though, is that even if you aren't in the humanities, and even if you're a motivated and eager grad student who works hard throughout your grad school years? The job market is still a crapshoot and there's no guarantee that you'll wind up with a great job or the happiness you were promised by the faculty in your grad program. And it's not your fault. It's the fault of the structure of higher education. So sometimes the best course of action is just to cut and run ... or at least, to think of a Plan B just in case your Plan A doesn't work out.


The second blog is the blog of Professor Emily George (which I assume to be a pseudonym :), who is a tenure-track English prof in an "Anonymous Small Rural Christian College" but is hoping to leave her current job (and possibly the academic life) in the next year or two.

In the first few posts, she's written about how she feels more comfortable than many people would at the Christian College since she grew up in an evangelical culture, but how she still feels uncomfortable because she has to mask who she really is in order to work there ... and is thus having a tough time being happy in what is supposed to be her "dream job."

I am a liberal, and I worked in a mostly-liberal program in a mostly-liberal discipline. While I'm very respectful of others' religious beliefs, I knew that I would never be the type of person who would be able to work at a very conservative religious college, so I didn't apply to any.

So while I haven't written specifically about ideological issues as being one thing that academic job candidates need to consider while on the market, Emily's blog is one that can illustrate how this can be a problem. I know that for me, the type of work environment that Emily writes about would have been untenable to me. And it's interesting that even for Emily - who is familiar with the culture and who has the coveted tenure-track position she thought she wanted - the simple fact that she is called "professor" isn't enough to offset the aspects of the job that she isn't happy with.

And while other people (probably current academics) would say that Emily is crazy for wanting to leave a tenure track job, no matter what the circumstances might be? I disagree. As I've written here many, many, many times before ... I think that our lives should be about more than work. No "dream job" is worth staying in you're unhappy with the overall situation you're in.

There will always be opportunities for talented people to write, and do research, and even teach a class or two as an adjunct. But we only have one life with which to be happy. If your overall life isn't what you want, it's okay to make some changes. I'm glad to see there's another voice out there making this same argument.


The third one is entitled Ruminations: Life after Academia. Jet is a former academic living in the UK who is slightly older than me (and I believe, some of the other postacademic bloggers). She also has two (?) kids and a husband, so her perspective on working and leaving academia as a parent who is slightly older than the average job-seeker is already shining through in her early posts.

What I like about Jet's blog is how she has been (thus far, anyway) writing on a more abstract/analytical level about the transition out of academia. Like Currer and the blogger at 100 Reasons, she has already drawn on writing others have done to help explain/understand her feelings about academia, and has discussed how things like a normal day of spring cleaning can remind her of what her academic life was like and how things have changed. It's interesting stuff. My posts have primarily been of the "complaining about how much academia sucks" and "encouraging people to make strategies for leaving" variety. I really appreciate other bloggers who can take a more nuanced and analytical view of the whole thing.


So, that's that for today ... go forth and read!


  1. Hi JC and thanks so much for having a look at my blog. I'm very new at blogging but have always enjoyed reading others and have never shied away from discussion forums in various contexts. You got it right that I have 2 children. After some of my usual pondering about what to do with my life, I sat down with them the other night at dinner and apologised for the years of my parenting that was taken over by academic stress and the need for perfection. I've always told them that we are all human and have our limits (ie, don;t out too much pressure on me to perform the 'perfect mother' myth) but I can admit now that academia took over my life at many points and just wasn't worth it. Thanks to your blog and others, I can admit to myself that there must be some better and healthier alternatives.

  2. Thanks for your description JC! I've always enjoyed your blog - don't worry, I don't find it overly full of complaining at all (but maybe I am biased).

  3. Thanks for the nod! And I'm looking forward to checking out Aimless Jones (yes, totally jealous of that pseud!) and Jet, as well.

    It's funny, a couple of the things you said in your write-up struck chords for me--things I was probably naive about before launching into the current job. One is your self-identification as a liberal and having that be the reason you never considered a faith-based college. I'm a liberal, too! Left of liberal, really, on most economic and social issues, and that's never felt in the least contradictory to Christian faith to me. But of course most of the rest of the world doesn't see it that way, and as a result, the conservatism of my colleagues and students--and their belief that people who share their faith must also share their politics--is one of my daily shocks.

    And I've been struck through this whole process by the way academia has trained us to think of any t-t job as a "dream job." Would I have actually listed this job anywhere near the top of my list of academic dream jobs? Of course not. But talking about actual dream jobs in academia seems absurd: who is actually going to land at Princeton or Amherst or Whatever-Your-Real-Dream-School-Is. So the state of the market trains us to think that any t-t job that's actually offered must be a dream job: after all, it's not a VAP, it's not adjuncting! And then, of course, reality sets in...