Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Monday Funnies

I've got some half-finished posts in the pipeline ... I'll get something new up later this week, I promise! Real life has intervened this week and gotten in the way of my blogging. Stupid real life. :)

In the meantime, I just ran across a comic at The Oatmeal called "Why Working at Home is Both Awesome and Horrible," and couldn't resist posting it. Something tells me that even though it's not about grad school specifically, a lot of the grad students and academics who read here will find it amusing (and possibly painfully true).

So go over there and check it out! And if anyone is artistically inclined, perhaps we could do an academic version. I'm no artist, so I'm not sure how to portray "neverending academic guilt" and "feelings of inadequacy" in visual form.


Also, I ran across this Ph.D. Comic the other day, and found it both amusing and sad.

You know, I was at the arrows when I left - I've put in a stupid amount of time in grad school, but couldn't take it anymore - and I don't regret it. So, you know ... all isn't lost if you decide to go, as I've said many times.

If you're utterly miserable and hate it when you're at the end of grad school? You shouldn't necessarily press on just because you've come this far. But you shouldn't necessarily quit either.

Am I confusing you? Probably. What I mean is that if you find this place by googling "I hate grad school" and are trying to decide what to do, take a minute to think about exactly why you're miserable. If you're miserable because you're tired of your dissertation and your advisor and just want to go work on other projects or teach at a new school? Okay. You should probably hurry up and finish and not quit.*

But if you want to leave because if you look at one more journal article or regression table or theoretical argument or student or professor you might snap and lose your mind? If you are finding that you want to quit because you hate all academic work and want to stop doing it?

You may be a Type 1 Leaver and should seriously consider quitting, even if you've put in a lot of time already. Because, damn. If you hate teaching and research and analyzing data and theorizing in grad school ... what do you think you're going to be doing as a professor???

That's right. It won't get better when you're faculty if you hate the work you're doing in grad school. Because it'll be the same work. So think about that. Think hard about that.

So have a laugh at the comic, but if it rings true to you then please think about why you are nodding along and thinking "...yeah, I do want to quit, but I've put in too much time to quit." The world doesn't need more miserable people chained to academia. Don't be scared to quit just because you've been there for awhile. We've all done it, and we're surviving. And life is too damn short to stay tethered to a job you hate, just because you've "been there a long time."

Okay, that's enough seriousness from me. Poke around those websites and have a few laughs. You deserve it! :)


* (Although if you're in the humanities, I would still advise you to be planning an exit strategy for leaving academia eventually. Because there are no academic jobs in the humanities. Finish your Ph.D. if you must, but don't count on an academic future.)


  1. Thanks for this post! Very, very reassuring, thanks!

  2. JC, this post feels like it's speaking directly to me. While I find teaching really meaningful, my research feels relentlessly lonely, hard, and pointless. I feel like a Type 1 leaver, but am plagued by second-guessing that there's something wrong with me. My friends have suggested I'm just burned out right now after being in a terrible job market. Inside Higher Ed says that all academic writing is painful and hard and that academics should find strategies to break through the paralysis. Part of me thinks that work in my field (literature) just doesn't make a difference in the world. Part of me wonders if I'm just bitter and have a negative attitude because of all the rejection. Part of me suspects that I never really loved the work, but being a professor seemed like the logical next step for someone who loved learning and identified with "being smart." And part of me feels like I'm the only one who thinks the emperor is wearing no clothes.

    1. Anonymous, you sound exactly like me (and my husband). I encourage you to consider quitting! Your instincts are right!

      JC, there's a GREAT podcast by Freakonomics called the upside of quitting that pretty much debunks the notion that people shouldn't quit because they've invested so much time/effort/money into something. It was tremendously reassuring to me when I was in the middle of deciding to quit, so other grad school quittas should listen to it, too. It's on their website.

  3. I like this post as it's made me think about what I got out of my experience of academia. I've enjoyed teaching and enjoyed some challenges of post grad research, but never liked the increasing isolation one has in research contexts. Some of my teaching also, I felt, could find a tendency to get stale or not terribly exciting, and I think much of this might be due to the fact that I became very aware of the poor working conditions of the adjunct rut and I tried not to over-invest in it when I knew my over-obsessive personality could have gone over-board with prep and marking etc for such little pay and career reward. So, I'm not sure what kind of leaver I am. I did seem to recognise though eventuakky, that I finished at the wrong time when there are no jobs (arts and humanities) and with current academics in fear of losing their jobs in some departments. Facing this reality was what prompted me to get on with thinking about alternatives.

  4. I just shake my head in disbelief when I see newly minted PhDs applying for adjunct jobs in my college. Is this really what you spent all of your time, money, and emotional resources on? So you can have the "privilege" to teach part time for far less than you're worth?

    The corporate world has its issues, but I am really starting to feel like at least for-profit companies are honest about why they exist. You need me to complete work for you so you can make a profit that greatly exceeds your cost to employ me. Fair enough. I will be thrilled when I can step out of academia and into a world where nobody is throwing the "because you LOVE it/because the students NEED you/ your sacrifice is for the good of the institution and you must contribute your SOUL" rhetoric in my face, as if it could buy my groceries.

    I will be thrilled when I can get REALLY honest about the work I do and my exchange for compensation.