Saturday, November 16, 2013

Forum Update - Spammers Suck!

As a followup to my last post - yes, the spammer problem at our new forum is out of control. We are currently working on a solution and will get it fixed as soon as possible. We will post an announcement over there when it's functional again, and I will post an announcement here as well to let you know when it's safe to sign up.

Thanks for your patience ... none of us have ever gotten much spam at our blogs, so we were naive about how much would be attracted by the forums. Ahh! Bear with us and we will fix it...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exciting News in Postacademia!!

Hey everybody!! (Really, really) long time no talk!!

Everything with me is going well ... I'm still at the same job, still living in the same place ... still hanging out with my partner and friends and family and dogs. Life is good!

I haven't written in a while for various reasons ... to some extent, I just haven't had much to add to the interesting and varied conversations that have been happening in the postacademic world in recent months. On another level, I simply haven't been quite as "tuned in" to academic and postacademic news as I used to be. I do still pay attention, but as I've moved further away from my grad school life I have found that my emotions aren't as raw, my anger not so acute, and my desire to blog about each article and event to be less strong.

(So take heart, new academic leavers - the raw emotions do fade over time!!)

However, I'm back today to tell you about a few really exciting developments in the postacademic world, and with our How to Leave Academia website in particular.

More after the jump...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Ph.D. Placement Project

Hey all! Long time no talk!!

I'm writing today because everyone who hasn't already done so should head over to the Chronicle of Higher Education and contribute to their new Ph.D. Placement Project. There are numerous ways to do this - you can take the anonymous survey (if you've completed your Ph.D.), follow them on Twitter, email them directly (PhDPlacement at Chronicle dot com) if you have any ideas for how they should proceed, or sign up for their email list to receive updates on the project.

(This wonderful project seems to primarily be a response to William Pannapacker's most recent column in the Chronicle, where he laments the lack of data on Ph.D. job placements. Kudos to the Chronicle for trying to tackle this challenge and to assemble the necessary data).

They've already received more than 600 responses, and they are clearly excited about the huge response to their initial survey. But as they write in that article, this is just the first step in what they intend to be a much larger project:
...the survey we've posted is only a starting point. We intend to use it to collect ideas and advice that will help us determine how best to proceed in collecting detailed, accurate placement information.
When we publish placement information about individual Ph.D. programs, it will be based on a formal research project, not on a Google survey.
In short, if you're interested in the issue of placement rates and Ph.D. programs, please keep communicating with us.
At this point they are only collecting survey data from people who have completed their Ph.D.s ... so if you're a current grad student or a dropout like me, you can't take the survey. However, you can still follow them on Twitter, email them with suggestions, and sign up for their email list. So if you haven't finished your Ph.D. but you are interested in this project, there are ways to get involved.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Adjuncts! Tell Your Story Here!

(Editor note: Please share this post far and wide - on twitter, on your blog, Facebook, wherever. I don't blog-flog as a general rule, but I welcome any sharing of this post that anyone wants to do. Let's get as many stories as possible, and then we'll see what we can do as far as getting them out to a wider audience.

Also: I'm not going to respond to comments because I just want this to be a comment thread of stories, with minimal distractions. But I am reading all of them and listening.)

So it's been a rough week in internet-land for postacademics and adjuncts (and their defenders).

If you have a strong stomach for condescending, insulting comments, click here or here. But if not, let's just say that there has been a lot of insulting nonsense posted recently at academic forums, with (presumably) tenure-track faculty and/or grad students implying that academia is still basically a meritocracy, that folks who don't get tenure-track jobs are deficient in some way, and that adjuncting isn't really a major problem (and that even if it is, adjuncts know the market is crap so they deserve what they get).

It's cruel nonsense, of course ... but it's still obnoxious, and I don't think we should let it sit out there unchallenged.

But in an era when data about adjuncts is hard to come by and where graduate departments don't publish their placement statistics, it's hard to refute what those people are saying.

A few of us were talking about this problem on Twitter, and came to the conclusion that one thing that should happen is for more adjuncts and other contract faculty to share their experiences in a public forum. If more of you "come out" publicly about your experiences, then we stand a better chance of drowning out the voices who are insisting that everything is equal, that the most deserving always get ahead, and that things really aren't that bad out there for folks in the social sciences and humanities.

We need, in essence, a chorus of people who are on the lower rungs of academia to stand up and tell their stories.

Ideally, every single adjunct would have a column in a major magazine where they could do this. :) But in reality, of course, most of you don't have that kind of platform, and/or may not be comfortable "outing" yourselves publicly in that way - using your real name, and opening yourself up to shame and criticism.

So, here's a public (anonymous) platform for you to tell your stories, adjuncts. Take over my blog!

I want to hear about your working conditions, about how grad school did (or did not) prepare you for what you encountered on the job market, and about how adjuncting makes you feel as a person and as a scholar. If we hear stories from a lot of you, then it becomes easier to drown out the nasty comments and Pollyannaish narratives that are out there.

It certainly won't end the problems in academia, of course, but it might help in some small way ... if only by shaping the discourse on adjuncthood around your experiences, rather than around the statements and assumptions of tenured faculty.

So leave a comment (or email me at leavingacademia at Tell us about your adjunct life.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why I Won't "Just Shut Up"

So I've been thinking quite a bit about the whole U of M/postac kerfuffle over the past few weeks, and have been following the continuing debate over it (this reaction was particularly great) as well as the conversation surrounding Rebecca Schuman's new article in the Chronicle (behind the paywall, unfortunately) - which includes, incredibly, a full professor at an R1 university trying to invalidate her argument because she made a snarky comment about a few pioneering theorists. Sigh.

Anyway, I wrote my last post because I wanted to defend myself against the (untrue) assertion that I think grad students are all privileged jerks who can't get real jobs. As I wrote two weeks ago - that is not, never has been, and never will be true of my thoughts on privilege in academia.

But now that I've gotten that out of my system and have been following the ongoing postacademic debates, I've been thinking more and more about the silencing attempts I've been witnessing. First, of course, we have Amy Pistone telling all of us to shut up on an official graduate school website. Then, we see professors trying to deride and belittle critics like Schuman in the pages of a major magazine/website. And so on and so on. The critiques of postacademia, then, seem to amount to "shut up and stop talking!"

(I mean, unless I'm way off base, I haven't seen any other critiques of our work out there. No one can refute the horrific job outlook for many disciplines, nor can they argue with the fact that some people don't like certain types of work (even academic work) ... so all they're left with is "Well, I love my work, so you just shut up and stop talking and everything will be fine for everyone!!")

The more I've thought about the people who are saying those things to Schuman and William Pannapacker and the other critics of Ph.D. education, the angrier I've gotten. And now I feel compelled to write about why I haven't stopped updating this blog even though I'm officially out of academia, and why I'm not going to shut up and stop talking anytime soon.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I Don't Think We're Saying What You Think We're Saying

So ... while I've been away taking care of work things and life things and computer things, it appears that my blog has gotten tangentially caught up in an academic/postacademic brouhaha.

It started when Amy Pistone, a Classics Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan posted this article (under the official U of M grad school masthead! Neato!!), instructing all of us in the postacademic world (and particularly those in the humanities) to sit down and shut up and stop talking, because she really really loves her work and that's all that matters. Not the crappy academic job market in the humanities, not the fact that grad school is something that a lot of people find depressing and demoralizing, and not the fact that there are a huge number of people out here who are reading and commenting (note: check out the years-long comment threads after each of those posts) and obviously gaining some value from those of us who are out here "writing these sorts of articles about grad students" that she doesn't like.


When I first noticed the traffic coming over from her article and skimmed it, I wasn't going to bother to respond. We postacademics get pushback from time to time, and I've got thick skin. And I'll be honest - when I glanced through Pistone's piece, my thoughts were basically: "mmmhmmm ... sure. Go ahead and vent, my dear ... but let's revisit this in five years and see how you feel then." Then I went on about my day.

But yesterday, I saw Rebecca Schuman's open letter to Amy Pistone, in which she expresses similar feelings to mine:
Do I dislike you, personally, Amy Pistone, even though you have misunderstood the dark humor in an article I wrote [...]? No, on the contrary, you remind me of a far more earnest version of myself at your stage (I’d say “at your age,” but I spent seven years working in the private sector between college and grad school, which is more than two, in case you’re wondering).
No, my reaction to you, personally, is “Oh, bless her heart—she’ll learn soon enough.”
(It was apparently Schuman's piece in Slate from earlier this year that inspired Pistone's university-sanctioned* temper tantrum.)

Reading Schuman's response inspired me to go back and read Pistone's article more closely. And boy, am I glad I did. Because now that I've read her post in full, I feel compelled to respond to what are clear and notable misrepresentations of my writing on this blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Still Here!

Hi all! I'm still here! Still working, still #postac, still happy!

However, life has been busy lately ... my partner got a new job, and I've been traveling a bit, and work has been stressful. Around here, the other postacs and I have been busily working on the website and e-book, which has been eating up most of my "thinking about postacademia" brainspace and not leaving much left over for the blog.

And then, of course, my computer died last week. Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Anyway, I'm either going to get my computer back or have a new one by Friday, so hopefully you will see some movement on the book and website (and hopefully something new in this space) in the near future.

But in the meantime, I'm still out here!

Wish me luck on getting a functioning computer for a fair price ... and to any of you who are still in academia and facing down the end of the spring semester ... hang in there! You can do it!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Comment on Being #PostAc

If you haven't already seen it, everyone should go over to our new How To Leave Academia site and read the latest post that Lauren and Currer wrote, about the differences between the "alt-ac" and "post-ac" movements. It's a really interesting read, and it helps clarify the differences between the different groups of us who are out here, trying to identify problems in higher ed and to help people who want to leave academia.

Unsurprisingly, I call myself a post-ac. I have been and will continue to be immensely critical of the overall system of academia, which values obscure specialized knowledge over all else and which tells its grad students and faculty that the only job worth having is an academic one, even if it leaves you impoverished and miserable. I've found a job outside of academia, in a for-profit consulting company. I feel no qualms about this whatsoever. I no longer believe that academia (as an institution) is a benevolent entity working toward abstract goals like "providing education" or "advancing knowledge." They are working to minimize costs and maximize revenues, just like many nonacademic companies.

But at least here in the outside world, organizations are honest about it. I'd rather work for a company that is making money and being honest about it than one that tells me with a straight face that I should feel honored to work 60 hours per week for a salary in the teens because I'm contributing to the "life of the mind" ... while they jack up tuition rates on students by double-digits, cut classes and raise class sizes, build a multimillion-dollar athletic facility, and hire two new Vice Presidents of Something at salaries in the mid-six-figures.

I'm tired of the hypocrisy. I'm tired of watching people get hurt by the "bait-and-switch" of academia, and to then turn their disappointment inward, so that they blame themselves for not working hard enough or for not being smart enough. I'm tired of them believing that they should sacrifice because they're contributing to some benevolent institution or some "greater good."

The institution doesn't care about you. And there are ways to contribute to the "greater good" of society without impoverishing yourself or driving yourself crazy with anxiety and overwork.

So I'm a post-ac. Unequivocally.

Friday, February 22, 2013

On Two Years ... Some Random Thoughts

Hello from your friendly and loving (but neglectful) blogger!

You know my typical excuses by now ... work, outside (non-computer) life, work on the website/e-book, lack of overall motivation to write, blah blah blah...

But I'm still here!

And I just realized this morning ... today is my two-year anniversary of the day where I officially decided to leave academia.

I can hardly believe it. Two years. I swear, sometimes it feels like it's been two months.

Anyway, I wrote a lengthy post and series last year (here's part 1 of 4) to commemorate my one-year anniversary of leaving, so I won't go into something long and convoluted today. In fact, I really don't even know what I would write in terms of long, flowery observations about having left academia anymore.

The simple fact is: I've left. I have another job. I have work and life obligations, and I earn money and buy groceries and run errands and see my friends, and in general my life has gone on. It has its ups and downs ... but without a doubt, it's still better than it was 2.5 years ago.

I can't think of the last time I had a crying fit, or a mini-panic-attack, or a temper tantrum because I didn't want to go to work in the morning. I no longer feel self-conscious or inadequate at work, or worry that I'm a huge fraud who is incompetent at my job. I sometimes have to take work home with me, but I'm no longer still working when my partner comes home from work at 11pm on the weekends. Evenings are mine. Weekends are mine.

Leaving: it's still the best decision I ever made.

In lieu of a big long flowery post, then ... I'll just leave you with a few random observations/comments about things that have been going on lately in my life. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Law Students are Catching On ... Why Aren't Ph.D. Students?

A friend linked to this article on Facebook today, and I wanted to bring it over here for discussion.

The article in question is about law school applications, so it might not seem completely relevant to a blog about leaving a Ph.D. program. After all, law is a profession. Aren't those people who enroll in professional programs like law schools the smart ones? The ones who thought about more than "I like books and writing and teaching; I'll go do that for ten more years!" after undergrad ... and instead thought "I'd like to be a lawyer, so I think I'll go to law school"

Aren't law students who enrolled in their programs when we enrolled in ours the ones who have awesome real jobs now, while we Ph.D. students struggle along in adjuncthood or at a shitty tenure-track job we can't seem to publish our way out of at Nowhereseville State College?

Well, not exactly. Not at all, actually. As the data clearly shows job opportunities for law school graduates have been sharply declining in recent years ... just as more and more new grads with shiny law degrees have been arriving on the market. Meanwhile, law schools are being accused of stretching the truth on their employment statistics in order to attract new students ... and of then shrugging their shoulders when most of their students graduate without job offers.

And (in my opinion, the worst trend of all) law students typically graduate with a debt load that dwarfs the ones that we Ph.D. students rack up. There are few scholarships or work/study programs available to law students, so many (if not most) wind up graduating with $150,000-$200,000 in student loan debt ... for just three years of school.

Friday, January 25, 2013

One Last Week to Submit Proposals for Our E-Book!

Greetings, readers of my poor little neglected corner of the internet!

As of today, there is just one short week left in which you can submit initial 250-word abstracts to be included in the "Leaving Academia" E-book that Currer, Lauren, Jet and I are putting together.

We have received several great submissions, but are still hoping to get more! So if you think you might have something to contribute, please see the CFP below and consider submitting!

Keep in mind - you don't have to be in your dream job or completely recovered from leaving academia to submit. We are hoping to collect stories from a range of people who have had a range of experiences and emotions and feelings about leaving the academic world, at any stage.

So if you're a former faculty member who is now the happy director of a giant think tank ... we want to hear from you! And if you're a former grad student who left ABD and is now working at a "meh" job for the time being (hey...that story sounds familiar!) ... we want to hear from you too!

See the CFP below for information on what we're looking for and how to submit. Thanks!


Have you left academia? Or are you currently in the process of leaving? Share your story!

As post-academic bloggers, we know firsthand that there is a desire for stories that explore more than just the career aspects of leaving the ivory tower. People want to know how, when, and why you quit; emotional issues related to quitting; and examples of post-academic success. We envision this book as a source of advice and support for readers who have quit graduate school before getting their Ph.D., people leaving academia even after they have finished their degrees, and people who are adjuncting or working in academia who are looking to leave. Many stories of the post-academic transition have been told on personal blogs and websites, including our blogs and web site, but this is the first collection has been organized to speak directly to people’s experiences leaving academia.

We’re looking for thoughtful, personal pieces (non-fiction or creative non-fiction) that tell a story or develop a theme related to the process of quitting academia. Like any good paper, the essay should have a core thesis or concept that you’re exploring through your writing. We prefer submissions that are relatively jargon-free and more casual in writing style. Your essay can be any length, with a general goal of 5-10 pages double spaced (but we’ll consider shorter or longer!). If you have poetry, art, or other (digitized) creative work that explores these themes, we’d be interested in that, too.  

This collection will focus primarily on what happened after you quit; thus, we are not interested in treatises about the failures of grad school or the problems in higher education. You’re welcome to explore the reasons and circumstances under which you left, but please continue the narrative forward from there. You can be as anonymous as you like, although please include enough detail that the reader can be drawn into your story. We invite you to explore the messiness, difficulty, and contradictions in the quitting process. 

Not every story has a happy ending, and that’s OK. We encourage submissions on any of these topics, as well as proposals for essays that explore any gaps between them:

  • How, when, and why you left academia: hopes/expectations versus realities in grad school, specific incidents/anecdotes, the job market, what you wish you’d known.
  • Alt-Ac Careers, Adjuncting -- Life on campus when you’re not a prof or student, changes in relationships with “the academy.”
  • Success Stories: how quitting changed your life for the better, how happy you are, how glad you are to be gone.
  • Failure stories: screwing up, falling down, awful jobs, bad experiences, floundering, despair. 
  • If you want to share a simpler or more straightforward story of your post-academic journey, please consider submitting to the website (email Lauren or Currer at the addresses below and specify that your submission is for the website).   

  • Timeline:
    250 word abstracts due: Feb 1st
    Goal of getting back to accepted folks mid-February
    Final essays due: April 1st
    Goal of publication by graduation in May 2013! :)

    Email submissions with “E-Book Submission” in the subject line to Lauren at or Currer at  by Feb 1 2013.

  • Career Transitions: Teaching stories, writing stories, stories of how you discovered a new vocation/path.
  • Sunday, January 13, 2013

    Belated New Year's Roundup Post

    Whew, finding time to blog is hard when you're also trying to work full-time, volunteer a few hours a week, start up a brand spanking new postacademic website, and find a little bit of time to hang out with your partner and pets and yourself! :)

    But I really can't complain ... things are going pretty well for me right now. So, yay.

    But given that we just had another new year sneak up on us, I wanted to write a brief "year in review" kind of post, to sum up how the year has gone and where I hope to go in 2013.

    2012 was a weird year. Upon first glance, it looks like a pretty uneventful year, primarily because nothing much happened for me career-wise. But when I think about it more closely, I actually do think it was a big year for me in my journey out of academia. And even more importantly, I'm hopeful that I'm finally in a good position to make 2013 a really great year.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    New Links for the New Year!

    Hey all!

    I'll be back this weekend with a more substantive post ... I've been meaning to write up a "2012 Year in Review" post like many of the other postacademic bloggers have done, so I'll get to that this weekend.

    The reason I've been neglecting my own blog, however, is because Currer, Lauren, Jet and I have been busily getting our new postacademic website up and running. We bought a domain, and set a template ... and now we actually have some content up!

    So go check out our new site - How To Leave Academia! It's a work in progress, of course, and we still have some kinks to work out with the template (and a lot of content to add). But it's coming along nicely, and in the meantime we'd love to have folks bookmark it and start sending people over to check it out.

    And as I mentioned in my last post ... if you have any ideas for content or if you'd like to contribute an article or a postacademic success story or just a thought about something that you see over there, leave a comment or email one of us!


    A couple of links to new blogs after the jump...