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February 12, 2013

The horrors of academic life

From "Why Are Associate Professors So Unhappy?"

Brent Chesley, a professor of English at Aquinas College, understands the phenomenon. "We were all accepted into a grad program, completed degrees, got a position, and got tenure," he says. "Then there is this point at which one realizes: Oh, I won't ever earn a huge salary. I won't ever get to live in New York City. But worst of all, I'll never be interviewed by Terry Gross."


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I think the reason is simpler. First, you realize it's a treadmill, and the hours you got accustomed to during the PhD and the tenure track are here to stay. Spouse may or may not stick around. Refusing to play this game makes you look like a slacker, deadwood. Second, you do a PhD because you enjoy research and teaching, but then you realize you spend most of your time either (a) writing and managing big grants (in research universities), or (b) doing tons of committee and other admin work (in smaller, understaffed colleges). That's not what we signed up for.

I doubt the average PhD is looking for fame and fortune, so the huge salary and Terry Gross interview don't cut it with me.

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