October 19, 2005

A challenge to professors: tell your students the truth and help them find non-academic jobs!

Here is a quote from "At Cross Purposes: What the experiences of doctoral students reveal about doctoral education." By Chris M. Golde and Timothy M. Dore. January, 2001. A report prepared for The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA. www.phd-survey.org

This information is based on The Survey on Doctoral Education and Career Preparation, a 1999 survey of 4,114 students in 27 universities.

The data from this study show that in today's doctoral programs, there is a three-way mismatch between student goals, training and actual careers. Despite a decade of attention, the mismatch between the purpose of doctoral education, aspirations of the students, and the realities of their careers within and outside academia continues. Doctoral students persist in pursuing careers as faculty members, and graduate programs persist in preparing them for careers at research universities, despite the well-publicized paucity of academic jobs and efforts to diversify the options available for doctorate-holders. The result: Students are not well prepared to assume the faculty positions that are available, nor do they have a clear concept of their suitability for work outside of research.

I don't know who is perpetuating this ridiculous situation, but someone needs to take responsibility. If I were a professor today, I'd be urging all my graduate students to reconsider their career choice, and I'd be helping them to be aware of the non-academic alternatives available to them.

I'd go so far as to challenge one professor to level with her/his students. If you know of anyone who has done so, let me know!


At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gina
I'm a MSc student in Nova Scotia that is currently trying to balance graduate study with a full-time, non-academic job.
I do hope to proceed on to a PhD, but I have no designs on tenure track. i guess being in the science field may have something to do with it, as well as having worked for 10 years after my BSc prior to going back to grad school, but I see so much more potential in a non-academic work-world. yes it is very different- i have worked as a tech in a academic lab- but the possibilites are just as endless in the outside world. and, as a bonus, you're not dependant on grant for your livelihood!

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Gina Hiatt, Ph.D. said...

Hi Vicki,
It's refreshing to hear your point of view. I agree that being in the sciences has something to do with it, since you have more obvious options than do those in the humanities. And those who have worked in the "real world" don't find the idea so daunting. Or maybe you're more immune to the mass hypnosis that says that an academic career is the only career worth striving for.

Best of luck to you!


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