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Should you go at all?


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The most important question, I think, you should be asking yourself in this season of acceptances is if you should go to grad school at all.  If you are in the humanities or certain fields of the social sciences, the job market is very bleak.  It may well be better when you graduate, but it may well not be.  There are troubling trends like MOOCs that, many people think, will  restructure much of education in a way that will reduce the number of tenure track hires.

 

How bad is the job market currently?  According to Harvard, as of the fall of 2012, only 52% of those who got a Harvard PhD in the humanities from 2006-2011 had an academic job.  (And it looks like, based on some other data they report elsewhere, that about 1/3 of those are in non-tenure-track positions.)  23% were "unemployed and searching."  And due to self selection bias in reporting, this data probably underestimates the number of unployed.  http://history.fas.harvard.edu/programs/graduate/program/documents/five-year-cumulative-all-fields-2006-2011.pdf

 

Because the job market, many people in the humanities, for instance, spend several years after graduating twisting in the wind with low-paid, time-consuming, and short-term lectureships and visiting assistant professorsips before either get a tt job or quitting academia.  If you are really committed to an academic career, you may well be signing up for a PhD + several years of uncertainty and scrapping by after that.

 

Of course not all fields and subfields are made the same.  Some of your fields will have excellent job prospects; others, terrible.  It behooves you to research the matter and think about the kind of bet your are making.  You are giving up 5-8 years of pay, and more importantly, 5-8 years in which you could be launching a different career.  When you graduate at age 30 with a PhD, you will have opened a few doors (for instance, you are an attractive hire for a private high school), but shut many more.

 

I am not saying you should not go.  That is a decision to make yourself.  Personally, I have found getting a PhD immensley rewarding.  But it has also come at a great cost. 

Edited by graduatingPhD
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Are you maybe second-guessing your own decision? Or just closer to the job market than others?

 

I think this article spells out in detail more of the poor reasons to attend graduate school: http://www.idealist.org/info/GradEducation/BadReasons

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I do greatly appreciate the insight! But, for those of us in the humanities, there really are not a whole lot of options. Either way, if we stop now, we are going to be working retail (if we are lucky to get a job at all over minimum wage) with our degree(s) in English, German, Religion, Philosophy, and so on. Again, for many of us, there is no pay cut. In fact, a PhD stipend is more money than I have ever made (I'm in my early 30's!). At the end of the day, if I end up spending the next 5-8 years of my life working my ass off at something I love and I can't even get a job teaching High School when it's all said and done, oh well. Again, given our options, and if we secure decent funding at a good program, why the hell not? If I'm going to be working at Taco Bell end game, I might as well get paid while I am earning a PhD before my career making burritos begins. Coming from someone who has spent time making burritos, working totally awful bottom of the barrel jobs, I can absolutely say IT IS WORTH IT. If you're paying for your PhD that is another story, of course. But for most of us, even that meager 15k stipend is pretty goddamn okay. 

 

cheers

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STEM guy here. I've been told that going to grad school would result in me making less money in the long run, but I personally do not care. I figure I get to be paid to do what I love for half a decade, and that's totally worth it. Plus, I feel like my options expand when I get out of grad school.

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I left a masters program in history to work in medical research a few years ago. It's not true that people who leave humanities programs won't be qualified for other things. I think a lot of people interested in academia underestimate the other types of jobs out there that they could be happy doing. One of my classmates in public health works in digital records management now, which is a really interesting growing field. I still do journal research, write papers and presentations, and read and summarize primary sources most of the time-- my primary sources just happen to be medical records now.

 

Even in many STEM fields there are many grant-funded positions, and I think anyone pursuing this path, in any field, needs to think seriously about what they would be qualified to do if they're ever unwilling or unable to keep that funding ball in the air. If you'd be happy with your backup plan, but the completed PhD will make it harder to sell yourself there (e.g. by making you look less sincerely interested in that career path), then whatever stipend you earned as a student isn't worth it.

 

I'd also like to add that the constant "oh well, long-term poverty will be worth it to follow my dream" comments that I see on these boards come off as very naive and privileged. Poverty isn't a romantic, ascetic condition, and short-term graduate student poverty is very different from long-term poverty with few marketable skills, as you grow older and your support network thins. Not only is it off-putting to employers, including academic ones, who want skills, not "passion", it's insulting to other people reading who have actually experienced poverty or plan to use their luck and talents to ameliorate it.

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I dunno, I didn't read "long term poverty will be worth it if I can follow my dream" so much as "I'm gonna be in long term poverty ANYWAY, so I may as well follow my dream". Well that or "I don't care so much that I'm making slightly less than my non-grad counterparts since I'm following my dream".

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I do greatly appreciate the insight! But, for those of us in the humanities, there really are not a whole lot of options. Either way, if we stop now, we are going to be working retail (if we are lucky to get a job at all over minimum wage) with our degree(s) in English, German, Religion, Philosophy, and so on.

 

This is false.  I always tell the story of the philosophy major I supervised in res life who is currently managing a business.  I also know a history major who ended up working at Merrill Lynch directly out of college.  The truth is, most corporate/business jobs don't care about your major so much as they care about your skills and abilities.  Humanities graduates tend to be strong writers who are able to synthesize and analyze large amounts of information and communicate well - all things businesses value.  A humanities major who has a little internship experience could be a potentially strong candidate for a number of fields, and it's patently false that humanities majors always end up working retail or fast food with their BAs.

 

It is true, though, that PhD holders have overall lower unemployment than BA holders (I think it's currently at 1.2%, vs. something like 5 or 6 percent for BA holders).  So it may end up being a smart move to get a PhD if you really love your field, want to study it for 8 years, and don't mind the fact that you probably won't get a tenure-track job at the end.

 

Most people, however, are likely going to the PhD because they want a specific job: specifically, they want to be a tenure-track professor.  They probably want to be a tenure-track professor at a school where they can work with smart undergraduates (like themselves) and do some scholarship on a particular area in which they are really interested.  I think the OP's post is directed at those folks.  Quite frankly, the TT professor of yore is going the way of the dodo and is largely being replaced by contingent faculty (adjuncts, NTT permanent faculty members, faculty contracts, and graduate students).  Ironically, we grad students are inadvertently contributing to the demise of the very jobs we want - if the university can just use cheap grad student labor to teach freshman composition and intro psych or whatever to 150 bored undergrads, why the heck should they hire someone at 2-4+ times the salary and full benefits with an office and all the overhead that requires?

 

But I think anyone contemplating a PhD should be faced with the ugly truth and then make a well-informed decision about whether they want to continue.  Personally, I read all the articles and decided to go anyway, partially because my field is one of the less-impacted ones and partially because I am totally and 100% okay with getting a non-academic job or, indeed, a job that never required a PhD in any case.  Sometimes in moments of frustration I wonder why the eff I did this, but if I think about this more generally (and with the rosiness of being nearly finished), I'm really glad I did the PhD.  I learned a tremendous amount and picked up a large amount of both hard and soft skills that I will take into whatever job I do end up doing.

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I think it’s significant that the OP has posted this same “discussion” on four different pages here on GradCafe. We’re all beginning to wonder what the true motivation is here. 

 

Less competition for future tenure track positions. I'd like to also take a moment here to discourage anyone in my field from pursuing a PhD as well.  :D

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I posted an entry entitled "Alternatives to a Phd" and for whatever reason, only one person replied to it. I thought it would make sense to get people's opinions, and even helpful information pertaining to alternatives to putting yourself through 5-8 more years of school. 

 

You hear people talk about how bleak the job market can be, how higher education is such a gamble, and how many think it is a waste of time. I understand that it's important to having all the pros and cons of life decisions, but I'm really no longer interested in what NOT to consider for a career. Alternatives to obtaining an undergraduate degree is typically seen as vocational/trade school, or moving your way up in food service or retail. But those of us who have a bit more education only find information about getting more education. 

 

Is this just the typical "Oh well" mentality, in which complacency takes over, instead of problem solving? Doesn't anyone have a say in regards to what people with Master's Degrees can/should consider instead of going for a phd? Why isn't this information more readily available? 

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Is this just the typical "Oh well" mentality, in which complacency takes over, instead of problem solving? Doesn't anyone have a say in regards to what people with Master's Degrees can/should consider instead of going for a phd? Why isn't this information more readily available? 

 

Perhaps there's no information because it's so specific to discipline? Anyone with a Masters is equally overqualified for retail/food jobs, but any other work depends on what your academic and professional background is. When I graduated undergraduate there were some helpful resources - although they overreached in some cases and were outdated in some positions - along the lines of: You have this degree, you can do this, and this, and this ...

 

Or because people in academia know less about the "outside" job market - in the same way professionals know little about academics, outside of the more vocational/technical/business aspects. It's not a completely different world, just a different market. So it's no surprise faculty will encourage their brightest students to obtain more degrees and apply for academic jobs - it's just the market they know best. I studied liberal arts in undergrad, and went to a fairly academic graduate program, where learning related to one's career or the job market was generally looked down on as technocratic at best, and sellout-ish at worst. There's a NY Times article that notes that most liberal arts colleges put career offices "somewhere just below parking". Now graduate programs that have some connection with the private sector appeal to me, even if I won't go down that track.

 

Or because this forum is geared towards people applying to graduate school - there is a certain zero-sum game aspect of applying: in many ways it's a small lottery, with the win being a full funded offer at a top school. This doesn't lend itself well to rational discourse on the merits and pitfalls of graduate school (although I'm sure those conversations occur before and after the application process): we're all looking for that golden ticket. Either that, or the sample doesn't represent the population - everyone here, for valid or less valid reasons, has already made the decision to pursue graduate school, so that explains the lack of perspectives from the professional side.

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I do greatly appreciate the insight! But, for those of us in the humanities, there really are not a whole lot of options. Either way, if we stop now, we are going to be working retail (if we are lucky to get a job at all over minimum wage) with our degree(s) in English, German, Religion, Philosophy, and so on. Again, for many of us, there is no pay cut. In fact, a PhD stipend is more money than I have ever made (I'm in my early 30's!). At the end of the day, if I end up spending the next 5-8 years of my life working my ass off at something I love and I can't even get a job teaching High School when it's all said and done, oh well. Again, given our options, and if we secure decent funding at a good program, why the hell not? If I'm going to be working at Taco Bell end game, I might as well get paid while I am earning a PhD before my career making burritos begins. Coming from someone who has spent time making burritos, working totally awful bottom of the barrel jobs, I can absolutely say IT IS WORTH IT. If you're paying for your PhD that is another story, of course. But for most of us, even that meager 15k stipend is pretty goddamn okay. 

 

cheers

THANK YOU. This is a great bit of perspective on a doom-and-gloom topic!

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Not trying to be a jerk here - just taking advantage of the open forum. As someone who's migrated from the Science (BS) to Engineering (PhD), it really suprises me the number of people who go on and get a PhD in the humanities. I do love what I do, but the other half is knowing that my work is useful in a world that becomes more overcrowded and 'complex' by the day. I'm sure there are topics in the humanities which are useful, but when these PhD students usually talk to me, its usually about 'Abraham Lincoln studies' or 'Socrates Interpretation'. It boggles my mind that funding even exists for these topics in a time when the EPA can barely afford to give out their already low-paying fellowship awards. Sorry, I know this is harsh to some. It just seems like there are way too many going this route, and that the 'job prospects' agree with me.

Edited by threnagyn
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 I do love what I do, but the other half is knowing that my work is useful in a world that becomes more overcrowded and 'complex' by the day. 

 

I get where you're coming from, and we've all been there, but I enjoin you to consider that your opinion is rooted in ignorance.

 

What is, pray, "useful"? Is it something that we can make a product out of? Is it merely something that can be sold? Does it have to be useful now, or is it still useful if it becomes useful many years later? I ask because the notion "'useful" derives its meaning from 1) the contrast to "useless", and 2) the contextual parameters in which you define it.

 

I can't deconstruct your argument until you answer these questions, but I can give a couple pointers re its founding assumptions.

 

Your first point. You are perhaps implying that 'Abraham Lincoln studies' and 'Socrates Interpretation' are too esoteric or too historically removed to be "useful". However, is everything esoteric and removed necessarily "useless"? HEP is pretty esoteric and pretty removed, given that it's founded on a theory invented 200 years ago, which might be wrong anyway. Academic geometry is pretty esoteric, since it is very needed by those same high-energy physicists but more or less by nobody else. My own degree is in economics, and oh man, I can tell you, unless you're doing quant finance, whatever you're doing is some high-octane bullshit. But your own degree, engineering. I know an engineer who's building these little flying things out of spy movies that are super cool, but otherwise the only use they have so far is inspiring a very detailed model of the mechanics of insect flight. I imagine in engineering, as in other professional fields, the hivemind is closer to yours, but in general academia, I have yet to encounter an academic who has a gripe with study being useless, as long as it is original and elucidatory.

 

To your second point, the market will decide us. However, a caveat: the market system operates by consumer demand, which reflects consumer preference, not usefulness of the good traded. Of course, sometimes we want things because they are useful in general, like food or oxygen, but other times - indeed, most times in developed economies - we want things for other reasons, ie because they are useful to us. Perhaps that will clear up your confusion as to why this humanities bullshit is being funded. Further, I would like to remind you that, in recent history, the sciences have been privileged for a lot of good reasons, and a lot of bad reasons too. One reason for privileging STEM in the states, and pretty much the main reason for the higher education complex and the ridiculous salaries professors get, is the Cold War arms race. I mean, yeah, building nuclear bombs and putting Neil on the moon is really cool - but is it, by your definition, "useful"? There is a rhetoric in the United States that if you pour money into the sciences, they will eventually come up with a way to cure cancer or invent Atlantis because scientific inquiry is incremental and accidental - at least, this rhetoric has been explicit in my K-12. But it is, nonetheless, a rhetoric. There is no essential reason why the sciences must receive more (or all, according to you) funding than other fields. Indeed, in many countries, the sciences do not receive such funding, or they do not receive funding at all. That's why for so many people grad school in the states is such a good deal.

 

Lastly, it seems to me that you know very little of what people in the humanities actually do. The R1 researchers are cultural theorists of some sort. It sounds corny and a little communist, but bear with me: they contextualize social movements within the dominant social belief system, so that we may understand what is going on in the world. Of course, that's just the couple hundred researchers at the very top of the hierarchy. The rest pretty much teach. That's basically the "crisis" in humanities hiring in a nutshell.

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Not trying to be a jerk, either, but as someone who migrated from science to humanities, it really surprises me the number of people who go on and get a PhD in the sciences. I love what I do, but the other half is knowing that my work is useful in understanding and interpreting a world that is more overcrowded and 'complex' by the day. I am sure there are topics in the sciences that are useful, but when these PhD students usually talk to me, it's usually about 'Euclidean vectors' or 'seasonal reproductive success of sandgrouses.' It boggles my mind that funding even exists for these topics in a time when many Americans lack a basic knowledge of their own national history. Sorry, I know this is harsh to some. It just seems like there are way too many going this route. The number of STEM PhDs stuck in an endless loop of post-docs certainly agrees with me. 

 

 

 

Look, I actually have a deep respect for the sciences, but consider how ignorant the above paragraph sounds. I don't attempt to convince STEM people that their research is worthless because I can't immediately understand its significance (you're going to spend your entire life observing the mating rituals of jellyfish? that's cool). Knowledge production in the humanities differs from that in STEM, but we need people devoted to the task of interpreting and challenging our social structures and cultural norms, just as we need people to push the boundaries of our knowledge of the natural world. 

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I get where you're coming from, and we've all been there, but I enjoin you to consider that your opinion is rooted in ignorance.

 

What is, pray, "useful"? Is it something that we can make a product out of? Is it merely something that can be sold? Does it have to be useful now, or is it still useful if it becomes useful many years later? I ask because the notion "'useful" derives its meaning from 1) the contrast to "useless", and 2) the contextual parameters in which you define it.

 

I can't deconstruct your argument until you answer these questions, but I can give a couple pointers re its founding assumptions.

 

Your first point. You are perhaps implying that 'Abraham Lincoln studies' and 'Socrates Interpretation' are too esoteric or too historically removed to be "useful". However, is everything esoteric and removed necessarily "useless"? HEP is pretty esoteric and pretty removed, given that it's founded on a theory invented 200 years ago, which might be wrong anyway. Academic geometry is pretty esoteric, since it is very needed by those same high-energy physicists but more or less by nobody else. My own degree is in economics, and oh man, I can tell you, unless you're doing quant finance, whatever you're doing is some high-octane bullshit. But your own degree, engineering. I know an engineer who's building these little flying things out of spy movies that are super cool, but otherwise the only use they have so far is inspiring a very detailed model of the mechanics of insect flight. I imagine in engineering, as in other professional fields, the hivemind is closer to yours, but in general academia, I have yet to encounter an academic who has a gripe with study being useless, as long as it is original and elucidatory.

 

To your second point, the market will decide us. However, a caveat: the market system operates by consumer demand, which reflects consumer preference, not usefulness of the good traded. Of course, sometimes we want things because they are useful in general, like food or oxygen, but other times - indeed, most times in developed economies - we want things for other reasons, ie because they are useful to us. Perhaps that will clear up your confusion as to why this humanities bullshit is being funded. Further, I would like to remind you that, in recent history, the sciences have been privileged for a lot of good reasons, and a lot of bad reasons too. One reason for privileging STEM in the states, and pretty much the main reason for the higher education complex and the ridiculous salaries professors get, is the Cold War arms race. I mean, yeah, building nuclear bombs and putting Neil on the moon is really cool - but is it, by your definition, "useful"? There is a rhetoric in the United States that if you pour money into the sciences, they will eventually come up with a way to cure cancer or invent Atlantis because scientific inquiry is incremental and accidental - at least, this rhetoric has been explicit in my K-12. But it is, nonetheless, a rhetoric. There is no essential reason why the sciences must receive more (or all, according to you) funding than other fields. Indeed, in many countries, the sciences do not receive such funding, or they do not receive funding at all. That's why for so many people grad school in the states is such a good deal.

 

Lastly, it seems to me that you know very little of what people in the humanities actually do. The R1 researchers are cultural theorists of some sort. It sounds corny and a little communist, but bear with me: they contextualize social movements within the dominant social belief system, so that we may understand what is going on in the world. Of course, that's just the couple hundred researchers at the very top of the hierarchy. The rest pretty much teach. That's basically the "crisis" in humanities hiring in a nutshell.

 

I thoroughly read your post, and I generally like it - but there are some things I disagree with. I don't agree that the technological arms race (man on the moon, nuclear bomb development, etc) is necessarily useless. Aside from the other applications of these technologies, the use of these technologies in their current forms has dramatically altered the balance of power in this world, influencing the lives of everyone thats part of the global economy. We don't need to get into whether its for better or for worse (i.e. vs. what it would be like under USSR control). Either way, these things have resulted in the self-preservation of western societies and is why we live in a westernized world. I also never stated that the sciences should receive all the funding and I don't think this should be the case. I just don't think they should be funded equally. I know they are not funded equally on the graduate level and above level, but they are on an undergraduate level. 

 

We give money to public universities for a reason - its an investment we make on ourselves (mostly an economic benefit). Given this, wouldn't we want to give more funding to studies that translate into jobs that offer society a better return on its investment? A person goes to a school and has to pay a certain amount of tuition, with the other expenses being paid by the gov., equally no matter whether its science, business, engineering, history, art, etc. If anything, engineering tuition is higher because of the associated technology fees. If we gave a little more (not too much more) to degrees that had a higher rate of return, it would encourage more people to go into these demanding fields and our economy would do better as a result.

 

While you may not agree with what I am saying and would argue about the importance of preserving the humanities, I don't see why you would say a statement like mine is born out of ignorance - Seems kind of strange as its not an outlandish idea to have.

 

To Mocha - In general, I wouldn't be super supportive of someone studying the mating rituals of jellyfish either. At my school, a top 10 in engineering and science, I have yet to meet anyone studying the mating rituals of anything. Most people I meet are doing quality research relating to water quality, air quality, bioremediation, health care studies, climate change, etc.

Edited by threnagyn
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Not trying to be a jerk here - just taking advantage of the open forum. As someone who's migrated from the Science (BS) to Engineering (PhD), it really suprises me the number of people who go on and get a PhD in the humanities. I do love what I do, but the other half is knowing that my work is useful in a world that becomes more overcrowded and 'complex' by the day. I'm sure there are topics in the humanities which are useful, but when these PhD students usually talk to me, its usually about 'Abraham Lincoln studies' or 'Socrates Interpretation'. It boggles my mind that funding even exists for these topics in a time when the EPA can barely afford to give out their already low-paying fellowship awards. Sorry, I know this is harsh to some. It just seems like there are way too many going this route, and that the 'job prospects' agree with me.

 

Where do the social sciences fall in your opinion? (genuinely curious)

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This just in: a few STEM folks have decided to deride the nature of humanities -- halfway through their opposition, the strange symbols on their keyboards no longer made sense. Words became meaningless. Literature ceased to exist. For those who thought they could or would communicate through image or symbol, all forms of creation by humans became shapeless void, not abstract expressionism, but something much more confounding akin to the mysterious dark matter which occupies our universe?

What is it? How can we comprehend it? We may never know, as the need to communicate has escaped them. Can they communicate by music? We'll never know -- the arts are not a portion of the almighty STEM. We may only hope to someday communicate with such higher beings who need no arts, or literature, have no history, and therefore no past -- no morals and thus no ethical dilemmas. Perhaps time will tell the usefulness of their ascendence into a higher plane of useful being. Until then.....they seem to understand capitalism to some small degree insofar as it gives them money.

....For every other STEM person, or SS or Humanities folk -- we can recognize that "use" and "Value" are being determined by "money" and not of societal importance of knowledge or information -- and that the poster is A.) a troll and B.) recognizing the problem in Graduate school ed isn't just *one* type of graduate degree, and won't be solved by fussing "it's those damn literature majors, I just know it!"

Edited by m-ttl
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To Mocha - In general, I wouldn't be super supportive of someone studying the mating rituals of jellyfish either. At my school, a top 10 in engineering and science, I have yet to meet anyone studying the mating rituals of anything. Most people I meet are doing quality research relating to water quality, air quality, bioremediation, health care studies, climate change, etc.

It wasn't mating, but research on jellyfish bioluminesence revolutionized molecular biology and the biomedical sciences and lead to a Nobel Prize in 2008. It's the type of thing which is generally derided as trivial or useless, the project which lead to it being cloned in the first place was even defunded. The only reason we have it is because that (former) scientist was generous enough to share his data with other scientists when they called him up. You can't just say that studying x is of no value, because without studying it, you have no idea what you are going to discover.

I am not as well versed on the humanities, but I am very loathe to dismiss scholarship because I don't see an immediate use for it.

Edited by Vene
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I thoroughly read your post, and I generally like it - but there are some things I disagree with. I don't agree that the technological arms race (man on the moon, nuclear bomb development, etc) is necessarily useless. Aside from the other applications of these technologies, the use of these technologies in their current forms has dramatically altered the balance of power in this world, influencing the lives of everyone thats part of the global economy. We don't need to get into whether its for better or for worse (i.e. vs. what it would be like under USSR control). Either way, these things have resulted in the self-preservation of western societies and is why we live in a westernized world. I also never stated that the sciences should receive all the funding and I don't think this should be the case. I just don't think they should be funded equally. I know they are not funded equally on the graduate level and above level, but they are on an undergraduate level. 

 

We give money to public universities for a reason - its an investment we make on ourselves (mostly an economic benefit). Given this, wouldn't we want to give more funding to studies that translate into jobs that offer society a better return on its investment? A person goes to a school and has to pay a certain amount of tuition, with the other expenses being paid by the gov., equally no matter whether its science, business, engineering, history, art, etc. If anything, engineering tuition is higher because of the associated technology fees. If we gave a little more (not too much more) to degrees that had a higher rate of return, it would encourage more people to go into these demanding fields and our economy would do better as a result.

 

While you may not agree with what I am saying and would argue about the importance of preserving the humanities, I don't see why you would say a statement like mine is born out of ignorance - Seems kind of strange as its not an outlandish idea to have.

 

To Mocha - In general, I wouldn't be super supportive of someone studying the mating rituals of jellyfish either. At my school, a top 10 in engineering and science, I have yet to meet anyone studying the mating rituals of anything. Most people I meet are doing quality research relating to water quality, air quality, bioremediation, health care studies, climate change, etc.

 

Hey! For future reference, gradcafe usernames appears left-justified in the blue bar (mine would be hj2012). "Mocha" is just a nifty little gradcafe moniker for how many posts you have. :)

 

I suppose I'm just confused by your argument, because in our present world the humanities and STEM are NO WHERE near equally funded. There is far, far, far more money for STEM than the humanities. Google "scholarship for humanities" and "STEM scholarships" and see which way the pendulum swings. My programs (in the humanities) accepted 5-10 students per cohort; it's not uncommon to see STEM cohorts triple or quadruple that size. I find it interesting that you are bemoaning the lack of funding for university STEM students when (1) STEM funding far outstrips the humanities; (2) STEM carries much greater prestige; and (3) STEM students and faculty outnumber those in the humanities.

 

The fact of the matter is that our society already places a very high premium on STEM, and the number of humanities students is already dramatically and drastically shrinking. I'm not arguing that humanities funding should outstrip (or even equal) funding for STEM. But I do think it would be a real shame for our society if the humanities died out altogether -- and these days, they're in real danger of doing so.

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I suppose I'm just confused by your argument, because in our present world the humanities and STEM are NO WHERE near equally funded. There is far, far, far more money for STEM than the humanities. Google "scholarship for humanities" and "STEM scholarships" and see which way the pendulum swings. My programs (in the humanities) accepted 5-10 students per cohort; it's not uncommon to see STEM cohorts triple or quadruple that size. I find it interesting that you are bemoaning the lack of funding for university STEM students when (1) STEM funding far outstrips the humanities; (2) STEM carries much greater prestige; and (3) STEM students and faculty outnumber those in the humanities.

 

 

I agree. Funding is already inequal between the two: the claim that somehow market forces exist only outside of Universities is a very doubtful one. Even if this were the case, the incentives of future wealth for certain majors is already a motivation for students - if a student who majors in a STEM field has to take out loans, it's more likely they will be able to pay them off sooner with their future salary. So it doesn't make sense that tuition for these high-paying majors should be somehow subsidized by the University, since these students will gain a return anyways. There's always the anecdote the undergraduates will prefer majors that are less work (easy A's), or are more "fun" to take, but I'm not sure if there's research to back this up, and it verges on arguing that non-STEM and intellectually stimulating majors in the arts and humanities aren't useful either: and we arrive at the main argument here.

 

I'm in a field that is relatively interdisciplinary, Education, so there are programs and faculty which are geared more towards quantitative research - evaluation using numbers, standardized testing, etc. - which is better aligned with the market, and more likely for students to find jobs after graduating. However, there's also programs, faculty, and students who bring more of a social sciences or humanities approach: Philosophy of education, Sociology, Anthropology, etc. Some people do both. I bring this up because this spectrum might be reflective of society in general: the scientists/technocrats are as useful as the humanists, because we live in a world that is not only built of mechanical and biological processes, but replete with complex social interchanges and aesthetic possibilities.

 

But what do I know? I studied Arts, became an Art Teacher, and am know pursuing Education, two of the most worthless majors one can get (although the elitist in me must point out that I did not attend any of the dubiously termed "waste of money" institutions mentioned here).

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But what do I know? I studied Arts, became an Art Teacher, and am know pursuing Education, two of the most worthless majors one can get (although the elitist in me must point out that I did not attend any of the dubiously termed "waste of money" institutions mentioned here).

You know something has gone wrong when majoring in education leads to a negative ROI.
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Hey! For future reference, gradcafe usernames appears left-justified in the blue bar (mine would be hj2012). "Mocha" is just a nifty little gradcafe moniker for how many posts you have. :)

 

I suppose I'm just confused by your argument, because in our present world the humanities and STEM are NO WHERE near equally funded. There is far, far, far more money for STEM than the humanities. Google "scholarship for humanities" and "STEM scholarships" and see which way the pendulum swings. My programs (in the humanities) accepted 5-10 students per cohort; it's not uncommon to see STEM cohorts triple or quadruple that size. I find it interesting that you are bemoaning the lack of funding for university STEM students when (1) STEM funding far outstrips the humanities; (2) STEM carries much greater prestige; and (3) STEM students and faculty outnumber those in the humanities.

 

The fact of the matter is that our society already places a very high premium on STEM, and the number of humanities students is already dramatically and drastically shrinking. I'm not arguing that humanities funding should outstrip (or even equal) funding for STEM. But I do think it would be a real shame for our society if the humanities died out altogether -- and these days, they're in real danger of doing so.

 

My cohort next year will be 5 students total. 

 

I'm just always disappointed that all discussions of the problems of academia and degrading value of the degree end up in STEM folks declaring the humanities useless and the problem. It's frustrating -- it pretends as if there is no interdisciplinarity between STEM and the humanities/arts. It acts as if there is no benefits or values to these subjects, nothing that could be useful, and, even in STEM, that's simply not true. I don't think that you can honestly run a world with only one discipline. 

 

I'm tired of such value calls from people I would otherwise hope would work for the greater whole rather than just themselves. 

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My cohort next year will be 5 students total. 

 

I'm just always disappointed that all discussions of the problems of academia and degrading value of the degree end up in STEM folks declaring the humanities useless and the problem. It's frustrating -- it pretends as if there is no interdisciplinarity between STEM and the humanities/arts. It acts as if there is no benefits or values to these subjects, nothing that could be useful, and, even in STEM, that's simply not true. I don't think that you can honestly run a world with only one discipline. 

 

I'm tired of such value calls from people I would otherwise hope would work for the greater whole rather than just themselves. 

 

Humanities people are useless. You don't contribute anything to the world except your stupid opinions. LMAO art history? what is that useful for? exactly

Edited by SciencePerson101
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