Thursday, March 29, 2012

Too soon?

There's an interesting piece in The Chronicle by Karen Kelsky filled with advice about grad school, and what to do before, during, and after. It includes this:
Go on the market while A.B.D. because you want to make your worst mistakes while you still have a year of financial support from your home department. Most people who prevail on the market need at least two years to do so.
I'm inclined to agree with her on this point. Although these days, many advise against going on the market ABD, given the stiff competition from a backlog of PhDs, if you go in knowing that you're not likely to succeed, you can use your failures as learning experiences. I was lucky and got a post-doc my first year (while ABD), but I definitely learned from my many failures that first (and second) year, and it (eventually) helped me. My third year, I actually got an interview with a school that passed me up the first two years I applied, so I either improved greatly, or was not so memorably bad that it hurt me.

On the other hand, going on the market ABD means you must survive another year of the ultimate experience in grueling horror.

~zombie

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Although I thought Dr. Kelsky's advice was quite prudent overall, I found myself scratching my head at this particular bit of advice. In full disclosure, I have never been an ABD job candidate, because watching others go through it in recent years convinced me that it would be a painful waste of time. I went on the market for the first time this past year, with degree in hand, and that was harrowing enough (and that's even with me actually landing a TT job at a school I like in a city I love).

I do not think that bombing on the market last year would have somehow made this process go better. Of course, if finances require that you try your luck, then you should do it. Otherwise, if you can scrounge together a year of post-degree funding, I would advise candidates to wait.

But as with so many things, there is no one-size-fits-all advice. I just know how incredibly GLAD I am that I probably won't have to do this again for some time, and I can't imagine blithely subjecting myself to it prematurely for the "learning experience".

Anonymous said...

I went on the market selectively this year as an ABD. (I'm at a Leiteriffic sort of place, but my CV is certainly not that of a rock star.) I got quite a few interviews, given the moderate number of positions I applied for (nearly a 20% application-to-interview rate), and ultimately accepted a 2-year instructor position.

Maybe I just got lucky, but I would certainly advise going out as ABD, if for no other reason than that it takes a great deal of time to write sample syllabi, teaching statements, research statements, course evaluation summaries, etc., and it'd be nice to be revising those documents when you go on the market "for real", rather than writing them for the first time.

Anonymous said...

The word "backlog" is interesting, but a good choice. As the number of applicants snowballs (and has been since 2009), I would estimate that there are about three to four times as applicants now on the market as there would be in a typical season.

That said, I wonder if committees who need another way to make a cut would consider eliminating those applicants who haven't been able to find employment within three years (or four, or whatever).

Some may want "fresh" - others "experience." Ideally you would want them to refrain from making that sort of judgment, though checking Leiter's hiring thread and stalking the candidates, I see that many of those hired are relatively new graduates and possess pedigree degrees.

I guess I am saying that joe/jane-schmoe from average-U who has a few years of experience under his or her belt stands less of a chance due to being perceived of as stale when set against fresh young talents from ivies.

The snowball isn't getting any smaller, but I am hearing rumors that programs are thinking about admitting fewer applicants in hopes of somehow easing the numbers on the market. Riiiight, like that's a good strategy.

Anonymous said...

Departments that advise students to go on the market while ABD should pay all the related expenses. Otherwise, it's not actually a learning experience, but rather an expensive exercise in futility. The small number of people with successful ABD job market searches should not be seen as a reason for everyone to do it.

Anonymous said...


The snowball isn't getting any smaller, but I am hearing rumors that programs are thinking about admitting fewer applicants in hopes of somehow easing the numbers on the market. Riiiight, like that's a good strategy.


Just a few threads ago a couple of commenters were berating philosophy departments for not admitting fewer applicants. Maybe you could say why you disagree.

Departments that advise students to go on the market while ABD should pay all the related expenses. Otherwise, it's not actually a learning experience, but rather an expensive exercise in futility.

Departments should pay at least a chunk of related expenses anyway. But why is it an exercise in futility? I think the first commenter (there is no one-size-fits-all advice) was right. Some people, like Zombie, have a not-too-horrible experience and do learn from their mistakes. For others it's a waste of time. (But "exercise in futility" seems wrong.)

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to remember that ABD is a lengthy stage of the process - sometimes it means a person who has an idea for a great project, but has only shown that one or two steps in the argument work. Other times, it means someone who is almost done. Where you are in the ABD process as the job market begins matters a great deal.

If you don't think that you could finish well within the same year you're on the market (where you should take your expectation of how much time the market will eat up and multiply it by 10), then you shouldn't go. I think one of the worst things that could happen is that you 'succeed' on the market, by present standards, by landing a one-year gig and then rush to finish a dissertation that isn't in good enough shape for you to use to your strength when you're back on the market next year. Or you take the job ABD and make matters worse for yourself the next go-round.

But if you are someone who is ABD and who is really and truly close to being done, I think it can work to your advantage. True, schools that value experience will look place those who have finished above you. Even with those committees, however, your work looks fresh. Your letters writers are talking about the promise of your project and what you could go on to do with it, which is always more psychologically appealing than what someone has managed to do with a once-promising project, even if he or she has done quite impressive things.

Either way I think that it is important, somewhere in the ABD years, to shadow someone that is on the market. Talk to them regularly, ask to see their materials (people in this spot are often grateful for a proofreader and a sympathetic non-marketeer to converse with), and follow what happens to them in the process. I did this and got much of the "learning experience" of going on the market without yielding my soul and my savings to the Eastern.

Anonymous said...

I have enough of a dissertation written that I'll be able to go on the market in October with my committee's blessing. But I won't. I'll defend the following August and go on the market with PhD in hand, and hopefully more publications.

This has been everyone's recommendation, and I'm surprised to see otherwise. Here's the rationale I've heard:

In today's job market, if you're not at a top-5 department, there's no reason for a committee to take a chance on someone without a PhD when they could hire someone with a PhD. Also, when I fail on the job market the first time out and then have a much better file the next time around, I want people writing letters that reflect my excellent file; but if they've already written letters, there's a temptation to just update them rather than writing brand-new ones.

Also, going on the market twice takes a crazy amount of time, and that time is better spent working on publishing and constructing syllabi.

it takes a great deal of time to write sample syllabi, teaching statements, research statements, course evaluation summaries, etc., and it'd be nice to be revising those documents when you go on the market "for real", rather than writing them for the first time.

I'd rather finish the degree, have five things under review, and set my sights fully on doing all this stuff, and only have to do it once. You're going to have to write them for the first time some time, and I'd rather it be at a time where I can dedicate all/most of my energy to it.

zombie said...

Anon 4:46 -- that's right. I suspect that Kelsky means someone who is ABD in the sense that they are really All But Done with the diss. I was finished with my diss when I went on the market the first time. All that was left was the committee review and defense. My letter writers had seen my completed diss. They didn't have to speculate about its content or quality.

I certainly wouldn't recommend that someone far from finishing the diss waste their time going on the market.

Anonymous said...

The general advice here seems strange to me. Given that it is a bad (horrible) job market, you don't want to risk having no options the following year. And if you defend before landing a job, your grad program most likely won't be able to keep you on another year. (Maybe it is unusual for departments, in general, to give failed job market candidates another year of funding. I don't know. But it is not uncommon in those programs that I am familiar with.)

Of course, you shouldn't be going on the market if you won't be able to defend prior to getting a job. And the departmental cover letter, as well as the letter from your adviser, should make it clear that you are ready to defend.

I got my degree from a "Leiterific" school, and the idea that I would defend before securing a job was never even mentioned. Going back at least 10 years, no candidate from my program has defended before securing a job. It was a prerequisite for going on the market (with the departments blessing), however, that my adviser had signed off on a full draft of the dissertation.

How different is the advice/practices at other schools? Does this vary greatly with "pedigree"?

Anonymous said...

Going on the job market ABD is fine if you do work in an in-demand niche area and are a potential AA hire. I've known several people who have landed TT jobs their first year out by fitting both of those requirement.

If, however, you're a white dude that does work in vanilla philosophy, don't bother. You're just throwing away money on interfolio.

Anonymous said...

it is good advice. I was short sighted, lazy, and ignorant my first year on the market and I did terribly. I did significantly better my second year on the market.

I had already defended my second year but had not finished all of the paper work to officially receive the PhD. I think having defended made a big difference (along with writing better cover letters and having much more polished documents in general).

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest here. The best advice is "don't get a PhD in Philosophy." If we're talking about odds, the odds are against you no matter when you go on the market.

Once you've committed to a PhD in Philosophy, it really doesn't matter when you go on the market. More than likely, you'll never get a full-time job. Go on the market early and often; for most people, it won't matter anyway.

Anonymous said...

I was an ABD for 5 years. A friend of mine at Harvard was an ABD for 13 years. My advice: stay ABD as long as possible, lie every year you're on the market that you will finish that year. You will then keep your funding until you find a job. Looking at the Leiter job placement post, I feel sorry for the Stanford and Yale grads who have to settle for jobs at Podunk State University. I also feel sorry for the administrators at Podunk U who will have to put up with hires who feel that they are entitled to more. There is nothing more dangerous than very smart and very disgruntled employees.

Anonymous said...

I went out as an ABD. One of the things that really surprised me about going on the market was how useful preparing the material was for my own work and dissertation. Figuring out how to describe my dissertation in a page for my research statement was helpful in seeing the basic structure of argument. Trying to come up with the best dissertation spiel in interviews made me crystalize what was most at stake in my project and why someone outside my small subfield should care about it. In addition I had two article-worthy papers that came from my writing sample and job talk.

Yes, there was some tedium involved, and I spent time writing cover letters and perfecting my teaching statement that could otherwise have gone toward working on the dissertation, but in all I got a lot professionally out of my experience on the job market.

Anonymous said...

"Once you've committed to a PhD in Philosophy, it really doesn't matter when you go on the market. More than likely, you'll never get a full-time job. Go on the market early and often; for most people, it won't matter anyway."

I'm an assistant professor at a 2nd-tier state school. Before taking this position, I had various positions at a top-50 US News school for 4 years. We hired this past year and I was stunned by all of the really bad applications we received. Of the 400 applications, 300 or so could be tossed out immediately because the applicant didn't even come close to fitting what we were looking for in terms of what they were able to teach. Sorry, but we don't need anyone who specializes in feminist epistemology or some of this other stuff. We (and the vast majority of schools) need someone who can come in and teach any intro class (m&e intro, ethics intro, logic, etc.), a wide range of mid-level major classes that are fairly mainstream, and upper-level seminars that are also pretty mainstream.

Looking at the applications, I think the greatest service that has been done to graduate students is that it seems like the vast majority of them have been prepared only to "teach" (or to function) at top-30 research institutions with graduate programs. Given that most of the grad students only encounter faculty members at top-30 research institutions with graduate programs it's not surprising. But, again, the vast majority of schools are not like this and the vast majority of jobs do not get filled by these types of applicants.

CTS said...

So... I heard today from a colleague that 2 of our best undergrads have been accepted, full freight, at 2 very good grad programs. On the one hand, I am thrilled; on the other hand... oh, dear.

We - even at our SLAC - are under increasing pressure to send our students off to grad school. I notice the English Dept is not conflicted about this, but I am.

I just do not know how to respond to this 'good news.'

Anonymous said...

In response to 8:58, I was also at a top ranked department, and the norms there were the same as the ones you describe. The standard practice was/is to go on the market in the fall, and defend the following summer. We were never given the sense that having a PhD in hand was any kind of advantage. If anything, I had the sense that it might be a disadvantage (perhaps publishing expectations are a bit lower for people who haven't defended yet).

From what I've heard, though, this is the sort of practice that varies with the pedigree of the department, and candidates from less Leiterriffic schools are more likely to be encouraged to have the PhD in hand before going on the market.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:50 makes a very good point about going on the market while ABD. Search committees need to keep in mind (and many seemingly do) that at many institutions, once the dissertation is defended, there is no possibility of funding for the successful individual. But many are not in a financial position to give up his or her funding, especially given how long it tends to take to land a position in the current state of the market. And there is no assurance now that even strong candidates from these departments will land postdocs or visiting positions. So, it is often foolish for a candidate NOT to stay ABD while going out on the market.

But then anonymous 1:50 says something incredibly stupid:

“I feel sorry for the Stanford and Yale grads who have to settle for jobs at Podunk State University. I also feel sorry for the administrators at Podunk U who will have to put up with hires who feel that they are entitled to more. There is nothing more dangerous than very smart and very disgruntled employees.”

I know many very strong candidates at Stanford, Yale, and elsewhere who are _extremely_ happy to “settle” for jobs at “Podunk State University”. And they aren’t looking at such “undesirable” jobs as mere stepping-stones to the “good” jobs they feel “entitled” to. And the candidates I know who have landed such positions are far from disgruntled. They get to do what they love. So it’s not the case that all “top” candidates are the asshats that 1:50 portrays them to be.

Anonymous said...

General Advice: Go out ABD.

(a)One of the largest factors in getting a job is that ever elusive thing: fit. Very few schools are hiring multiple years in a row. If you don't go out on your pre-defense ABD year, there are dozens of schools that you could have applied to that simply won't be around the next year (or in the next several years). If one of those would have been a good fit (which you can't really tell without going through the process), that is a big deal not having it around any more since it is so difficult to find.

(b) being stale is just as bad, and probably worse, that being inexperienced. Expect to go out on the market more than once. it is best to have none of those years be stale years.

Pure Anecdote: I went out ABD and have a top 20 job. The school, it turns out, wanted someone exactly like me. This was not obvious from the ad. Given how things went otherwise that year (and from talking to people on the committees) the idiosyncrasies that made me so appealing to the school I am at were the very features that made everyone else look elsewhere. So if I didn't go out ABD and find that one (great) school that I fit with, I am quite sure I would still be unemployed. Don't burn chances just because you don't think you look perfect because most of the schools you won't be looking perfect for won't be around the next year anyway and you might just look exactly right to one of them.

Anonymous said...

March 30 1:50PM, What kind of job did you get with such a long period as an ABD? How about the Harvard 13 years ABD? Common wisdom seems to be that potential academic employers esteem a shorter time-to-dissertation and that, accordingly, it is better for most of us to get out as soon as we can (i.e., as soon as our dissertations are good enough). Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The first comment is correct: there is no one-size-fits-all advice. I went on the market for the first time this year. I was ABD and I got a tenure-track job. And contrary to 3/30 10:35's suggestion, my work is not in an in demand area and I'm also a white male.

Going on the market is like buying a lottery ticket, but the ticket's expected payout depends on your personal situation (publication record, pedigree, and so on). So whether or not you should go on the market obviously depends on your own situation.

In response to 3/30 8:58's question: before the recession my department's general advice was to put off defending until after you've landed a job. But now the university essentially cuts funding after year 6, so you're strongly encouraged to defend then whether you've got a job or not.

Anonymous said...

11:06. Those are words of wisdom. I'm completely persuaded.

Anonymous said...

12:38, I got a crappy job at a small satellite of a large state university system. My friend got a job at a flagship state school but at a terrible location in the south. Both of us make less than $50k/year. But we should both be happy. We have tenure track jobs!?!

Anonymous said...

"Search committees need to keep in mind (and many seemingly do) that at many institutions, once the dissertation is defended, there is no possibility of funding for the successful individual."

This is something that PhD-granting institutions need to keep in mind, too. That is, PhD institutions need to do a much better job of helping their recent graduates. They have to know that, in any given year, most of their graduates will likely not get a job. So what are they doing to help out the students they invested in and trained?

My program has a system for hiring 2 VAPs from their own recent PhDs. These positions are 1-year, non-renewable, and come with a 2/2 teaching load. It's not a permanent solution, but it is an opportunity for recent grads to get one more year of work with pay, a decent title, and a favorable teaching load to encourage research.

Anonymous said...

2:36

There are lots of unemployed ABDs/PhDs who would see your two glasses as even slightly more than half-full.

Anonymous said...

"But we should both be happy. We have tenure track jobs!?!"

As practical advice: Yes, you should. You should try to see the positives. And there are positives.

Or you can focus on how things could be better (ignoring the negatives of those supposedly better situations--and there are negatives).

Whatever floats your boat, though.

Anonymous said...

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_789221.html

Article about adjunct faculty attempts to unionize in Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

My advice: stay ABD as long as possible, lie every year you're on the market that you will finish that year. You will then keep your funding until you find a job.

How many departments provide indefinite funding for their ABDs?! Certainly, not mine.

I feel sorry for the Stanford and Yale grads who have to settle for jobs at Podunk State University.

Why pick on Stanford and Yale, and not, say, USC or UC San Diego?

Anonymous said...

Whenever anyone complains about their job around here, they get lots of grief from those without tenure-track position. Now, I understand that lots of people say that they would be happy with any job. But I don't buy it. They might think it so, but they are likely wrong. There are lots of shitty academic jobs with crap pay, no travel money, unengaged colleagues, underfunded libraries, and students who could care less than honey badgers in shitty little towns. What's the opposite of sour grapes? Forbidden fruit? Greener grass? That doesn't sound right here. In any case, there is a good deal of irrationality about this. I understand it. I was in the same situation. I thought that I just wanted any job. Perhaps I'm ungrateful, but I would have been better off having to leave the business. No one could have told me that. I would have been pissed if they had. But it's true. Apart from the flexible schedule, the low end of this profession is really not so good. That's why we complain. That's why we are on the market. And that's why we are reading the smoker.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 3:50 PM.

I suppose most people think that they would be happy with crappy job in rural Mississippi because, well, at least it is a job, and surely one can upgrade from there.

But upgrading these days is almost as hard (if not harder) than getting a tenure track job in the first place. Is one really being ungrateful when one wonders whether spending the prime of one's life in rural Mississippi - with all the sacrifices that entails - is really worth it, merely for the sake of staying in philosophy? I can't take seriously that that's a question not worth asking.

One must surely be careful what one wishes for.

(Apologies to those who think working in rural Mississippi would be a dream come true - those people can substitute 'NYU' in what appears above.)

Anonymous said...

If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.

Anonymous said...

Sweet merciful lord:

"There are lots of shitty academic jobs with crap pay, no travel money, unengaged colleagues, underfunded libraries, and students who could care less than honey badgers in shitty little towns."

Unengaged colleagues? No travel money? I bet none of them play squash either. Whatever shall the bourgeoisie do with these sources of stable employment with salaries above the national average? (CHE data shows high 30s to be the low end of salaries for tenure track jobs. Crappy relative to the median philosophy professor, but great relative to the median American.)

As for the question of going out ABD, take a look at the Leiter threads for tenure track hires for the past few years. More than anything they show that this whole thing is a crapshoot. People without publications from weak PhD programs get jobs and people with publications from top 20 schools don't get interviews. The hiring patterns don't make much sense. Given that state of affairs there is no reason other than the expense to not go on the market ABD. My experience over the past few years is that the cost of applying is going down. More and more jobs are requesting that you email your materials or submit them through some online system. I spent over $1000 dollars two years ago and less than $500 this year.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this thread is the best place to ask about this, but it seems relevant to some things that are being discussed.

When I look at the Leiter hiring thread for this year, much of it does look quite random, but I notice that almost everyone hired has given multiple talks/conference presentations.

I have been on the market for a few years, I'm from a top-20 PGR school, and I have a few good publications. Unfortunately, no interviews this year. I'm wondering if my lack of conference presentations is significantly hurting me. Do you think that it is likely that conference presentations are very important for securing a tenure-track job?

Anonymous said...

"People without publications from weak PhD programs get jobs and people with publications from top 20 schools don't get interviews. The hiring patterns don't make much sense."

This kind of thinking increasingly frustrates me. The only reason why it wouldn't "make much sense" is if there's an expectation that only people from certain programs *should* get jobs, or if number of publications *should* translate to a job.

The fact is, people from weak programs can still be quite strong. They can be excellent teachers, excellent researchers, and do work full of promise. People from top programs can be limited thinkers, whose publications show a very narrow range (see 8:20's comments about the necessity for a broad range of teaching).

There's no magic formula that translates to a job. Though such comments as the above suggest that there is, and a good many search committees repeatedly get it wrong.

Anonymous said...

7:19,

I doubt that conference presentations are given much weight for their own sake, but they can be very valuable because of the networks they generate. I was accepted as a grad student to one of the top conferences in my specialty, and after giving my paper I had email exchanges with several well-known philosophers. This improved the paper quite a bit (which was my job market writing sample), and I'm pretty sure that word of mouth from that conference got me a couple of interviews. (At one on-campus interview, I arrived to find that my [unpublished] paper had been assigned reading in a grad seminar.)

So, my guess is that it's not a coincidence that conference presentations are correlated with success. But I also suspect that you could get the same benefits by getting your work read through other channels. (Unfortunately, we all know that most published articles don't get read quickly if at all, so publications are not going to help much on this count, unless you get them into the very top journals.)

Anonymous said...

@ 7:19

Don't worry... I've had quite a few conference presentations as well as some that I've helped organize and at which I presented. None of it helped a bit, because out of 30 something applications I did not get one interview!
In my case, just last night thanx to Leiter hiring thread I found out that I did not get the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology postdoc at WashU. As someone who has undergrad and master's degrees in psychology, who has done graduate research work in neuroscience, and who has a phd in philosophy of science I did not get it! This is pretty hard to digest and I simply do not know how much more humiliation I can take.
The simple fact is this: the current state of our field(s) is such that there is no rational way in which jobs are distributed. There may be "rationalizations" with which SC's kid themselves but of course they constitute no consolation for the bitterness that the unwanted feel. Because of all this, another simple fact is that there is no justice in the job market. So, it takes an immense degree of sacrifice, perseverance, and love for the field to stay in it, something which I don't know, like many of you, how much longer I can retain.

Anonymous said...

(CHE data shows high 30s to be the low end of salaries for tenure track jobs. Crappy relative to the median philosophy professor, but great relative to the median American.)

According to Wikipedia, the median American man earned $45K and the median American woman earned $35K in 2007.
The median for college graduates is surely higher.

Anonymous said...

"Is one really being ungrateful when one wonders whether spending the prime of one's life in rural Mississippi - with all the sacrifices that entails - is really worth it, merely for the sake of staying in philosophy?"

I don't think it is really a question of being ungrateful, etc. And I don't think anybody is saying that you can't be as fucking unhappy and pissed off about your lot in life as you want to be.

They are pointing out that while your glass might not be full (relative to your hopes and expectations), it sure ain't empty.

And, just maybe, your life would be better (not to mention the lives of the people who have to deal with you) if you focused on the positives rather than on the fact that you didn't get everything you wanted, or even deserved.

The thing is, lots of people are happy in rural Mississippi, or wherever, as you know. If you aren't -- or worse, think you can't be -- then that probably says more about you than about the job/location.

I've seen a number of people switch jobs/locations thinking that their unhappiness was due to such external factors. They went to the type of place they thought would make them happy. And a year later, when the new job/location was no longer so shiny, they regressed to their mean. They were unhappy again, associating it with some new external factor, and went back to bitching. And I stopped listening.

Anonymous said...

"People without publications from weak PhD programs get jobs and people with publications from top 20 schools don't get interviews. The hiring patterns don't make much sense."

Even stronger than 8:21, I'd throw in the reminder that the Leiter Report does not track "strength" and "weakness" in graduate education. It tracks "strength" and "weakness" in faculty reputation. So it should be no surprise that some low or unranked programs have better placement than some highly ranked programs.

Anonymous said...

"As for the question of going out ABD, take a look at the Leiter threads for tenure track hires for the past few years. More than anything they show that this whole thing is a crapshoot. People without publications from weak PhD programs get jobs and people with publications from top 20 schools don't get interviews."

How would you see top 20 school people not getting interviews from the Leiter thread?

Anonymous said...

"How would you see top 20 school people not getting interviews from the Leiter thread?"

Introspectively.

Mr. Zero said...

How would you introspect the Leiter thread? Unless you are the Leiter thread. In which case, a bunch of other questions come to mind.

Anonymous said...

If you really want to know what happened, track the connections, personal and professional, between the search committee members and the candidate who was chosen for the position. Then you will see the real injustice of it all.

Anonymous said...

"How would you introspect the Leiter thread?"

Meant as a joke (likely a bad one, but heh). But: One would introspect how the letters of the names look unlike the one's making up one's own, and knowing that you are from a top-20 Leiterific type of place, would "see" the lack in the thread. Of course, this won't work for everybody. But that seldom stops people in philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Not even people in philosophy would claim to introspect such things. They intuit them. Magically.

Anonymous said...

"According to Wikipedia, the median American man earned $45K"

Not sure where you're getting this. This is what I found on Wikipedia:

median *household* income: 45K
median individual male: 33.5K
median individual female: 19.6K

Also noteworthy:
median income with doctorate: 70.8K

Anonymous said...

4:21,

I found it here.

"The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round climbed between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113 (about 3.6 time minimum wage in 2006 to 3.7 time minimum wage in 2007)."

Anonymous said...

"the Leiter Report does not track 'strength' and 'weakness' in graduate education. It tracks 'strength' and 'weakness' in faculty reputation"

How true! I spent a few years working at one of the very top Leiter departments. It was one of the most miserable places for being a grad student, and the grad students I met were full of complaints. I've also worked at lower-ranked departments, which I found way better places for spending one's graduate years.

Perhaps the damage that Leiter's "ranking" is doing to grad students is worth a separate thread...

Anonymous said...

5:37,
After a number of years on the job (and several search committees), I feel comfortable saying that one reason so many people end up unhappy is that they were unprepared for what a full-time job as an academic requires. Grad school is wonderful in many ways: the teaching load is low, the service expectations are almost non-existent, and one is encouraged to spend most of one's time in research. Further, while conferences and publications are celebrated, they are not required. (That is, I have never heard of a grad student losing funding because he/she was not publishing.) Because of this, many graduates become frustrated very quickly when they realize that the job is not at all like grad school.

Recent hires (and I've noticed this in my program, other programs at my university, and other universities) are often unprepared for certain aspects of the job. Advising students (which requires learning how the major, the minor, and the college gen-ed programs all work) is both new and time-consuming for new faculty. As is service. Both of these are - for the first few years - a huge time-suck, and many get frustrated at how this works takes away from the parts of the job people are expecting (teaching and research).

But just as importantly, even if one is prepared for the teaching, new hires (particularly at my school, with a 4/4 load, or a SLAC with a 3/3 load) often end up teaching more courses/semester on the job than in grad school. So one must spend more time on teaching, *and* find time to sit on the department curriculum committee, meet with the faculty senate, and schedule 20 advising appointments just when you finish grading midterms. Additionally, one is often preparing new courses for the first couple of years (especially in small departments, where one is expected to cover more areas). Though this is no less the case at research schools; even if one is hired to a sweet 2/2 load at an R1, one may still find oneself preparing a graduate seminar for the first time (which, while fun, still takes time).

And additionally, one must research. Not that one should research, but one must research. Unlike grad school, research on the job is most certainly tied to your funding: publish or perish. This is true for all levels. "Teaching schools" may have lower publication requirements for tenure and promotion, but those requirements are still higher than what one found in grad school. In grad school, presenting at conferences and publishing articles was a job well done; in a TT position, they are how you survive reappointment. And given that many people want to publish their way into a better job, they are taking on R1 publishing expectations in addition to all the advising, service, and additional work on teaching expected of new hires.

In my first two years on the job, it didn't matter where in the country I was, because most of my time was spent in the office anyway. Rural Mississippi or mid-town Manhattan wouldn't have mattered; I spent more than 12 hours a day on campus. Yes, location will matter in the long run, but in those first few years on campus, most new hires are run so ragged that they have no idea where they are anyway.

Good schools do what they can to minimize this culture shock: no advising first year, reduced teaching load first year, easy committee assignments at first, etc. Even still, it's a huge change, and one that few PhD programs seem to prepare their graduates for. I think it's a shame that hD programs don't do a better job of preparing grads for the jobs they are sending students out to. It's frustrating that so many grad programs assume that they only job worth getting is a TT job in the field, and then turn a blind eye to what such jobs will actually require of their graduates.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you say, 6:16 - I try to impress upon our graduate students that I'm way busier now than I was as a graduate student.

But, other than that, I wonder what you think should be done to prepare graduate students for the TT reality?

squid pro quo said...

Anon 6:16 makes several excellent points - especially about the transition from grad school to teaching a 3/3 or 4/4 load. This is why I strongly disagree w/Dr. Kelsky's claim that there's no point in teaching more than 3 courses in grad school. I taught or TA-ed for 8 courses in graduate school, and have found that experience invaluable now that I'm teaching a 3/3 load. Having lots of teaching experience as a grad student enables you to know how to quickly and effectively design syllabi, grade, lesson plan, etc. All this experience has made the adjustment to a 3/3 teaching load much smoother for me.

Anonymous said...

6:16 here again.

Thanks for sharing, 7:15.

I admit, I'm more than a few years out of grad school, and I teach at a university with no grad program and a 4/4 teaching load. So while I could speak to what I would like recent grads to be prepared to do, I may not be the best person for specifics. (For instance, I'd be happy if new hires were at least *aware* that they had to do things like advise students. One semi-recent hire seemed offended when we told her she'd be advising undergrads.)

Maybe we could have a thread based on 7:15's comment? That is, for those who have recently been hired (and have spent at least one year in that job), what do you wish you knew ahead of time? What kinds of training/preparation/etc. was helpful for the transition, or would have been helpful?

I'm not trying to dodge 11:24's question. Rather, I think new faculty may be the best course of what is needed.

Similarly, what should hiring departments do? In my department, new hires have a year off from advising and are given easy committee assignments at first. In the second year, new hires are given advisees. In the third year, they are expected to branch out from department service to university service. But even with this system, the shock to many new hires is still profound.

CTS said...

" Maybe we could have a thread based on 7:15's comment? That is, for those who have recently been hired (and have spent at least one year in that job), what do you wish you knew ahead of time? What kinds of training/preparation/etc. was helpful for the transition, or would have been helpful?"


I think this is an excellent recommendation. I have tried to point out some of the realties of TT positions in other threads, although – admittedly – I have probably focused on the hiring end of things, insofar as that is a primary concern of this blog and its commenters.

I recognize that many commenters on this site are primarily concerned with obtaining a TT position. Still, I think that a realistic view of the available positions could inform both job searchers and those who find themselves in their less-than-dream-job TT positions.

Anonymous said...

Re: the "is any job teaching philosophy better than no job" discussion....

I used to think the answer was yes. But I also thought that my position was on the low end of things (teaching school, small department at a place many folks haven't heard of). Wow, was I wrong. I've since met folks who view my position as being in the same category as teaching at Amherst.

Some of our colleagues are teaching 5-5 course loads, 2 hours from the closest town, the only person teaching philosophy, housed in a department that actively disparages philosophy, with a library that has no access to JSTOR or other basic research tools.

This may be a particularly bad (and, hopefully, rare) situation. But, I know that neither my love for philosophy nor my love of teaching would enable me to be minimally happy in these circumstances.

squid pro quo said...

I think a thread about the transition from grad school to the first year on the job is a good idea. CTS notes that many threads here offer advice on how to find positions. I'd like to add that there's actually a lot of overlap here. In my experience, many of the same factors that have helped me transition relatively smoothly into my 1st year on the job also helped me get the job in the first place. Specifically I have in mind teaching-related stuff (I went from a Leiterrific R1 to 3/3 at a regional, teaching-oriented, university).

Anonymous said...

Are there things to conclude from the Leiter thread about placement success of top programs? Looks like, once again, MIT is the big uncontested winner, whereas things apparently didn't go so well for NYU, Rutgers, and Pitt. Of course, it's still early in the day.

Anonymous said...

11:15 AM

I would hardly use the phrase "big uncontested winner" to describe MIT. As far as I can see, they have secured 3 jobs. they are good jobs. but others (e.g berkeley, columbia) have done just as well and secured more positions. Chicago, it looks like, has gotten almost 10 people jobs with about 5 being TT. that, by at least one standard, is doing great.

Anonymous said...

12:17, MIT doesn't have all that many graduate students -- far fewer than Chicago. And I know of four really good jobs their candidates got, although I haven't scoured the Leiter thread so I'm not sure which is/are missing there. I do think MIT is the big winner. (I have no affiliation with MIT.)

Anonymous said...

Most of the MIT placements aren't up yet, for one reason or another. There are a bunch more coming.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's much point in debating about who the big winner is; clearly MIT did really well, as did Berkeley, Columbia and maybe Chicago. But what I find striking is the apparent lack of candidates from the big top 5 or 6. Any explanation?

Anonymous said...

"But what I find striking is the apparent lack of candidates from the big top 5 or 6. Any explanation?"

Yes. Candidates from other programs were judged by search committees to be better.

Anonymous said...

In case people are still interested, MIT put up a big post on the leiter thread. Short story is 8 tt hires (albeit one a lateral move by somebody who already had a tt job) and 1 postdoc.

Karen Kelsky said...

I just found this blog through the mention of a philosophy faculty reader who told me she came upon my Chronicle article and site through your link. So thanks for that.

This thread is deeply interesting. I want to add a clarification and a couple observations. By ABD I do mean someone who has most (but certainly not all) of their diss written and a firm defense date set. It is startling how well those candidates can do on the market.

By the same token, I have two clients right now who got very prestigious tt jobs as very early ABDs with barely anything written on the diss, and ended up in way over their heads, unable to move effectively to the asst prof role, and both now about to be turned down for tenure. Also interesting.

Although I'm happy to see that Anonymous #1 (first commenter) had smooth sailing, I would insist in general that the worst thing a job seeker can do is finish the phd, have no other irons in the fire, and then hit the market for the first time. That, sadly, is exactly the profile of my most desperate clients who, unsuccessful and with no financial buffer, and cut off from their depts, are now moving in to their parents' basement and the like, often with babies in tow, looking for wretched adjunct or even retail work, all the while trying to figure out how to write refereed journal articles... Bad, bad scene.

Anyway, I appreciate these many thoughtful comments and perspectives.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:37 here...

Does Karen Kelsky mean to say that she didn't bother to read through to the second paragraph of my post before responding to it?

I wrote, "Of course, if finances require that you try your luck, then you should do it. Otherwise, if you can scrounge together a year of post-degree funding, I would advise candidates to wait."

I certainly did not, and never would, advise that one put oneself into a position in which one is on the market with no financial support.

For the record, I never said it was "smooth sailing", either. I said it was "harrowing"!

DJ said...

I wonder how this is possible. I am familiar with Harvard. There is an upper limit of 10 years on the amount of time a student may be registered in the graduate school. Note that this is *total* time, not just ABD time. The limit is enforced school-wide, across all disciplines. There are exceptions to the policy but they are narrowly defined: basically, major medical leave, paternity/maternity leave, and active-duty US military.