Flutterby™! : Should you go to grad school?

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Should you go to grad school?

2009-03-24 12:39:29.051631+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

Various people I know are becoming disillusioned with the education diploma industry. I know that Eric took many issues mentioned in the following to heart when he was choosing his career path, but Should You Go To Grad School looks at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go and extends that out to Computer Science.

[ related topics: Education ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-25 05:52:01.254112+00 by: ebradway

Both articles are 100% accurate. The Luis' article helps make the argument against the PhD for humanities. The Geography Department at the University of Colorado is currently the #2 ranked department in the USA. They start their tenure track faculty at $60,000/year - exactly half of what CMU starts their CompSci faculty. That's pretty much an across-the-board trend.

But Luis also points out some of the positives. Even though the judgement is pretty harsh at the end of the first six years - as a new tenure-track prof, you are given an immense amount freedom. Freedom to shoot yourself in the foot...

After spending a decade in the software salt mines, though, I find I can't stand how academics complain about how much they have to work. It's a total lie. I think the overall effort involved in maintaining a successful academic career is about 60%-75% of what I experienced writing software professionally. As an added bonus, academics have immense freedom in determining how that effort is distributed. It's very easy to, say, teach an extra class two semesters in a row and get an entire semester off from teaching to work on research.

Another funny thing is staying on top of academic research. My biggest problem is so many of many of the publications are immensely boring and poorly written. For a naturally slow reader, it's absolutely painful to get through most of the reading I need to do. On the other hand, I can also get a huge amount of the same content via workshops and conferences (like I'm at right now).

Dinner last night involved some amazing Korean food and some great connections that will likely foster my future career. Can't say it sucks...

Overall, though, I'm in a different position than many academics. I came into a "humanities" field with a huge advantage. I can actually shut myself in a room for a couple weeks and emerge with a few thousand lines of code that implement some curious new concept. All I have to do is write it up and go through the review process.

Another advantage I have is studying in humanities but with a very strong CompSci component. I don't intend to compete for a very, very few humanities jobs open up each year. I'll be applying for CompSci jobs. My advantage is that I don't have a CompSci degree. That gives me a built-in differential.

Of course, I also currently have a research job with the Federal Government... So I'm pretty well hedged.