New Face of Grad School

I’ll be back in force tomorrow (the draft of the damn chapter is almost finished), but in the meantime, here’s a story from the Chronicle of Higher Ed on how graduate humanities departments are finally decreasing the number of students they admit to their programs. Given the job market it’s probably about time, but there are all sorts of possible downsides as well.

Part of the article talks about the concomitant difficulty professors at research schools will have teaching specialized graduate seminars with far fewer students – how it will be difficult to have high-level discussions when there are so few students studying similar subjects and there are fewer opportunities to teach them advanced topics.

Yet another reason why we should try to replicate the grad seminar experience here on the blog…

(Wait a few days and the Chronicle story should switch from subscription-only to free)


3 responses to “New Face of Grad School”

  1. Erik Lund says :

    And just in time, too! (Trust, me, if you could hear me say that in my “sarcasm” voice, it would be hilarious.)

    I’d have somewhat more faith in this particular department’s conversion at this particular moment if I knew more about what their acceptance ratio was. The message that graduate school, and law school, and general undergraduate education, is a bad investment seems to be getting out there.

    Which points to the real problem, which is that there is a shortage of good jobs in general, not of academic jobs in particular.

    • jostwald says :

      Agreed. Another headline mentioned that another 20 or so law schools are being sued by former students for their misleading graduation/placement rates. No surprise that most programs provide very little objective data on placement rates, etc.

      Of course the statistics I see cited suggest not having a BA is even worse for employment and salary than having one (didn’t Winston Churchill say that?), but that doesn’t help students graduating with an average of $25,000 in student loan debt (un-dischargeable) and slim job prospects. And of course that says nothing about graduate programs, but now every undergrad student, no matter their abilities and skills, have been told they can (and need) to get a graduate degree. Which means more student loan debt, and I fear that won’t be worth it for too many students.

  2. Erik Lund says :

    Statistics? Who needs statistics when they can go all anecdoty?

    >”Hi, new hire? Our night crew guy just called in sick. Can you bus across the city on an hour’s notice and work a graveyard heavy labour shift?”
    -Tranch One: just-out-of-high-school-kid-living-with-parents: “No.”
    -Tranch Two: BA graduate with 25 grand debt: “May I have some more, please?”

    -So who passes probation for that awesome retail/warehouse job? Does powerful motivation count as an “asset in the job market?” Because if it does, we should seriously think about bringing indentured servitude back.

    Oh, wait….

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