Reblog> Lesser known, or avoided, ‘truths’ of academic life

Stuart Elden points to a piece by Daniel McCormack in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Some lesser-known truths about academe” which raises some interesting issues for consideration. I think the below in particular resonated with me…

Daniel McCormack, ‘Some Lesser-Known Truths About Academe‘ in The Chronicle of Higher Education. While this is a US focused piece, there is still much in here to consider for people in, or considering a career in higher education elsewhere. The writer is a post-doc in international politics who has decided to leave the sector.


Asking a professor whether you should pursue a Ph.D. is a little like asking The Rock – aka Dwayne Douglas Johnson, the world’s highest-paid actor last year – whether you should become an actor.

Once you enter a doctoral program, the main problem isn’t necessarily that you can’t finish. I know very few people who left graduate school because they weren’t smart enough to finish – it happens, but it’s rare. More often people leave because they just decide getting a Ph.D. isn’t for them. The truth is: It’s very difficult to understand what academic life is like until you actually try it, and lots of people try it and decide it’s not a good fit.

This, then, is why you should be wary of any advice you receive from professors about graduate school: It’s coming entirely from people who decided that academe was a good fit for them.

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