Grad school nostalgia

2 December 2012

When I was searching for a job, one of my harried advisors said, “I don’t know why you want a job. Grad school is great. And jobs are so much work. You have no idea.”

I fumed. Well, it sure would be nice to have health insurance that isn’t oriented purely to health catastrophes, and a car that isn’t on the brink of collapse, and more than $64.25 in my bank account.

Yet here I am, ten years later, thinking, “I don’t know why you grad students want jobs. Grad school is great.”

I will never, ever say that aloud to anyone, for I remember too well the financial precariousness of grad school. But shit. You have no idea.


9 Responses to “Grad school nostalgia”

  1. Becky Says:

    Actually, some of us do understand the ambivalence. I had already worked FT for several years to save money for grad school before I actually went to grad school, and I felt the same way. It would have been great to have something to eat other than ramen noodles and peanut butter and some money in my pocket. Having said that, I would do anything some days to go back to grad school!

    • Didion Says:

      Me too. And it was the fact that I’d worked beforehand that made me less ambivalent about grad school once I was in it. But I feel like teaching eliminates your chance to have a sustained thought for more than that rare hour or two during the weekend….

  2. Dark Iris Says:

    I’m occasionally struck with the same nostalgia, but its a hazy recollection of a life with less responsibility. Student loans were deferred as well, and crippling debt seemed like more of an abstract concept. As I sit here trying to craft a compelling staffing proposal for the fourth year in a row, I am reminded that no one tells you about the crappy parts of academe. Is it our duty to dash the dreams of young scholars by giving them a dose of this reality??

    • Didion Says:

      I loved and hated grad school — I also remember the subjection, those truly toxic people, and the feelings of desperation surrounding questions like employment and failure. Which don’t entirely go away when you’re employed.

  3. Malkire Says:

    I think your reflections are excellent and I have nominated you for the liebster award:

  4. Spanish Prof Says:

    I was struck with the same nostalgia last week when I received an email from a former student that is in the first year of her PhD. The excitement she manifested, of all the things she is learning, and the enthusiasm for the courses she is and will be taking, was contagious.

  5. Hattie Says:

    Grad school is just ideal. In fact, it is what higher education is really about, the best part of it, when you can expand your mind, or, as you put it, feel your brain getting bigger.
    The question I always have is this: is being a professor harder and less satisfying for women than for men? Very general question, I know, but academic women don’t seem to report much job satisfaction, whereas the men seem OK with their work and even more than OK sometimes.
    Not having been a professor but interested in academics and academa, I’m curious about why this would be, if indeed that is the way it is, or am I completely off base?

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