On the state of the profession

This year does not look good.  Students are complaining that getting into graduate school is very difficult, while the  job market seems to be really limited this year.   People who might retire very soon and so free up jobs are probably being advised to wait.  In any case, lots of universities will have trouble hanging onto such jobs, one suspects. 

Are any of the APA committees collecting data, or preparing to do so?

We might remind ourselves that tenured jobs are not entirely safe.  Financial need can lead to restructurings and closing downs that can end a tenured job.  Has anyone experienced this?

Who are the most vulnerable?  I would bet that those who hold the adjunct-plus conditions, where one gets something like class rates plus a  retainer, may get withdrawn quite easily.  I hope that’s wrong, but since I experienced it once, I can say that it comes as an unpleasant exercise in you-versus-them.

If you feel like sharing a story of hardship in the present situation, please do so.  We need to know more about what  is going on.  If you have a survival strategy, please let us know!

11 thoughts on “On the state of the profession

  1. Graduate school this year? *Exceedingly* difficult.

    I was rejected at a school who, for all intensive purposes, gave me every indication that they’d see me in the fall (with funding).

  2. Reject, I’ve heard of schools who have had funding surprisingly cut. Sounds like that could have happened in your case. Bummer!

  3. Let me add, in case my comment sounded flip, that I’m really sorry to hear about that, reject. There are serious problems, these days, in encouraging undergraduates to think of a philosophy career, and for talented students that can be a very sad thing.

  4. I sent a PhD application to a university where I secured 3 people interested in my proposal, only to find I was rejected. It was naive of me to think that I’d automatically get in.

    I decided to change tack and apply for a specialist masters (instead of a PhD). I have been rejected twice more and am have been waiting 8-9 weeks from the other two universities that I applied to for an offer/rejection. Alas I still wait..

    A part of me feels that I will be rejected by the other two universities. I was once told that graduate schools were happy to let in people without funding. It has been my dream (viz my catholic/jesuit upbringing) to do philosophy but I feel that it is not really good to apply for any more universities or PhDs because I feel anxious to bother my supervisors even one more time.

    I read on a few books about how to get a PhD which say that if one gets a significant number of rejections it is better to consider doing something else. It breaks my heart, I’ve found it murdrous on the employment market, I’m in a financial/housing crisis which in turn has affected my friendships and my relationship with my girlfriend. Worse of all, I’ve considered a thing that I have never dared entertain in my life: giving up philosophy. Avoiding being homeless or living on benefits has suddenly become my priority.

    I feel that a plan B might be to save up money for a few years and do another masters and try once more to get into a PhD. This has been very harmful to my wellbeing in all sorts of ways. I understand that it is not right to feel a sense of entitlement; I have a masters degree, given two conference presentations and I have a forthcoming publication in late ’09, yet I’m unemployable and unrecruitable.

  5. Conatus, I’m really concerned that you have not been getting optimal advice. I’d advise a student to apply to 8 or more grad schools, and to pick perhaps two safeties.

    But let’s think ahead. Next year, if you still want to, apply to more schools. It is part of your supervisors’ jobs to write letters. Don’t worry about them. It is great that you’ll be publishing something. Are you somewhere where you could audit some courses while you work at a job that gives you basic living costs? Try to stay in touch with what’s happening at your school.

    You might look at whether any applied philosophy or science-connected philosophy appeals to you. You could consider working on a relevant expertise during the coming year. Medical ethics? Then see what you might find as a job in a hospital. Philosophy of mind? See in there are any intern positions in some psych lab. Language? Maybe see what might be available in a linguistics lab.

    i expect you can think of alternatives as well as I can. And have you talked to your supervisors? If they can’t say anything helpful, bad on them, not you.

    Let us know, please, how you are doing.

  6. I’m just a high school senior with hopes to going into Academia, and was lucky enough to get into all the colleges I applied to for undergrad. But I commented (in jest) at one point to my parents that one reason I wanted to get a ph.d. was that by the time I finished school the recession would probably be over…but maybe I should rethink that assumption.

  7. I have a different but related problem that is going on with my schooling right now. I ma seeing a huge lack of coming together or effort to work against the system. I am finishing a master’s degree in philosophy and have concentrated on feminist philosophy and I was supposed to graduate and then be able to teach and apply to doctoral programs. However my school failed to do some things with financial aid and the short of it is I can’t ever graduate or get my transcripts. I even tried to be able to make payment arrangements even though the bill is not my fault and they refuse to make arrangements with me unless I can pay what is nearly 1/2 my rent. I have sent queries out on a few listservs-for feminist philosophy and the onlyh replies I have gotten even to give advice were from my friends who already knew what was going on. I have worked hard and am a good feminist philosopher, I have spoken at quite a few feminist philosophy conferences in the last 2 years and have been active in helping out in SWIP when the conference is in my city. I am not saying I want anything specific in return but just that there is a notable lack of cohesiveness within feminist philosophers so that the more experienced people seem not to even want to bother to offer advice. SO as it stands I am a philosopher for 1 more month and then I am a plastic factory worker again which is ridiculous. Perhaps with more cohesiveness women’s place in philosophy would get better, at least women would get to stay if they choose to.

  8. Kate: I HOPE it is.

    VL: Is that 1/2 of a month’s rent? I would have thought your two better options would be either using some complaint mechanism within the school to get the issue resolved OR trying to save the sum over the summer and pay. I don’t know how much you’ve exhausted the first, but you won’t have much luck with the first tier of bureaucrats because they can’t or won’t want to get around the rules. There should be some sort of complaint or grievance mechanism.

    The second option might involve a second job, etc. It might be hard and unfair. BUT If you could get things resolved by the end of the summer, you’d have plenty of time for applications.

    Just please do decide on what you really want and grin and bear the unfairness of the bureaucrats.

    There are more extreme things you could try, given that 50% of a month’s rent is not astronomical. Get a paypal account and send out requests for help. (There are tons of variations on this, depending on how impervious you are to feelings of embarassment. Basically, it’s ‘net begging.)

  9. Hi
    Thanks JJ
    I have 3 jobs lined up for the summer but I have to pay for where I live and all those bills and people depend on me, I don’t have the luxury of being able to make money that doesn’t have to go for food & housing and heat for them. If I were lucky enough to have free places to live or not to have to make sure that others have necessities it would be easy but it isn’t. It just ridiculous to refuse a payment plan, they won’t accept any money that doesn’t meet their standards. I’ve been through every channel there is at this institution and this is what they came up with.

  10. VL. I notice you say you are not getting cohesive support from the feminist community, but you might find more support if you give people a way to help easily. If you get a paypal account, do write me at jj.second{at}gmail.com for a (small)donation.

  11. JJ
    THanks again.
    The piece of my situation having to do with women in philosophy is that some issues are taken up by almost all the women, as when it comes to tenure or not giving an honorary degree to someone. In these cases there are petitions and facebook pages and whatnot all over. On the other hand I have seen other situations perhaps closer to mine where noone or almost noone is willing to do anything. My case just seems as if it is paradigmatic of the types of voices that (generally) get ignored by most and then finally silenced within the profession altogether.
    I wil try to figure out the paypal thing.

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