Dr. Pannapacker has rebuked graduate schools for perpetuating a culture in which unattainable academic careers are portrayed as the only worthwhile goal, and for failing to level with students about their true prospects. With more transparency — if every graduate program published its attrition rate, average debt of its students, time to completion, and what kind of job its graduates got — undergraduates, he says, could make more-informed choices.
“Academe encourages students to think of what they’re doing as a special kind of calling or vocation which is exempt from the rules of the marketplace,” he says. Those who look to work outside the scholarly world are seen as rejecting the academy’s core values. “They socialize students into believing they can’t leave academe or shouldn’t, which is why they hang on year after year as adjuncts, rather than pursue alternative careers.”
NOTE: I do want to add - these are my opinions and I am talking about my experiences within the U.S. I am not attempting to be comprehensive but really to work through how I am understanding my journey in higher education. What I have learned in my time in the academy has been very valuable and I would not change it, but most of it was actually learned outside of the classroom and in my navigation of the politics and discrimination (based on class, race, and gender) inherent within the process. The world "outside the academy" is not going to magically be better but it is a sector that I wish to explore and where I want to utilize my skills - that's all. Having the article in the New York Times speak to issues that are talked about in lounges, coffee shops, and during breaks in class or at conferences is comforting as it lets me know that I am not crazy for thinking the way I do. Work is work and to get anywhere in life there needs to be work done, but I want the work I do to mean something to me and not just be another checkbox on my CV. Having seen a professor have a heart attack over the stress of the job, another be pushed out as chair because others in the department didn't like the "new guys" politics, and having been told to me face that I will never amount to anything in the academy I choose to leave it behind for a while when I am done. I may come back, but for my own sanity and growth the separation between myself and the institution of higher education is one that needs to be done.