roasting marshmellows in phd hell

Reason #20293 Why Graduate School is Not Worth It

with 5 comments


Juno is your caseworker. And your academic adviser.

Because for all your blood, sweat, and tears, this is your reward.

Teaching at some 94th tier for-profit hell’s waiting room ‘school’ which, for greedymoneyreasons only, has been accredited by Lord Chancellor Jesus or Magic Mike or whoever is making decisions these days.

Allow this humble theater troupe to perform several brief vignettes for your viewing pleasure.

Vignette 1: “A Curious Inquiry”

scene: cramped office.  nothing visible but filing cabinets and dog eared instructor copies of textbooks nobody ever ordered.  a distinguished looking man with a beard, phd, and brain that would make harold bloom weep converses with a student who has been caught plagiarizing on a number of occasions.

Student: (earnestly)  So let me ask you, Dr.——— (very Jane Austen, amirite?), what does it feel like when you’re teaching, to know that nobody in class is paying attention?

Dr. ———: ……………………..

Student:  But we all seem to be doing pretty good on the tests, so you must be doing something right!

Dr.———-: (manical laughter) Yeah I guess.

Me: (hides behind computer monitor, turns an attractive shade of purple from the effort of holding back rage/laughter)


I guess SupaPlagiarist wasn’t taking into account how easy those tests must have been for people who don’t pay attention to pass.

Here’s another harrowing tale…. and I’ve had enough of theater for one day so I’ll just tell you how it played out.

My students were given a very brief reading assignment.  Of course, not one person did it.  I asked them point blank and they were honest.  So I told the fuckers that when they show up completely unprepared to work, there was no point in being there since I couldn’t do my lesson plan, and told em they were all going to be marked absent and they should go home.

At this point one particular gem of a human being started shouting that I had no right to do that, they pay a lot of money to be there, and if they want to sit there and do nothing, that’s their right.

Now this person is completely right in that education costs a metric fuckton of money.  And I certainly don’t think that’s right.  But you’d think this would make someone more motivated to do actual work, when instead it leads many of them to believe that they are buying a degree, not earning one.

But you know what?


Michelle will teach you how to look good while doing karate on angry students.

The next class, I’d say 70% of em had done the reading.

Instead of feeling victorious though, I almost feel more defeated.  I don’t want to be Michelle fucking Pfeiffer in ‘Dangerous Minds.’  Or Hillary Swank in “freedom writing diaries.”  or Ryan Gosling in that movie where he sells crack to his students parents.

This will not end.  And come next semester, I’ll have to wage war with a fresh set of faces, with my goal being to force at least half of em to do the reading?

This is the fate for MOST doing a phd with the goal of being a “professor.”

I used to get chills when they called me that.

Now I want to bang my head against the wall because it’s a fucking meaningless word.  Whatever prestige or’ Goodbye Mr. Chips feelings’ I had associated with it is certainly not the reality.  It’s an empty title, just like phd is going to be when/if I finally ever finish.

It’s just another way for your advisers to con you into thinking all this shit is worth it.

5 Responses

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  1. Wonderful post! Another post-ac (or almost post) blogger saying what we all know but has not yet been said (till now). I teach community college in the ghetto and it’s like the fucking 13th grade. Worst Professor Ever defined it as “teaching feral children” who have grown up feral and are now adults who have bottomless needs. We do have a right to take care of ourselves. While I applied to a PhD about 7 years ago (got waitlisted and then bumped because someone else accepted) and have a masters plus assorted other graduate coursework (almost the same amount for PhD coursework) I NEVER did the work you guys have done. The diss, the whole shebang.

    On one hand, I’m sad for you. To do all of that hard work and be faced with the reality must absolutely blow like no other. On the other hand, I am impressed with your bravery and I have great hope for your future. I’m just starting to find my own walking shoes by admitting the situation is terrible, even at the CC. When I start to whine about having the masters plus other assorted graduate work, I remember a few things by reading these blogs: I escaped (deliberate word) the PhD route unscathed (minus app fee and app time spent), If others can do it – so can I, and its never too late. Seems to me these issues are universal across all college campuses.

    Preach it, U of L! The truth must be told!!


    December 9, 2012 at 17:08

    • Hey, thanks so much for the comment 🙂

      I feel your pain with the community college teaching… and I feel supa happy for you that you were bumped from that phd program..are you making plans for the future? do you have any good non ghetto teaching ideas?

      Right now I’m probably 85 percent ish done writing up my dissertation..but the teaching situation is making me lack motivation to put in the rest of the work. At this point I just need something to show for all the time, effort, money, and sanity wasted.

      Thanks again for reading and good luck with the rest of the semester…


      December 11, 2012 at 02:40

  2. “My students were given a very brief reading assignment. Of course, not one person did it. I asked them point blank and they were honest. So I told the fuckers that when they show up completely unprepared to work, there was no point in being there since I couldn’t do my lesson plan, and told em they were all going to be marked absent and they should go home.”

    Amen! My profs did this. I’ve done it. But this past term, I was informed that under absolutely no circumstances was I to ever do that again. It’s too radical, which I interpret as “effective,” as a teaching tactic. I am so glad I found your blog today!


    December 14, 2012 at 15:18

    • Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      That’s crazy, isn’t it… that tactic ain’t pretty, but it cuts through the bullshit and shows the students you’re serious as hell. And if you don’t have the authority to do that, what do you have? When nobody has done the freaking reading, what do you do with all the wasted time? I tried making them read out loud, but honestly that just felt like punishment for me. And then bam, an hour is gone and you haven’t done anything, and they have been shown that even when they’re unprepared, its ok cause we’re gonna hold your hand and you won’t be held accountable. sucks!!


      December 15, 2012 at 01:46

  3. […] I have written about before, luckily most of my colleagues are intelligent, kind, helpful people.  (And I am very aware that this probably […]

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