Monday, August 7, 2017

97. It steals your future.

Billionaire Warren Buffet attributes his wealth to “a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest.” With savings and time, anyone can benefit from compound interest. Its effects are extraordinary. As investor JL Collins explains, “you’ll wind up rich” and “not just in money” if you simply spend less than you earn, invest the surplus, and avoid debt. Of course, money that you save when you are young has more time to grow than money that you save later. That is why it is so important to start saving money as soon as possible. You may not be thinking about saving for retirement right now, but you should be, because retirement pensions have largely disappeared. You will probably depend on your savings someday. Life is expensive. Unfortunately, graduate students are much more likely to go into debt than to save money. This brings us back to Reason 1.

There is an adage: “He who understands compound interest will earn it; he who does not will pay it.” If you borrow money in the form of a student loan, you are obligated to pay back every penny that you borrowed plus interest. If you manage to stay out of debt, in graduate school you are still not earning a proper salary at a time in your life when saving money could do you tremendous good. Worse, you are entering a profession for which there is a long period of apprenticeship (see Reason 4), in which jobs are scarce (see Reason 8), and in which highly trained people do extremely low-paying work (see Reason 14). Your wise friends outside of academe will have built up a nest egg before your academic career has even started (see Reason 63). There is a perception that graduate school leads to a better life, but working, saving, and building wealth while you are young is a much more reliable route to success. Just remember to spend less than you earn.



38 comments:

  1. God Emperor Trump will fix the economy and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!

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    1. He's already created a huge boom. Yet I doubt even he can save graduate education. Not that he would even want to, though.

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    2. If anything, he should do more to destroy it. We can cut back on state and federal spending and help kids avoid mortgaging their lives. Of course, the leaders in the field can't keep their gravy train if they aren't convincing 18 year old kids to major in utterly useless humanities courses, so that they can spend their 20's in even more useless PhD programs with the carrot of being an "intellectual" hanging at the end of it all.

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  2. Excellent post, 100 Reasons. Indeed, most grad students are not thinking about their future, or retirement, at all. If they do think about it, it’s in vague terms - “I want to be a professor” - with no idea of how rare, difficult, and long the road to obtaining a tenure-track position can be.

    Just go to a 20-year high school reunion. Those who went to grad school are often still trying to find a stable job, living frugally to get by, and moving to the sad places where the jobs tend to be. Those who began working right after high school or college have moved up in their company, have had several children, own their own houses in nice places, and have up to 20 more years of income saved or invested than the ones who went the grad school route. This is not the type of thing young 20-somethings think about when entering grad school. Sadly, by the time they realize how much they could have accumulated over the last couple of decades of compound interest, they cannot make up for lost time.

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    1. "most grad students are not thinking about their future, or retirement, at all"

      Guilty. At 22 I didn't care about that stuff. However, I knew that I probably would care one day, so I made a pact with myself to just get an MA to start off with, and do to it fully funded so that at least my financial cost was low. I left academia after my MA, got married, started working and then had a family. Having no loans made this doable. I still kick myself sometimes about the opportunity cost, but it was pretty low in terms of loss to my lifetime earnings.

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    2. That's an excellent summary of the situation, AnonymousAugust 7, 2017 at 6:47 PM. People are sold on following their passion and doing something that makes the world better (noble, indeed), but those who did trade jobs or something that requires college but not a Ph.D., like an accountant, are living good lives at the 20-year reunion. It's a sad and frustrating situation for those of us that pursued advanced degrees.

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  3. Once again, absolutely correct and irrefutable.

    Enrolling in school is not the equivalent of working. From a financial standpoint, it can actually be worse than short-term or even medium-term unemployment. Leaving aside the percentage of graduate students -- and it is not inconsiderable -- who truly are work-averse and remain enrolled in grad school in a deluded attempt to save face with their families and friends, it's fair to say that most of us want to become contributing, productive members of society as rapidly as possible. That means employment.

    Again, leaving aside the long-term unemployed or work-averse, for most of us any stretch of complete unemployment lasting more than a year or two is already considered quite long. And by graduate students' standards, that's barely an overture. A graduate student can expect to be unemployed (or severely underemployed -- as practical matter it makes little difference) for a period lasting five years or more. That's five years' opportunity cost with no income at all.

    But wait! There's more!

    A five-year stretch of unemployment is bad enough, right? But during this time, the graduate student actually has recurring, unavoidable expenses -- tuition, books, travel -- that would put pressure even on an employed person.

    Hence, at the end of the day, the graduate student, with his or her worthless degree in hand, arteries hardened by bad food, and failing eyesight, is in a far worse position financially and even professionally than someone who decided to merely check out of the workforce for a few years and sit in front of the television or internet doing nothing.

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  4. The above comments have it right. The sad thing is, if you're Asian or Indian (or another ethnic that highly desires education) descent and have parents who complain about the old days and how tough it was back in their home country, they'll force education onto you and they will be ashamed if you DON'T pursue higher education. It's REALLY sad watching friends who are from these kinds of families who are being forced to do more education or end up getting disowned. Smarter friends end up joining the military and just leave their parents and siblings behind - though, that's not the life for everybody.

    It sounds silly at first, but if anyone is confused at how higher education is bad, I'll explain. I had many friends who dropped out of college, and even friends who dropped out of high school and just worked at a fast food restaurant. Now they're bigger managers or work at corporate offices, have good experience, skills and amazing benefits. Myself, I did chemical engineering at Waterloo, 3.9/4.0 GPA and 5 internships, but still struggling to find work. Yes, the oil and gas price crash made employment in Canada as a chemical engineer extremely difficult, but the point I want to draw is that professors there pretty much stopped taking applicants for domestic master's due to such astronomical demand. When jobs in a field are difficult to find, you find people begging for chances to do master's. Even if you do it for free thanks to scholarships, it's still lost opportunity money and you'll have less experience. BUT, want to hear something weird? I said the professors don't take domestic master's students due to there not being good scholarships available for people who are non-international students here.

    They love my resume, GPA, etc, and I've been invited to countless dinners with professors, yet somehow when I want to get the paperwork to sign to begin my master's, suddenly they say, "Not enough funding! I need 20k a year!" Yep, there's so many applicants that many of the profs would rather just have students self-fund their projects. It's REALLY scammy out there. People were telling me that they were soft rejections, but there were actually many students, a lot of them being the child of immigrants to Canada, actually self-funding their master's/PhD with the parents help because the parents somehow think that a master's/PhD would help their child get a job. Now I know why so many professors are treating me out to extravagant dinners....

    But anyways, many countries, like Canada, are mostly service-industries now. Nobody wants to do research. Hell, there are even company-sponsored funding for master's students, BUT you don't want to take those either! Many students go into a master's funded by a company, sign away all of the patents and such, thinking that they'll get hired by the company funding them. This is not the case. The company generally just wants to get cheap labour from the university, and my friend was pushed into working 60-80 hour weeks, and though his stipend was okay at a first glance, when you actually paid for tuition and used books, he'd be making less than minimum wage!

    Anyways, my point is don't be stupid and do a master's. I was talking about engineering, which is normally considered a poor field to do master's in, but I can guarantee you that these trends explained earlier will happen in other fields. Seriously, don't do it. Focus on making connections and such instead. I did chemical engineering and a master's and have 3 years of work experience from university research projects and a few companies that are now closed down. All my offers are from big, big pharmaceutical companies wanting a laboratory technician, which really only requires a high school diploma. Employers are in an age of choosiness.

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    1. Regarding one of your first points, in many cultures getting an education was a key to financial success. Unfortunately, not all degrees are the same. Many Americans don't understand this scenario either and have an elitist attitude of "well, education shouldn't be about getting a job, it's about gainings skills and learning how to think". Gee, sounds nice if paying rent isn't an issue...

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  5. Always great to read another 100Reasons post! I have been lurking on this blog for the past seven years or so, but as a financial adviser, this post really resonated with me.

    Similar to most of the audience of this blog, I come from a humanities background (East Asian Languages, to be specific). In 2014, I finished my undergraduate degree with a 3.9 GPA and was accepted into my department's post graduate program. I wish I could say that a spark of prescience served as the catalyst for my departure from graduate school, but the truth is that I grossly overestimated my academic abilities.

    With a couple thousand dollars in debt from my first semester of graduate school and nothing to show for it, I decided to apply to a financial services firm to work as an associate. They paid for my licenses (I had to take the series 7 three times) and I worked on the phones as a retail stock broker doing grunt work for two years.

    Fast forward to today, and I am a successful financial adviser. I am even beating advisers that come from business backgrounds. Not trying to brag, but my point is that humanities and liberal arts graduates have a distinct advantage when dealing with clients. As someone who studied different cultures and languages (Anon @ 3PM, Aug. 11 is spot on about Asian culture and education, by the way), I have a broader perspective and better ability to communicate than many of my business school counterparts.

    I'm not the only humanities major in finance, either. One of my colleagues and good friends is an English major from a state school. He is an even more successful financial adviser than me and is in his late 30's.

    Therefore, I urge my fellow humanities/liberal arts grads to not give up. It might be too competitive to get a (low-paying) job in academia, but there are lots of other things you can do to make a decent living, regardless of how long you have been on the academic hamster wheel.

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    1. >>there are lots of other things you can do to make a decent living, regardless of how long you have been on the academic hamster wheel.

      This should be point #98. You Have More Options Than You Think You Do. I was dead set on leaving after my MA despite being asked to stay, and even then, I was terrified about trying to find work. It was 2009 so the market was in the toilet. I wasn't getting call backs, interviews, nothing. I almost submitted that PhD application. I was convinced I had no skills, no future, nothing. And I WANTED to leave academia. I was DONE.

      Long story short is that I eventually got a job and built up a career from there. If I could start a great career with a Humanities MA right after the country imploded, anyone can. I got certifications through work, and now I'm even back in graduate school for a professional degree - this time it's great, because I get to study fun stuff part time while keeping my job, and my employer is paying for 100% of it. Man I should have done it this way the first time.

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    2. You mean a "succesful financial advisor" like the ones who were unable to forecast the housing bubble in 2007 and dragged millions to loss mitigation and foreclosure?

      I am curious about one thing. You call yourself a "succesful financial advisor" and you encourage people to undergo 4 years of study and 100K in debt for a worthless degree arguing that they will fail to get a job but at the same time they will be able to get a crappy job with low pay that pays for the debt generated by the worthless degree acquisition?

      May I have your name, so that I will NEVER hire you?

      PS: I deleted my original post due to a typo.

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    3. ...That isn't even close to what I actually said. My post was aimed at people who already had their "useless" degrees and felt like they could never get a good job. I wasn't implying that you should study something without good prospects.

      Clearly you have a very superficial knowledge of the financial crisis. For one, yes, there were advisors out their who figured out what was going on and were able to properly guide their clients. For another, the blame for the crisis does not rest solely on the financial industry. It rests on the following (in no specific order):

      1) The credit ratings agencies, who misled the public about the creditworthiness of various institutions, such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide, and AIG.

      2) The large investment banks, who took the bad loans doled out by the above companies, packaged them into securities, then resold them to large institutional investors while skimming off hefty commissions.

      3) The financial institutions (such as Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Countrywide, etc.) who underwrote bad loans to people they knew would never pay them off. They then resold these loans to the above investments banks for nice commissions.

      4) The American public, who was sold on the idea that it is their birthright to take out a mortgage to own a home valued at more than 6x their gross annual income. This said public also thinks it's their right to take expensive vacations, buy nice cars, and get their hair done every single week on credit. You might laugh at this statement and I realize I'm generalizing here, but I talk to enough people every day who blindly spend money to assert that this attitude towards spending is still prevalent and was a major cause of the crisis.

      5) The American educational system, perhaps due to the influence of large corporations, which has failed to properly educate people about money.

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    4. There is nothing to learn about finance other than two things:
      1) earn 2, spend 1.
      2) develop the virtues of moderation and austerity so that rule 1) is a piece of cake to follow.

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    5. If you're okay with living without a family to take care of in a shoddy apartment for the rest of your life, smug in your virtues of austerity and moderation, then by all means, that's all you need to know about finance.

      However, for the vast majority of us who strive for some semblance of a decent life where we can buy a house without spending decades saving to pay cash, have a family, and make sure that said family is taken care of whether or not we're here to provide for them, it behooves us to learn more about the tools at our disposal to manage and grow our resources.

      Saying there is nothing to learn about finance aside from earning two and spending one and developing moderation and austerity is like saying there is nothing to learn about math except for arithmetic and the discipline to practice it every day and night. It discounts other practical areas of math like the principles of algebra and statistics.

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  6. Warren Buffet's argument is so fallacious that its smell can be perceived from light years away.

    Compound interest does not to anything. If all those who make a salary placed a fraction of their salary in the bank to give compound interest, the interest rate would drop to 0, simply due to an excessive offer of money lenders to the bank. A banker has 1 lender, he needs to offer a fairly attractive interest. The same banker has 10 thousand lenders, he can choose, hence he can offer a low interest rate.

    Money doesn't breed money. Work breeds money.

    The problem with grad schools is that due to all the 96 reasons depicted up to date (and other that are too long and specific to ellaborate), grad school is inefficient work and in many cases useless (even in the STEM fields there is a massive proliferation of useless PhD theses).

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    1. One reason that there are so many useless Ph. D. theses in engineering is that many of the research topics were also useless. The only thing that matters in academe is whether what one is investigating can be funded

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  7. Great reason to avoid grad school.

    You spend so much time in grad school being overworked and underpaid that you can't afford to plan for the future (unless you come from a wealthy family). There's also a huge chance that after graduation, you will join the adjunct workforce, which continues to steal your future.

    The Ivory Tower has effectively brainwashed people into thinking that it's the academe or bust, that there's no career prospects outside of its walls. It astonishes me that year after year, idealistic students think that they are an exception to the rule, that they can somehow overcome the adjunctification of the academe. "The life of the mind" is not worth starving for.

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    1. I used to think that success in academe depended on hard work and talent. It's nothing of the sort.

      Instead, it's completely political. One can have impressive qualifications but if, say, a grad student's supervisor doesn't like that person, any chances for an academic career are nearly zero.

      Without that support, one should plan on doing something else. Academe is little more than a root-bound closed shop and entry is by invitation only.

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    2. Even if one does complete one's graduate degree, the alternatives to academe can often be disappointing.

      Most of the jobs I had in industry didn't need more than a B. Sc. In fact, most of what I worked on didn't even require that much education. Unlike Einstein, unfortunately, I didn't have enough idle time during the day to ponder earth-shaking ideas.

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    3. The Ivory Tower is more concerned about who it can keep out than about who is qualified to enter. The easiest way to join that club is to be chummy with someone on the inside.

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    4. @Anonymous September 29, 2017 at 5:51 AM

      The problem with PhD programs is that they prepare people for a very specific kind of job (tenure track positions at Ivy League or R1 institutions) and those jobs are few and far between. This article effectively sums up the issue: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2015/02/university_hiring_if_you_didn_t_get_your_ph_d_at_an_elite_university_good.html

      This is why it is incredibly irresponsible that lower ranked PhD programs with terrible job placement rates continue to accept applicants. They know damn well that these students have no chance in hell of getting a tenure track position. Basically, they are training their students to become contingent employees who won't have any job security, benefits, or money. A permanent underclass.

      You're absolutely right - most industry jobs do not require a PhD. My friend who manages a think tank actually said that he stopped hiring PhDs because of their sense of entitlement. Despite the fact that a PhD does not prepare one for a job at his company, applicants with PhDs would demand more money even though they did not have any industry experience. It is a huge misconception that a PhD prepares one for industry jobs.

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    5. While I was finishing my first graduate degree, I started working for a certain company. One reason I actually applied there was because that I could have made use of what I'd learned as a grad student.

      Did I? Of course not. The company was looking for cheap labour and made sure that I worked on the stuff that nobody else wanted to touch.

      If it had been my first job, I might not have minded so much, but I had already spent 2 years in industry and I was registered. The type of things I ended up working on were more appropriate to a rookie with a brand-new B. Sc., not someone with experience and close to finishing a master's degree.

      For some reason, my division supervisor couldn't figure out why I might have been dissatisfied. Apparently my being told one thing and then getting something else didn't qualify.

      I was eventually fired. Maybe they thought I didn't appreciate the "privilege" of working there.

      However, looking back over the years, that outfit was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made.

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    6. If a person attends grad school for a PhD or DBA and thinks that they will get a tenured job in academia, they have their priorities all wrong. There are just simply not enough of those types of positions available, and they are likely going to go to the graduates from the top-tier schools. I would recommend that instead of thinking of a graduate degree as the objective, think of it more as an accessory to an actual career. After earning a bachelor’s degree, people need to focus on their careers, get employable skills, and develop them over time. Getting a masters or a doctorate should be useful to someone to enhance their career prospects (for example, if a person is in social work, they should definitely pursue a masters, at a minimum), but should not be used to define it. Also realize that when you are working full time, some employers may help with paying the tuition, so that is a bonus to take advantage of. By focusing on a career, people can end up with money to pay the bills, food on the table, cars, clothes, savings, a 401k plan, health insurance, and have a roof over their head. It is the people who think that the graduate stipend is adequate that rely on Ramen noodles, are homeless, take out loans that overburden their future, or are forced to work as a sex worker to make ends meet to supplement their insufficient income.

      From my personal experience, I have worked ever since I graduated from high school. I earned my B.A. when I was 22, completed my MBA at 40, and have spent the last five years working on a doctorate that I should be finishing up in the summer of 2018—just after I turn 50. Although I enjoy learning immensely (to be honest, I do feel burnt out at times), I have embraced a normal career and have never deluded myself at any time by thinking that I would live my life in the Ivory Tower. It would be nice, but… the reality is that most people will work at a regular career like every other man or woman to get through life. Taken from this perspective, I encourage people to work on advanced degrees and better themselves so that they can make contributions to society or achieve self-actualization, but always realize where an advanced degree really fits into the scheme of normal life.

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    7. That's all fine and good, but most employers don't see it that way. I remember being turned down for a position simply because I had a master's degree. I, apparently, would have been, as the rejection letter put it, "bored" there.

      Several years later, after I had finished my studies, I had a similar problem but, by then, I had added another master's and a Ph. D. to my collection of degrees. No matter what I said, I couldn't convince the chap I met with that the skills and techniques I had acquired as a grad student would be useful to his firm. He was more afraid that I might have the audacity to pack up and leave when I chose to. (Never mind that he could have fired me whenever it suited him. Never mind that most employees have freedom of mobility. Indentured servitude was abolished generations ago.)

      Most employers that I've worked for wanted workers who little more than drones, moderately intelligent, marginally adept, docile and submissive with little imagination of their own. Actual skill and ability could prove to be detrimental to one's career prospects.

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  8. Anonymous 9/14 7:05 has summed the whole thing up brilliantly: "The life of the mind is not worth starving for."

    It isn't just material things, either. You can also end up starved for romantic relationships, children, long-term friends, geographic stability, professional satisfaction, proximity to family, and long-term plans of any kind. Take it from someone who's been there—mainly by following a spouse through it.

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    1. I concur.

      While I was a grad student, I was almost entirely focused on my work. I didn't have much time for a social life and, even if I did, there was little chance for long-term relationships. Most women I went out with wanted stability and financial security, and being a grad student certainly didn't provide that.

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  9. Reason #98. Homelessness

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/28/adjunct-professors-homeless-sex-work-academia-poverty

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  10. Here's another way grad studies can steal your future.

    Imagine spending most of your allowed time on your degree only to find out that your supervisor admits that he was never interested in your thesis project in the first place. That happened to me.

    My first thesis project was taken out from under me after I'd spent a year on it. The committee that my supervisor had cobbled together cancelled it in the first meeting we had. (One of the members behaved in a rather childish manner, leading me to believe that the whole thing had been planned.)

    I spent the next 3 years getting little accomplished, partly because my supervisor conducted himself in a lacklustre manner. I started my residency with 2 years left when he admitted that he never liked what I was working on. (Gee, thanks.)

    In response, I rolled up my sleeves and kicked him out of the way, so to speak, as he had shown himself to be next to useless. I had to push him to set up my candidacy exam as well as my thesis defence.

    I finally got my degree, but I couldn't get a job with it after that. It wouldn't surprise me if any companies or universities I applied to contacted him about me, even though I didn't want to use him as a reference.

    In the meantime, he was busy "mentoring" his favourite grad student because he was "concerned" about her prospects. In reality, there were indications that their relationship was less than arm's length, if you get my meaning. She now has tenure at a university elsewhere in the country.

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    1. Your story sounds like where mine was headed before I switched advisors. In the process of switching it finally came out that not only did my former advisor not really care for my project, they insisted that I didn't know anything about the region. It's amazing what some of these people can concoct when they want to make someone look bad. I wish I could get into specifics but I think that people in this program hate it so much that they probably come on here.

      Now that I'm officially on year four I couldn't tell you what keeps me here. At a certain point when you're damn near broke and you don't have a lot of support, you find yourself banking on non-monetary prestige, like strangers who think what your doing is "cool." The problem is, we all kind of know that this prestige is empty and fruitless. Yet, here I am still trying to claw my way through this degree for really no other reason at this point than to finish.

      I've said it before and I'll say it again: Academia is really for people who can play Russian roulette with money. I can't speak for all fields, but for what I do in the social sciences and humanities, it's certainly held true in my experience. I never expected to be in my late 20s looking to my parents for the occasional bail out because my stipend is $20K plus possible summer work. Independent wealth would be a great asset to have in grad school, though most of the insanely wealthy people I know never went for a PhD. That should tell you something. As 100 reasons has said in previous posts, "The smart people are somewhere else."

      I wish my undergrad self (who had many mentors encouraging me to continue on to grad school) had truly understood just how much I was going to have to put off to do this degree. I really could not have foreseen how this was going to be until I was knee deep into the experience. I wish I knew that a combination of being broke and demoralized would bring me to this weird state of inertia where things don't really get better or worse, they just start to stay the same. As this blog illustrates, there really isn't one factor that brings you to feel disillusioned by grad school. Finances are indeed a problem, but they certainly one of, well, 100+ problems. :P

      Lately I've started to identify a profound sadness and anger in many professors eyes that I hadn't ever recognized before. I think that's really what scares me the most...the folks who seemingly got "that job" and "that paycheck" appear almost universally sad and defeated. I can't speak for other people's experiences, but this is what I have encountered.

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    2. I don't think it's so much sadness and defeat they feel but more like the title of that old Peggy Lee song from some 50 years ago: "Is that all there is?"

      They got their dream job, for which many professors get paid quite well. (I know of one university where salaries can run into the low 6 figures. Nice work if one can get it.) They have tenure, which, for many, is the golden hog trough.

      What they don't have is freedom. They can't simply walk away from their faculty positions, regardless of how lousy those might be, without paying a price. Aside from losing their salaries, they lose their benefits and privileges. They may also lose social status as being a professor still carries a certain esteem.

      In the private sector, one may not have as much security but there is often much more flexibility not only with regards to what one might be able to work on but also how much money one can make. In addition, the working conditions are often much better--less bureaucracy, for example.

      There's a reason why many academics go into business for themselves.

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  11. For anyone needing further convincing about grad school, there's this:

    http://neatoday.org/2017/11/01/homeless-professor/

    and this:
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/28/adjunct-professors-homeless-sex-work-academia-poverty

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  12. Another possibility for Reason 98: Academia takes political correctness to an absurd level.

    A teaching assistant at a Canadian university faced significant backlash after she presented an excerpt from a televised debate featuring a well-known academic who refuses to use gender-neutral pronouns. She played the clip in a communications seminar, intending to provide some background on the issues of language and gender. When students complained, she was severely chastised by her professors. She subsequently went public with an audio recording of the reprimand, forcing the university to issue an “apology.”

    https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/laurier-apologizes-to-t-a-who-aired-debate-clip-on-gender-neutral-pronouns-1.3687914

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  13. Your future can be lost due to financial issues created by grad school, but even if you are in a relatively good position, grad school can still destroy your future in other ways.

    The abuse can leave a mark on you. It's been almost two years since I completed my dissertation and graduated. Yet I am still struggling with anger and depression related to abuse at grad school.
    What really sucks is that I don't understand it; it would be one thing if I were a typical "snowflake" but that's not the case in my instance. I'm a veteran who has endured some very severe, life of death trials. Yet somehow grad school broke me down. It wrecked my confidence and totally made me more fearful than I was in moments of risking life and limb. There's something insidious about it that worms its way into your psyche. You can supposedly be a tough guy, but years of abuse, in which you have zero ability to retaliate or even defend yourself, will make it hard to recover.
    I'm recovering, but it has taken active effort on my part, as well as the prayers and patience of friends and family.

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    1. I fully agree that even if you are determined and lucky enough to finish your doctorate, there will be lasting effects. I'm no snowflake either, but after finishing, it took me four years to feel somewhat normal again (and I was fortunate to have a loving, supportive spouse, and a job to go back to).

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  14. STEM PhD here. Can't agree more. Professors and Grad Schools don't give a damn about your future. They want young and fresh energy to move their career forward with the lowest amount of money. They tell you that 'you are making the world a better place! you are curing cancer' but NO you're not! these are cover stories for your miserable life. Most of them support more immigration! No wonder! they love cheap labor. If you don't get a job after PhD, they try to be nice to you and offer you Post-Doc! and another post-doc and another post-doc... Now you are 40 years old, and have ZERO money saved up. Grad school is a scam, don't do it. -STEM PhD

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    1. An even bigger joke is what my alma mater said about grad students, namely that their supervisors are to be regarded as "partners in research".

      Baloney! Most of my supervisors saw me as cheap labour to be exploited. My Ph. D. supervisor wasn't all that interested in my research and tried to scuttle it, hoping that I would be so desperate that I'd start over again on his pet project.

      I might have had an easier time if he hadn't spent so much time with his favourite grad student, who, I'm sure, he was having an affair with. She now has a tenured position at a university at the other side of the country. (Coincidence?) He, on the other hand, retired a number of years ago or, shall I say, he made it official as, considering how he handled my thesis work, he retired on the job.

      Fortunately, I had money of my own after it was all over, so I quit my teaching job at a tech college and lived off that while I worked on my research. Now that I've inherited my father's estate, I won't have to worry about funding ever again.

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  15. I would like to thank WynnLloyd for the spot on comments. I managed to get through an Australian PHD early this year. Unfortunately eight years of criticism, duplicitous supervision and nasty nasty politicking took its toll and I'm in a position where the joy I should be feeling for adding to a body of knowledge is simply not there. Instead there are only irrational feelings of negativity and failure and constantly questioning of why get involved in academia at all. WynnLloyd's post is helpful to people like me as I realize I am not unique in taking a physiological hit in these undertakings. I read many PHD blogs and stories as part of my " PHD recovery therapy" and there are far to many people genuinely affected by the journey they have been on. Like WynnLloyd I have a job and good finances (and supportive family) - so I am not painting a picture of hardship or suchlike - and don't want to come across as a whinger. However, research and academia should not be about survival of the fittest where any thing goes - and if you don't like the heat get out of the kitchen. Maybe I'm unrealistic - but to many people are getting seriously hurt in this regime.Thanks WynnLloyd - sharing such experiences helps me contextualize what I am going through and I hope I can get better of days, months and years like yourself.

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