I want to preface this post by saying that on balance I enjoy my job more days than not, and that I feel very lucky to have the job I do. Indeed, I would add that I find my work very meaningful. I write on topics I care about, make arguments I believe in, often can't wait to get to the park in the morning to start writing, and feel lucky to be an educator in a world so desperately in need of it. All that being said, I think it is important to be honest--particularly to those who might consider going to grad school--what our lives as academics are actually like: the costs, risks, benefits, etc.
- The consistently horrific job-market, in which there are not nearly enough jobs for qualified PhDs.
- The significant probability of attrition from grad school. i.e. not finishing one's PhD even after 7-10 years.
- Recent findings on the mental health toll grad school takes on many students.
Long story short, we all know--and should presumably tell anyone interested in grad school in philosophy--that grad school carries immense risks indeed. But, are these the only risks? In my experience, not by a long shot. Another, less-discussed issue is the long-term toll that a career in academia can take on one's psyche, even for those who finish the degree, get permanent jobs, etc. I think these long-term tolls are worth discussing because, at least in my experience, many people [e.g. undergraduates, grad students, people outside of academia, etc.] seem to dramatically underestimate them.