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'that' grad student

First and foremost, THANK YOU for giving time and space to this question. I think the more attention we can bring to this question, the better it will be for grad students, especially for those going on the market soon (such as myself).

One minor quibble I have is with the thought that, with a quick vaccine, the job market will get back into shape rather quickly. My guess is that *most* graduate students will try to wait out the collapsed market (myself included). This means that when colleges and universities and colleges start hiring at their pre-COVID numbers, there will be three to four times more qualified candidates than there were pre-COVID. In response to this uniquely challenging market, grad students may again be tempted to wait it out. However, the more people who actually do, the longer it will take for the market to go back to pre-COVID levels.

That said, I do think things will eventually get back to the earlier normal. In the meantime, though, graduate students will be in a unique sort of conundrum. This will be especially true for those graduate students are least able to simply wait until (whenever) things calm back down (non-traditional students, students with less funding, etc).

This is why I'm particularly interested in this topic. The OP's approach of maximizing research time is interesting, perhaps for personal enjoyment more than marketability. I'm also interested in the possibility of modifying one's research agenda as to be more palatable to think tanks and other non-profits.

Anyway, I will be thinking about this topic for a while, so mostly THANKS for giving it attention!

Defense on the horizon

Thanks so much, Marcus, for sharing your thoughts to my inquiry and opening up the discussion! I really appreciate it.

As for factors 2 and 3 in my own case: I would have to answer no to both. Given my personal life and financial constraints, 2 is not really an option. And, regarding 3, I have to admit that I have yet to fall in love with teaching. It could be due to lack of experience, but I don't think that possibility is live enough to stick around long enough to find out.

As for factor 1, I think there's more reason to be pessimistic than you allow. (We're talking about this a bit over on Helen's post.) I think a vaccine will not allow the job market to recover to anything like previous levels, except, maybe, perhaps, in the very short term. I think longer-term trends are all bad. Here's an article (not by me) that articulates a lot of my worry:


I've also discussed this with another person who I trust knows what they're talking about, and they broadly endorsed this article.

assistant prof

I would question the assumption that community colleges are faring better right now. The data I was able to find shows that they are actually doing far worse than 4-year colleges -- a 22.7% drop compared to a 16.1% drop nationally for incoming freshmen, and a decrease of 9.4% overall compared to a 4% drop nationally.


Marcus Arvan

grad student: You're very welcome! Feel free to let me know if there are other issues you'd like to see discussed. You can always comment or email me any ideas, and I'd be happy to run threads discussing them.

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