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I certainly never expected I'd be teaching the student population I teach (90%+ international, ESL, in a non-degree-granting program at a former CC that's now a university). It's really hard, and it's hard in ways that were and are completely unexpected for me. And since I don't really teach beyond the 100-level (yet! There's still hope!), it's also less rewarding than I expected a similar teaching load to be. I'm good at finding and making my own rewards, but there's only so much you can do.

On the other hand, I enjoy research a whole lot more than I expected to when I was an early grad student, and I've been a lot more successful on that front than I thought possible when I was a grad student. And my research community (i.e. my subfield association) is just so. Amazing. I love the people, they're incredibly kind and warm and welcoming and wonderfully quirky, and their energy is infectious. I've known this about them for a long time now, but when I started out I certainly never thought I'd find an academic community anything like them. They're where I find most of my philosophical joy, and it's for them that I crank out the papers.

On the other other hand, the pay is worse than I expected, especially considering the COL.

Overseas Tenured

For me it's a mixed bag, but mostly good.

I find research very satisfying. I can finally work on what excites me, and I'm not constrained by what's fashionable or what the "cool kids" in this or that top program are supposed to be doing. And while I'm by no means famous, a few years out of grad school a significant number of people read my work at least within my narrow specialty. I'll admit that it's nice not to write exclusively for myself.

Teaching is alright too - I was never into philosophy because of that, but I teach good students, including at the graduate level, and I'm luckier with them than most of my colleagues. It could be even a bit better, and it could be a whole lot worse. No complaints here.

One thing I didn't appreciate when I entered grad school (though I think it also got worse) is the hyper-political environment that academia is. As someone who mostly just wants to stay out of the culture wars and do the kind of abstract philosophy that got me hooked in the first place, I find this sort of judgmental and activist environment increasingly inhospitable. And before the pandemic, every time I went to a major conference I felt like it got worse. To be frank, while I miss live conferences, the fact that I find them more and more unpleasant and less and less about actual philosophy makes me miss them much less now.

Robert A Gressis

I don't know how to rate the experience.

On the one hand, I think my philosophical education has indeed made me much better at formulating and evaluating arguments. (I should say: the part of my philosophical education that did that was NOT being an undergraduate or graduate student, but being a professor: having to explain things to undergraduates forced me to get much better at those things.)

On the other hand, my philosophical education has distanced me from what you might call everyday experience or "the average person". There are a lot of views I take seriously (e.g., that most people don't benefit from higher education, that it's probably not morally obligatory to vote, that it may be morally obligatory to give away most of your disposable income to charity, that it may be that most people are morally evil, etc.) that others not only don't take seriously, but find corrupt to take seriously. Also, I find that in general people find it extremely obnoxious if you ask them for their reasons for believing something controversial. They're not good at articulating them, and it feels to them like even asking the question comes across as a challenge.

Then there is the question of whether I wasted my life. I kind of think that maybe I should get out now, or have gotten out five years ago, to avoid having wasted my life. As I've written elsewhere, I don't think my philosophical writing makes much of a difference to anyone's life, nor do I think much of my teaching does either. I think my analytical skills could be useful for a different organization, but I think my advanced age makes it pretty much impossible to work for one.

So, overall, I think it was at best a mixed bag, at worst a mistake. But I could change my mind about that!

triple anon

I rate my own experience as entirely and wholly good.

The opportunity to earn a living doing philosophy has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. Previously I worked for over a decade as a house cleaner, for a number of years (with some overlap) as a bartender, and also an ESL teacher. I was/am also an amateur musician and documentary filmmaker with some modest success. Engaging with philosophy for a living has brought me fulfillment and meaning that I simply couldn't find elsewhere.

I don't have tenure and might never (currently being full-time, annually renewing instructional faculty at a good R1), but even if my career ended tomorrow I would not change a thing and would be extremely grateful to have spent some of the best years of my life studying, teaching, and writing about philosophy.

Alan White

After teaching 40 years beginning in grad school at UT-Knoxville and then in the 2-year transfer University of Wisconsin System with a 4/4 load and now retired, my answer to the question is a resounding no--but not in the sense one might expect. My expectations were that I'd love the classroom but research even more--but the reverse came to be clearly the case for me. Yes I published and a respectable bit given my load. But the classroom and the thousands of students enriched my life more than I could ever have expected. Now, something else unexpected has happened--my retirement is much more comfortable than I could have imagined back then. But my retirement has also revealed that my love for what I was doing--and I cannot imagine having a more fulfilling career--concealed a high stress level that I simply couldn't appreciate while doing it. It made me doubt the whole concept of "good stress"--devotion to a career is a heavy load even if you love it. And as I've said publicly in many venues--a great deal of my good fortune was just that--the result of terrific luck that broke my way. I was just one interview away from quitting philosophy and becoming a nurse--but here I am. My heart really and especially breaks for those in my shoes coming out of non-Leiterific grad schools now--I could never have expected that the profession would have such a double-whammy downturn from political and pandemic forces. But me--no, my expectations weren't met--they were exceeded wildly.

Fritz Allhoff

It's been awesome. As I've gotten older, maybe, the *philosophy* part is something I think less about, as against the more general privilege of being a faculty member at a university. There's all sorts of challenges, but I love the environment, the colleagues, the graduate students, (some of) the undergraduate students, the opportunity to travel, the flexible schedule, the reasonable teaching load (another privilege of which is having that offset by TAs), and really everything else.

We had a child during the pandemic this year, too, and I just can't imagine that any other career would have been more flexible or humane in that regard, too. Universities aren't perfect, but I'm really happy with how this all worked out. Great opportunities for families, too, including kids having access to all sorts of cool activities.


Best job in the world.


It's important to be OK living wherever the job takes you. The OP points out that the "near constant rejections" require you to be a "glutton for punishment". It's worse if you are desperate for professional success so that you can move home. If the majority of negative reviews seem unreasonable, it is hard to feel positively about the discipline.

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